Humans have long savored the distinctive flavors and reaped the health benefits that result when microscopic bacteria and fungi transform our fresh foods into fermented ones. But as the American food system industrialized, most people became disconnected from and suspicious of the mysterious processes by which many of our favorite foods—including bread, cheese, vegetables, wine, beer, coffee, and chocolate—are created. The School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College is once again offering the course “The Art of Fermentation” for those interested in exploring the production of probiotic powerhouses such as fermented vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and beans.
The five-day course, held August 14-18, 2017, is for both newcomers to fermentation and those who want to refine their skills, deepen their understanding, and widen the array of products they feel confident fermenting safely at home and offering for sale.
“In 20-plus years of devoting myself to fermented foods, in certain ways I’m only scratching the surface,” Katz says. “It’s nearly infinite, the variations that people have figured out for working with these life forces that are part of our food.”
Sandor Ellix Katz is a fermentation revivalist. A self-taught experimentalist who lives in rural Tennessee, his explorations in fermentation developed out of overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition, and gardening. Both Wild Fermentation (Chelsea Green, 2003 & 2016), recently revised in a second edition, along with his The Art of Fermentation (Chelsea Green, 2012) have helped to catalyze a broad revival of the fermentation arts. Newsweek called Wild Fermentation “the fermenting Bible,” and The New York Times calls Katz “one of the unlikely rock stars of the American food scene.”
The class is being offered at Sterling College as part of the School of the New American Farmstead, its continuing education program that provides a variety of classes and workshops for aspiring agrarians, artisan food enthusiasts, and environmental stewards. These hands-on short courses in small-scale food production and sustainable farming offer one-on-one mentorship, inspiration, skills, and new perspectives that will feed the body, the mind, and the spirit.
This is the second year of the visionary School of the New American Farmstead, the creation of President Matthew Derr. Under President Derr’s leadership, the College has launched the Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems; made substantial progress on renewable energy; transformed its agricultural facilities; and set records for enrollment and fundraising.
The School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College is generously underwritten by two great Vermont businesses: Chelsea Green Publishing, the preeminent publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living, and Vermont Creamery, an award winning creamery offering fresh and aged goat cheeses, cultured butter, and créme fraîche that combine the European tradition of cheesemaking with Vermont’s terroir. Both Chelsea Green and Vermont Creamery are partner businesses that share a deep commitment to the environmental stewardship mission of Sterling College.
Online registration is now open, but spaces are limited. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Academic credit is available for all courses. For more information this course and to register, visit www.sterlingcollege.edu/fermentation.