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Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  2,939 ratings  ·  254 reviews
Takes readers on a whirlwind trip through the wide world of fermentation, with basic and delicious recipes - some familiar, others exotic - that are easy to make at home.
Paperback, 187 pages
Published March 8th 2004 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company (first published 2001)
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Shawndra
Aug 11, 2008 Shawndra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers of Omnivore's Dilemma, Animal Vegetable Miracle, permaculturists, DIY folks, health nuts
Recommended to Shawndra by: I found it at the library!
I went looking for a sauerkraut recipe and found Wild Fermentation, a radical faerie's treatise on harnessing nature's microscopic beasties in preserving food. Ever wonder how to make your own miso or tempeh, kefir or yogurt, mead or sourdough? Pickles, hominy, kombucha? Injera like you get at Ethiopian restaurants? A snap!

This freewheeling book is an inspiration from start to finish. The author is HIV-positive and considers lactofermented foods an essential part of his selfcare regimen. After...more
Alain Harvey
A self-avowed “fermentation fetishist,” Katz travels around the country giving lectures and demonstrations, spreading the gospel of sauerkraut, dill pickles, and all foods transformed and ennobled by bacteria. His two books—“Wild Fermentation” and “The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved”—have become manifestos and how-to manuals for a generation of underground food activists, and he’s at work on a third, definitive volume.

In Wild Fermentation Sandor Katz, or Sandorkraut as he is nicknamed, brings...more
Jan Rice
Began reading circa 2010, reviewed in September 2014

When I told an inlaw I had been making my own sauerkraut, she told me a story. When she was little her mother had made sauerkraut and tried to get the family to eat it, but no one except her (the mother) would touch it. And she ended up in the hospital with food poisoning.

I've been eating it since January and have lived to tell about it.

This isn't the familiar tossing veggies with vinegar and salt that you refrigerate right away. This is fermen...more
Jason
Naturally, i'm not through with this book. it is an extensive collection of fermentation processes that you experiment with one at a time. At this point, i have made sauerkraut, sourdough, kimchi, kombucha, hard cider, pickles, beet kvass, vinegar, and sprouted grains bread. There is so much here. I have hardly touched the wines, beers and meads yet.

Truth be told, Katz is a pioneer. He is humble and simple and aims to show anyone who tries this immaculately simple forgotten science. It is beaut...more
Beth
Feb 24, 2008 Beth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Beth by: Ginny
Sandor covers all the fermentation you could want to know about, from soy to kraut/veggies to beer and wine. It's an amusing read, including the history of different foods and tales from his experiences living in a community here in Tennessee.

I liked his reasoning that we as a society try much too hard to get away from bacteria and "bad buggies." He embraces a more symbiotic relationship with our environments, allowing natural yeasts to leaven our bread and give character to other foods. Every...more
E
The book has tons of great easy recipes. I have made a few things already, with plans to go into the more advanced ones. The commentary that flows around the recipes is sometimes insightful, but can be a little too "new age-y" and made me sometimes skip some of the small rants. Overall, I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to get a basic introduction into fermentation in all forms.
Elise
"Wild Fermentation" had been living in my home for a little while, since Nick started getting into brewing beer and making fruit scrap vinegar--projects I've assisted with, but never taken the lead on. I was inspired to pick up the book and read it through after reading--and getting pretty obsessed with--a recent NYT article by Michael Pollan, "Some of My Best Friends are Germs." In the article, Pollan makes a pretty convincing case for increasing the diversity of microbacteria in our guts throu...more
Andi
Here's a book that I wasn't expecting to affect me in any way except to inspire me to make yogurt--and WOW was I surprised to find so much more! Nostalgia ran strong as I read about making sauerkraut and yogurt--two of the fermented foods I grew up watching my grandma make. Along with many other foods I'm familiar with (beer, wine, cheese), Sandor Ellix Katz also shares a wealth of knowledge about fermented foods that are unfamiliar to me--such as tempeh and kefir. I have at least heard of those...more
Kelly Elmore
I realized while reading that this was a reread for me. I enjoyed it, and I got some good ideas about how to begin fermenting again. Sometimes his hippiness is a little much. For instance, I don't especially need to hear a story about how some radishes came to him in a dream. But other than that, the recipes are great and the arguments for incorporating more fermented foods compelling. I wish there were more veggie recipes; I'm not that interested in making wine and beer and completely uninteres...more
Ruth
Wow. This book was so interesting! It covers all wild fermented foods, from Sauerkraut to Miso, Yogurt to sourdough, and all manner of alcoholic drinks. I learned a lot about the fermentation process, why a little mold won't hurt you (this point may take a while for my mind to digest), and how fermenting food brings out all of the food's nutrients in an extremely absorbent form that is very beneficial to consume. Some of the recipes take only 24 hours, some take years.

