While bacteria and fermentation may not sound appetizing, the process is responsible for mouthwatering favorites such as wine, cheese, yogurt and kombucha. Most bacteria are “good bacteria,” helping to break down foods in our gut or gently reinforcing our immune systems.
With this in mind, 20 participants congregated in February at the Mary L. Stephens — Davis Branch Library, including me, a foodie wannabe. Our mission: To create an acidic, anaerobic environment for bacterial cultures to spread throughout a food system to be consumed — or, in simpler terms, to make some fermented vegetable slaw.
Building Community Ferment — now a virtual event — is a hands-on workshop hosted by Stephanie Maroney, a UC Davis cultural and food studies scholar.
“Food is a celebration of culture. In fact, these foods are bacterial cultures. Food unites us as human beings and builds community,” Maroney told our gathering.
During her 15-minute background on herself and the process, Maroney shared a jar of fermented slaw she’d made a year ago, and another from three months ago, to show us the range and pungency of flavors.
With our own 32-ounce Mason jars, carrots and cabbage — handpicked from the UC Davis Student Farm — plus ginger, garlic and salt, we got to work. Packing the veggies, spices and salt is the key to coaxing liquid from the vegetables — that and waiting for 7-10 days to let the kraut properly ripen. Bon appetit!
All events are via a Zoom conversation managed by the Mary L. Stephens — Davis Branch of the Yolo County Library, and will be listed on the library’s Facebook page.