Tag Archives: gardening

Thoughts on Fermentation

I’m not drinking much right now. I’m giving my brain a rest. What I have been doing a lot of (besides co-running a start up, becoming a certified in sake, shochu, and hopefully wine education, learning Japanese and applying for jobs; all with varying degrees of okayness) is collecting a bumper crop of jalapeños and ahi limòn peppers from our container gardens. The tomatoes didn’t make it to year 2, but the peppers are doing just fine after a brief battle with aphids that was fought mostly by me blasting the leaves with a hose and yelling at them to leave my children alone. They perked up even more when I peppered their beds with oyster shells, though it turns out I didn’t clean the fresh shells well enough before burying them, so we had nightly visits from an adorable but very smelly skunk for a week afterword, lured by the faintest aroma of decaying shellfish. How’s your quarantine life going?

Anyhoo, you can only grow so many chili peppers until you start thinking about fermentation. The pickled jalapeño is a sandwich essential in our house, and it seems a bit silly to keep buying them from Trader Joe while I keep socking the overstock homegrowns away in my freezer. So I busted out my Noma Guide to Fermentation and am getting to work. No updates yet, we are just getting started.

I absolutely love reading about fermentation. As I once told a class full of 11-year-olds while doing a “ranting” exercise designed to show them how to express strong opinions, microbes are MAGIC and fungi are MAGIC ALIENS. Forget illuminati theories, you want to know who really runs the world, read up on mycelium. And apparently 50% of the DNA in our bodies is from the micro-organisms living in and on us. So, there’s that to … erm… digest.

Thoughts on today’s reading:

In The Noma Guide, Rene Redzepi and David Zilber suggest that “many microscopic agents … can be considered domesticated, just like household dogs and cats.” While I admit to frequently referring to sourdough starters as my “pets”, the more I learn about microbiomes, the relationship seems closer Michael Pollan’s idea of species symbiosis from The Botany of Desire; the microbes have employed our needs for them to their own advantage and shaped our (human) evolution accordingly. If I’m really being honest, when I consider the volume of microbial DNA compared to human DNA inside us, it feels a lot more like we larger organisms are scaffolding, the construction projects of single-celled organisms. The image that most comes to mind is the Doozers from Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock. Don’t mind them, they’re just keeping the infrastructure utd.