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The Art of Fermentation: An in-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  3,685 ratings  ·  283 reviews
Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, and a New York Times bestseller, The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Sandor Katz presents the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience ma ...more
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Chelsea Green Publishing (first published May 15th 2012)
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Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book completely thrills me in so many ways!

It is essentially an encyclopedia of what is known about fermentation, with stories based in the personal experimentation of the author and people he's encountered in his travels, as well as a ton of other research. But it is so much more than that.

Equally as precious to me as the vast amount of geeky information about fermentation processes and lore is the perspective. My heart leaps for joy that a queer, community-minded, politically radical, ra
Clarissa Simmens
A lovely friend of mine presented me with this book. Realistically, I believed there wasn't much I'd learn about fermentation. Years ago, I was strictly macrobiotic and those familiar with the concept will know that a percentage of each meal consists of fermented food. My roommate has been fermenting sauerkraut for 22 years and I like to ferment fresh pickles using home-grown dill and cucumbers. We are lucky to have a nearby Asian market in our small town, so miso is plentiful and has never been ...more
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking, history
The Art of Fermentation is, as the title says, an in-depth exploration of the processes and concepts of fermentation. Sandor Katz covers various types of fermentation that cover a wide range of fermentables (vegetables, grains, etc) and a diverse geographic region. In many ways this is the encyclopedia of fermentation. It is an excellent resource for those who want to know more about the process and how fermentated foods are used around the world and for those who would like to take their own fe ...more
I guess I haven't really read this cover to cover, but I do consult it now and then, which is probably how it was intended to be read. Awkwardly, it's not a book of recipes, so it's useless if you just want to make sauerkraut *right now*. It's perfect if you just want to wrap your head around what sauerkraut is, how it becomes sauerkraut, who makes it, what varieties there are, how it differs from kimchi, whether it will kill you if something weird grows on top of it, etc., which are all useful ...more
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Is it possible for a book to be both too detailed and not detailed enough? Maybe I would be better reading Wild Fermentation, but I felt that this book was lacking in details about how to actually execute these different fermentation items. The recipes and suggestions were buried deep within layers of excessive details about each item, most of which boiled down to "there's lots of different varieties of this, mess around and see what you like." I appreciate that approach, but giving more clear d ...more
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: cooks who are serious about fermentation
This is an astounding work, a magnum opus reference guide to All Things Fermented. It's not a cookbook, per se, although an experienced cook could use it to develop recipes. (For recipes to start my adventure in fermenting I will look to Katz's equally impressive cookbook Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. If I begin fermenting foods with some regularity I will purchase Art of Fermentation, for now the library copy will suffice.)

From edibles to drinkables
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Wow, what a huge book! Before reading this (okay, okay, skimming), I knew little to nothing about fermentation. I knew it had something to do with alcohol, cheese, and yogurt, but I also thought it was the same thing as pickling.

Did you know that you can submerge vegetables in their own juices and leave them on the counter for months and eat it and LIKE it? And it's more stable than refrigeration? I obtained this book because I kept reading in many different places that fermented food is incred
Greta Fisher
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
To do this well written and very interesting book justice, I should first spend a year (at least) in the kitchen making sauerkraut,kimchi,mead,yoghurt etc.,etc., before writing a review, but since I am already convinced that "The Art of Fermentation"will be much read and used over the years, I'll just give it 5 stars and be done with it! ...more
This feels like a mysterious spell book: there are no exact recipes or bullet-proof methodologies. All the "recipes" are paragraphs of ideas, stories, and guidelines. And I really like that.

Can't wait to make my first batch of fermented hot sauce >:)
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘Biologists use the term fermentation to describe anaerobic metabolism, the production of energy from nutrients without oxygen. ....Bacterial fermentation processes have been part of the context for all life....Bacteria break down nutrients we would not otherwise be able to digest...intestinal bacteria produce certain necessary nutrients for us , including B and K vitamins...Bacteria inhabit all our surfaces, particularly the warmer sweaty places that stay moist, as well as our eyes, upper respi ...more
Carol Bakker
I think this deserves five stars for the breadth and depth of information. But did I love listening to an encyclopedia? Not so much. I was rapt when he covered kombucha and kefir, but distracted when he explored edible molds, sorghum beer, and saki. Towards the end of the 20 hours I wanted to be done. The length of it helped me get more walking done.