The author is a gay man li...more
Racheal
This book it great! The author has such a nice style and the book is the perfect balance of informative and accessible. It has a lot of detailed, practical advice to get you started on your own fermenting adventures plus just enough history and relevant discussion of the problems with the way we eat to get you really thinking. The author is obviously passionate about making and eating fermented foods and I appreciate that! Too many "alternative" food/health books really turn me off with their an...more
Mic
This is probably the only cookbook that is interesting enough to read cover to cover and then keep a reference, rather than skim for interesting recipes and toss on the shelf (as per usual). In addition to historical and basic scientific inforation this book includes step by step instructions for fermenting jsut about everyhting, including sourkraut, kimchi, ethiopian t'ej (honey wine), home made cheese, and even fermented fish sauces. It's amazing! Check it out if you're a handy type!
Russ
Very informative. The author is certainly a character and I'll probably poison myself making cheese and sauerkraut, but such is life.
Jeffrey
--wrote this for www.greenprophet.com--

I sat down to read Sandor Katz’s “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods” to help me along with my recreational pickling and fermenting skills.

I was hoping to learn a bit about the how-tos when making cheese, meads, bread and kimchi. To my surprise and pleasure I found myself reading a cookbook plus a manifesto –– a guidebook to reclaiming our food supply and living a self-sufficient lifestyle.

An unconventional cookbook, a...more
AJ
This book is an excellent resource, and I will likely purchase a copy when I'm ready to start fermenting. The author does a great job of explaining the process of fermentation, providing a brief (and interesting) history, and then explaining the recipes. Most of them are quite simple and just require time and patience. A few require spores and the author provides resources on where those can be purchased.

