By Quinn Graves, Environmental and Sustainability Studies Student
If you pay attention to food trends, you’ve probably heard of Kombucha. People usually either think that this bubbly fermented concoction is the best drink in existence or the foulest vinegary tasting $5 they will never spend again. Although Kombucha has recently entered the limelight in North America, it has been around for thousands of years , and is one of the easiest naturally effervescent drinks to brew!
In fact, the Edible Campus Gardens is offering a fermentation workshop with Bradley Deherrera on Thursday, Mar. 10. Come discover the fermentation process! The workshop will be held at 4 pm at Baby Burrito (formerly El Sillero), which is located in the Sorenson Molecular Biology Building.
Kombucha is actually sweetened tea (usually green or black), which is fermented using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast or SCOBY. The SCOBY eats up the sugar and transforms it into amino acids, creating an effervescent, probiotic-rich drink. Fermentation can occur from bacteria, yeast, mold, etc. Hold on, bacteria and mold in food? Yes! The presence of bacteria is wonderful for digestion and doesn’t always indicate food spoilage. Good bacteria, largely associated with cultured yogurt, play a vital role in maintaining a healthy digestive system .
Kombucha is just one of the countless fermented foods. Foods ranging from cheese to bread to sauerkraut are all fermented delicacies that are enjoyed around the world. Fermentation became popular in early human history because it was a method of preserving food without the need for refrigeration. It was even thought of as a “mystery and miracle” by people living in the Neolithic era.
Dabbling with fermentation can be daunting if you’re doing it by yourself, possibly with thoughts of bad bacteria and mold running amok. The Edible Campus Gardens’ workshop is an opportunity to learn how to prep for fermentation, start the process, and then understand what happens along the way. During the workshop, we will introduce fermenting sauerkraut and ginger beer. This will be a hands-on workshop and each participant will be able to take their unique ferment home to share!
Considerations and benefits of attending the workshop include: reducing the amount of money spent on buying pre-made fermented foods at the grocery store (which are more expensive than the ol’ diy way), and once you have a culture going (whether it be sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, etc.) it’s really easy to sustain.
So not only is fermentation a relatively easy operation, it comes with a myriad of benefits too! If you’ll be joining us next Thursday, be sure to bring a notebook, pencil, and lots of questions about fermentation. If you’re concerned about directions, stop by the Sustainability Office and ask, or take a glimpse at the map below.
Quinn Graves is a Geography & Environmental and Sustainability Studies double major. She is an outdoor enthusiast and is passionate about sustainable food practices.