Fermentation season

Fermentation season

I got more than a few comments about this week’s “Preserving Culture” Food feature about making such things as sauerkraut, yogurt and chèvre. Most of the comments centered on how we’re not aware that this food preservation method is routinely used for the foods we pick up at the deli, bakery and dairy.

One acquaintance took umbrage over my sarcasm about the Germans failing to take credit for kraut sooner than the Danes used it to keep their sailors free of scurvy.

“How do you know these things?” she challenged.

I didn’t. But I am attracted to the meanderings of food historians. I believe what they have to say about as much as I believe other historians. (“History is an agreed upon set of facts.”)

Another query was about how I decided to write about such “unusual” things that are “not of common interest.”

That’s when it was my turn to take umbrage.

It seems to me that an increasing number of people across the country are taking interest in food preservation because of the economy of saving the harvest.

Food trend trackers (yes, I follow them, too) say that home canning, home brewing, food dehydration and cheese-making are all on the rise.

My friend Heather Bryson, who owns the Gable House, and I have had more than one glass of wine lamenting over what pains us in late September. Heather summarizes it well after she’s peeled about a truckload and a half of apples from her front-yard trees.

“God, bring on the frost. PLEASE!”

Yes, if you have agrarian roots or parents from New England, or if you’ve grown up on a ranch or your grandparents are from the old country, you get it.

Putting up the harvest is part of your culture. You might tire of it or grow to resent the time it takes, but who hasn’t put up a jar of pickles then smiled in satisfaction when the jar glistens on the kitchen counter?

Who hasn’t choked back a spoonful of sandwich relish pretending that it’s wonderful, when in fact it’s only precious to you because it was how you dealt with a sink full of cucumbers?

I canned nothing this year. I’m using my house renovation as the excuse for all sloth. It’s working.

But if I were to make sauerkraut, here’s where I would turn to learn the best way to do it.


Lehman’s is a down-home store in Amish country, where the Germans, Mennonites and Pennsylvania Dutch shop for all they need to put up the harvest.

Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Fermentation season

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