My favorite part of this book is the author's critique of modern food production and how it...more
Kate
Fascinating. I came across this book sort of by accident: after making the pickled grapes in Molly Wizenberg's book, I was idly browsing the Web for more refrigerator pickle recipes and kept coming across references to Katz and his book. Silly me, I didn't really know the difference then between fermenting and vinegar pickling. Even if you're not interested in making all (or even any) of the comestibles, each chapter is readable and engaging. Given his own experience of living with a serious il...more
jesse l mabus
run, don't walk. this book is a love letter to the ecology that we live within and that exists within our bodies. probably the single best diy toolbox to fixing your diet, your health, and the life of this community we co-exist in called terra firma. his comments on death and decay in the final chapter are a wake-up call to change the way we have monetized and commodified even the process of grieving and burial. makes me want to shout out for help to build the laboratory/farm/co-operative/csa an...more
Chelsea
I checked this out from the library hoping to find a few good recipes. I found many, and so much more! Sandorkraut's radical perspective on food justice and activism are inspiring, and the stories of his community and loved ones are really enjoyable and authentic. I especially appreciated the chapter on death and how his fermentation journey has helped him make peace with it. I will definitely be buying this book!
Also of note - this book is very vegan-friendly. Many recipes use honey, but he say...more
Jonathan
Great introduction to a variety of fermented foods such as pickles, bread, and more exotic (for american readers) fare such as miso. Katz covers a lot of ground. He does deal frankly with his personal life and how that has influenced his study of fermentation and makes no bones about being a HIV individual. That's turned off some Amazon reviewers, but I didn't find it intrusive - this is not a cookbook, it's a methods book that explains the methods behind the fermentation and the authors journey...more
Cassie
Dec 23, 2008 Cassie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: DIYers, home cooks, DFH-wannabes, microorganism lovers
Shelves: best-books-ever
Unlike Nina Planck (and Sally Fallon for that matter), Sandor Katz is totally lovable. Even if you never get brave enough to make his recipes, you'll totally wish you were his neighbor (even though you aren't living in a happy hippie commune in the hills of Tennessee (Kentucky?), and you're name isn't Pixie or Daffodil.) I bought this after too many bouts of antibiotics, and it definitely upped my fermented food intake, and now, I've actually started making the recipes.
Totemfilm
Mr Katz gives us all we need to start fermenting food. He takes us on a journey through his own personal experiences of live culture cuisine with passion and humour. This book is part diary (of his struggle with HIV and quest to overcome it effects), part cultural manifesto as he give us his take on the history and politics of nutrition, and part cookbook for healing and good health. This is a book I keep returning to as I plot my own path to better health.
Alyson
I borrowed this from a friend intending to make photocopies of recipes. By the first chapter I realized this is a book to have on hand....commentary on politics, culture, health, plus factoids about random things. I have a sneaking suspicion this book will answer my sourdough pancake woes, as well as provide some dang tasty crock pickles next summer. I'm only giving this book four stars because I have yet to make recipes- stay tuned!
Adam Graffunder
A great balance of information on fermentation and charming anecdotes. This book is very encouraging and had me stuffing things in jars and seeking out new fermentation vessels right away. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in fermenting foods easily without much experience. Sandor's philosophy of fermentation provides a nice bridge between growing/foraging food and composting its remains. We needn't digest alone.
notRahimeanymore
I don't usually add cookbook I'v read to Goodreads, but this has to be an exception. Not only are the information (and recipes) in this book excellent, but the writing is a joy. It should be said that this is a hippy-dippy book - my favorite anecdotes include the author mentioning that during a hospital stay, some radish seedlings he had planted visited and comforted him in his dreams, and a friend named Ha! (exclamation point included) - but if you are tolerant of eccentricity (personally I fin...more
Sally
A guide to making your own naturally fermented products such as miso, sauerkraut and sourdough bread.
sylas
this book is both (so) delicious and informative!
Stacy
I wanted to get more into fermentation after reading "Cooked" by Michael Pollen. He did interviews with Sandor Katz and so I got this book to learn more. The book is more than just a cookbook, but a whole philosophy of life. The author is a very thoughtful and deep person and has lead a most interesting life. He tells wild stories about harvesting wild seaweed in Maine and exploring Cameroon and of course, living in the commune in Tennessee where he created many of these recipes.

The author seems...more
Dan
If there are better books out there about fermentation, I'll consider giving this book 3 stars instead of 2, but it seems to have taken the scene by storm and I'll admit I've now got a to-do list of foods I'd like to ferment: pickles, sauerkraut, sourdough, miso, tempeh, ginger beer, etc. I was already making Kombucha and yogurt, but the educational aspect of the book really helps me put it all into perspective. This is definitely an activist book. The author will be a bit out there for some, bu...more
Mark
Sandor Katz is part of a slowly expanding grass roots movement in this country away from corporate food producers and monoculture-based agriculture, stating that " food offers us many opportunities to resist the culture of mass marketing and commodification." His book "Wild Fermentation" is essentially an odd recipe book, making use of fermentation practices rather than more common methods of cooking food.

But Katz takes his fermentation practices to another level: wild fermentation. "Wild" ferm...more
Anne
This book provides a great introduction to creating a broad range of edible goods fermented using the yeasts/bacteria/molds occurring naturally in the air/produce skin/etc. Most of the recipes are pretty approachable in the sense that they often follow the formula of add food to be fermented, cover with cheese cloth, let sit for a few weeks, stir occasionally. I am super excited about the prospect of making fermented foods without all of the control that goes into home brewing, for example. Howe...more
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63537
My name is Sandor Ellix Katz, and I am a fermentation revivalist.
More about Sandor Ellix Katz...
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“Scientists were earnestly trying to elucidate the spontaneous generation of mice as late as the seventeenth century, when Jean Baptista van Helmont reported that “if one presses a dirty shirt into the opening of a vessel containing grains of wheat, the ferment from the dirty shirt does not modify the smell of the grain but gives rise to the transmutation of the wheat into mice after about twenty-one days.”11 He also had a recipe for creating scorpions by carving a hole into a brick, filling it with dried basil, and placing it in the full sun.” 0 likes
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