Fermentation is an ancient method of preserving the harvest that has undergone a revival as a tasty way to receive the health benefits of probiotic cultures and enzymes. But the Shockeys aren’t just looking to replicate great-grandma’s sauerkraut recipe; they are excitingly inventive alchemists who concocted novel ways to ferment sixty-four different vegetables and herbs for their first cookbook and now blast out 110 more recipes for spicy condiments and sauces in their latest publication, Fiery Ferments.
Chiliheads will find their favorite peppers well represented in this cookbook, but other heat sources are explored too, including galangal, horseradish, cubeb, long pepper, and the delightfully named grains of paradise. The authors researched condiments from cultures as diverse as Hawaii and Bulgaria, and recount their many experiments, including the flops, in irreverent, casual prose.
These master fermentistas are creative recipe-developers, but they also patiently explain the basics of lacto-fermentation for newbies, from the pros and cons of various containers and lids, to the techniques for making pepper pastes and mashes, brines, kimchis, and mustards. Many photographs guide the way, including the immensely reassuring ones in the Fermentation Doctor addendum that diagnoses unsettling sights, like “when brine looks like snot,” “lava flow,” or the dreaded “bulging lids” (all three are actually not big problems).
Adventurous and health-conscious cooks will love to play with these recipes, and they can even adjust the heat index, which is indicated by a thermometer in the top corner of each recipe page. Whether it’s Rhubarb Achar, a pickled relish inspired by Nepalese flavors, or Fermented Nopal Salad, there’s a new favorite condiment calling out for kitchen experimentation that is “fun, a bit crazy, and full of flavor.”
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