I firmly believe that our modern trend of eliminating fermented foods from our diets has been detrimental. I've brewed kombucha, but after listening
I went from “knows almost nothing about fermentation” to “fermenting everything I can get my hands on” in a week. And the finished results are delicious. Couldn’t recommend this more.
Ben Christensen
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
10/10 will read again.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What Arora is to the fungi world, Katz is to the fermentation world. This is the ultimate go-to resource to figure everything fermentation out. Highly recommended.
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love this book! The subject of fermentation brings out my inner nerd, and this book feeds that impulse! When I got it, I literally sat down and started reading it cover-to-cover, as if it were a novel rather than a cookbook. This is not a book of recipes. Rather, it's a book about the methodologies and practices and principles of fermentation. I definitely appreciate the references to how fermentation is practiced around the world in obscure cultures. As a librarian and nerd, I also appreciate h ...more
Cheryl Rose
Dec 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Everything you ever wanted to learn about Fermentation and more.
This is a great book, too in-depth for my needs but I enjoyed reading sections of specific interest. NO! Not fermenting sugars into Alcohol, which is Chapter 4 by the way. I was interested in Sauerkraut. Which seems simple enough and I think I'll give it a try.
I learned about a fermented sweet tea, kombucha, and soon after got a few bottles of it from Whole Foods. I love this drink! And it's introducing pro-biotics into my body al
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
According to my rating rules there is no way a cook book should be getting more than three stars, but this is the one. Katz makes you feel you will be Closer To God by fermenting your own foods.

As others have said, complaints about lack of recipes are from readers who Do Not Get It. Katz is not the high priest of food here to tell you what God has given you, he points at it. You touch it with your own hands and eat it with your own mouth.

Since reading the book I have started a mead, fermented on
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Lots of information about fermenting of various kinds, but the useful info is buried amongst trivia. Some clearer how-to would be more useful than a discussion of the history of different ferments.
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Marvellous read, I enjoyed this far more than most fiction I've read recently. ...more
Hannah Che
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking
Fascinating, comprehensive, and boggling. A new world, I'm hooked. ...more
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My experience of this book seems to be a common one. I got it expecting it to be a guide to making fermented foods, with recipes and step by step instructions to help me get going. I flipped through it, found that it had no ingredient lists or numbered directions, and it languished on my shelf for years. I was expecting a book of fermentation recipes, and this is very much not that book. But when I did finally give it time, what I found in it is even better.

I came back to The Art of Fermentation
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, 2020
Admittedly not everything in this book is TECHNICALLY fermented, but the spirit and traditions of many of these practices are adjacent to the point of overlapping so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

There were bits I skimmed (bioremediation, anyone? human decomposition, anyone?!) BUT this book definitely tickles my fancy in areas I know and love (i.e., fermented alcoholic beverages) and piqued my interest in dabbling in some others (e.g., keffir, sauerkraut, and maybe some of those cured meats).

Katz is an outstanding
Paulo Adalberto Reimann

...and it can be read re read by bits and pieces, most of the time not in the given order. Some pages or chapters would be more interesting some not that much, ie, love the kombucha or rejuvelac part, all grain and fermented milk portion. Meat or roots doesn't make me a buff. The book is awesome.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
Very informative. Has everything you would want to know about fermenting: the biological process behind it, history, troubleshooting, and more. Makes me want to bust out my pickling crock on start on a batch of sauerkraut.
Terry Renee
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, my-favorites
God knows I have yet to read this jewel in it’s entirety but it is a desert isle book. If I was exiled from humanity it is the first thing I would pack. Pay attention and you will eat things you never dreamed of and enjoy every bite.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly detailed in clear and easy to read language. Definitely a tome to reference regularly.
Erin L
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Super in-depth look at fermentation.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I suspect this book will be referenced time and again as I get bolder with my fermentation experiments. There's so many interesting things I want to try! ...more
Carly Martin
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks, nonfiction
Katz is a Saint, the Bob Ross of pickling. A feel-good read for anyone, no matter your level of enthusiasm for microbes.
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My name is Sandor Ellix Katz, and I am a fermentation revivalist.

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“Moving toward a more harmonious way of life and greater resilience requires our active participation. This means finding ways to become more aware of and connected to the other forms of life that are around us and that constitute our food -- plants and animals, as well as bacteria and fungi -- and to the resources, such as water, fuel, materials, tools, and transportation, upon which we depend. It means taking responsibility for our shit, both literally and figuratively.” 5 likes
“Captain James Cook was famously credited with conquering scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) by bringing barrels of sauerkraut with him to sea and feeding it to his crews daily.” 1 likes
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