May 23, 2010
I had been wondering what my first post should be for this new blog, and then I attended the Freestone Fermentation Festival in Sonoma County. I felt like I found my people at this inspiring event, and what an auspicious topic to kick off the many blog ideas banging around in my head.
One thing is for sure, the lacto-fermentation movement in this area is alive and thriving! Now I’m not a newbie when it comes to eating and drinking wonderful fermented things, but I’ve only been home fermenting for about six months. I’ve been making kombucha tea and sourdough bread weekly, and recently began experimenting with lacto-fermentation using some of the recipes in Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.
I was incredibly excited to hear about the Freestone Fermentation Festival taking place this year at the Harmony School/Salmon Creek Falls Environmental Center – just a short jaunt past Freestone on the Bohemian Highway in beautiful west Sonoma County, California.
Freestone is the perfect place for this (the name itself drums up a feeling of freedom and independence from mainstream everything) and is already home to the famous Wild Flour Bakery, a wild yeast bread heaven, and the fabulous Osmosis Enzyme Baths, which offers a unique healing body therapy from the enzyme activity of fermenting cedar.
The perfectly pleasant spring day was filled with how-to demonstrations for making kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, wild fermented beverages and more. Music played, kids had fun riding on the Lunna Pillar, and food and drink was delicious.
There were plenty of vendors to talk to and try/buy their products. I was like a kid in a candy store! The day was so full I can’t possibly fit everything into a single post, but here are some highlights:
- My absolute favorite beverage of the day was the Guayaki Water Kefir being sold at the Restorative, Inc. (water technology)/Cleansing Ministries Rejuvenation booth. They demoed how to make Common Water Kefir using this recipe, but the Guayaki Yerba Mate blend they were selling was just fabulous. I will be trying to recreate this soon, using the plump water kefir grains (SKG) I bought from them.
- Another favorite beverage of the day was Smreka, a Bosnian fermented drink made with juniper berries. Samples and demo provided by Wild West Ferments. I can’t wait to make this!
- The Cultured Pickle Shop from Berkeley had an array of fun things to try, including some really interesting Nukasuke (vegetables pickled in fermented rice bran).
- Farmhouse Culture gave an entertaining and informative demo on sauerkraut making.
- The Farmhouse Culture booth also had an excellent beverage which I’d never really had before – sauerkraut juice. The jalapeno flavor was actually quite refreshing.
- Finally got to try Natto. The slimy texture was hard to get past and it wasn’t my favorite – maybe it’s an acquired taste…
- Redwood Hill Farm had a huge block of goat feta for noshing on, and they are cool folks.
- I found the kraut pushing tool I had been looking for at the Cultivate Home booth. I can’t wait to check out their Sebastopol store.
On top of the educational benefits of the day, I was pleasantly surprised at how much light-headed bubbly FUN everybody was having. My only disappointment was some of the demos were at a really basic, beginner level which much of the crowd was not. It would have been great to have more advanced sessions, perhaps focused on troubleshooting fermentation issues. I would have also liked to have seen more suppliers of starters, cultures and related fermentation tools.
That being said, I will definitely attend next year. And if you’re in the area, I highly recommend it!