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Foundations of Flavor: The Noma Guide to Fermentation

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  953 ratings  ·  78 reviews
At Noma—four times named the world’s best restaurant—every dish includes some form of fermentation, whether it’s a bright hit of vinegar, a deeply savory miso, an electrifying drop of garum, or the sweet intensity of black garlic. Fermentation is one of the foundations behind Noma’s extraordinary flavor profiles.

Now René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Noma, and David Zilbe
Hardcover, 440 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by Artisan (first published 2018)
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Micah Absolutely and is an essential text for home chefs and masters alike interested in starting up a fermentation operation either on a black card or coll…moreAbsolutely and is an essential text for home chefs and masters alike interested in starting up a fermentation operation either on a black card or college student budget. As a frame of reference, I'm the farthest thing from a hard science person and I can get all manners of confused when cooking by a book. This book is so enjoyable I read it like a novel. They neither dwell on the complex chemistry nor do they shy away from giving a standard, reader-friendly definition of what will be going on inside your ferments. It's also got a load of absolutely marvelous recipe recommendations with how to use and process various byproducts from any given ferment. They also give big color photos of what each stage of the fermentations will look like depending on how you store them. I'd originally bought it as a reference guide to kombucha fermentation, but personally I'll be experimenting a lot more than just fizzy teas. Definitely worth owning in my opinion. (less)

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Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
As a home cook who has done a fair amount of lacto-fermentation, alcoholic fermentation, some acetic acid fermentation, bread-baking, and with miso and meju fermenting as I write, I found the book both illuminating and stingy, like the kind of smart person you sometimes meet at parties who will say an intriguing thing, and you are just sure they know something really interesting and they're holding back because "This is a party, and I'm not going to digress. It's in bad taste." I know that what ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I was hoping for something that was more useful for the home fermenter, but was well written and fell into a life style porn genre for me - beautiful foodie experience that is far and away from my office job, kid wrangling and elder care. Not what I was looking for, but well written.
Alicia Bayer
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was another one of those books that took a subject that I'm passionate about and wanted to learn more about, and convinced me that I probably shouldn't even try. I know that's not the goal, but it really makes it seem absolutely expensive, fiddly and complicated. I highly recommend Sandor Katz's fermentation books if you want to feel inspired and actually do the things you're reading out. This will be a good fit for people who just want to be impressed with the process or for really hard co ...more
Mike Moore
Really beautiful and well-written, but c'mon. I'm gonna make a fermentation chamber in my basement to make miso? Gonna age vinegar for like 4 years in a wine barrel? So, I don't really know who this book is for. Other cooks that also have an entire fermentation department at their restaurant?

Interesting to learn about everything, but this isn't something the average person can act on.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it
this book was fascinating but absolutely impractical even for my extremely extra fermentation loving ass self

also I like my kombucha recipe better than theirs. idk!!! I do feel like I learned so much, the chemistry was the exact right level of depth for a non scientist culinary nerd.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
I made the blueberries, and they were OK. If I ran a restaurant, I would be trying everything in the book. Lovely, clear presentation and easier to work from than Sandor Katz, but a bit much for me as a home cook.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
While this was an interesting read (and I'm in awe of NOMA's food), I doubt I'll be venturing into making koji, miso, or garum at home. Most of this book was a bit above my current skill/interest and level of commitment, which sits at "many bottles of kefir, two successful batches of sauerkraut, and a spicy carrot/lime slaw."

The lacto-ferments chapter did remind me that I've been meaning to make kimchi (and conveniently I received a napa cabbage in my CSA box on Saturday). I now have two jars fe
Susan Peterson
If you're interested in how fermentation is done by the experts, this is your book. If you are looking for recipes to try yourself, it's less useful. I've tried fermented pickles, wine and cider, vinegar, hot pepper sauce and several other things, so I'm a pretty adventurous. But I didn't find a single recipe that I thought might be interesting. This is the kind of interesting food you go out and pay Noma to cook for you.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book provides introductions to many ferments, but the instructions are short and limited with most ferments not providing a "shelf-life" which just feels dangerous to omit. If you are already an avid fermenter this book will definitely give you a few new ideas. But please research these ferments in other sources before getting started to learn how and why they work along with instructions for processing that do not rely on single use plastics.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Some cool ideas in here, but this is definitely a book aimed at the restaurant class and not home cooks. Which is understandable, but left me feeling that a lot of the ideas were impractical.
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a must have book for anyone who ferments or would like to start fermenting. It covers all the right topics including the science, recipes and equipment. After being read it becomes a reference book and I have already filled it with colored sticky tabs.
Shannon Kauderer
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's a bible of fermentation. I've been working my way through every part of this during COVID season and absolutely loving what it does to my food and for my cooking. I haven't found another book like it, and it's a staple in my house.
Little Bby
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love! Love! Love! This book is everything I didn’t know I needed! Thank you René and David for this masterpiece!!
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking, favorites
My partner and I have already made a number of recipes from here, and it has really revolutionized our cooking. We are planning to try out the kombucha and the miso/peasos soon. Just have to build that fermentation chamber!
Емил Антонов
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Bible of fermentation, a must-read for anyone who seeks any development in their cooking skills and understanding food better.
Daniel Burton
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I did not read every word of every recipe, but the overall concepts and explanations were excellent
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing guide and one of those magical cookbooks that really expands your food world. It takes simple ingredients and gives very thorough step by step instructions for what to do. The pictures are beautiful, but it isn't all style over substance. It's just a great book that I will go back to and a great guide to some basics.
Taylor Rickett
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Big fan of the ideas and flavors presented within. Truly inspiring to see a kitchen family so dedicated to flavor and the pursuit of new ones that they’ve created space, methods and time for this exploration outside the retail aspirations of the storefront. A triptych of one group’s discovery of and reconnection to a powerful cooking tradition.
Jonah Krueger
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The holy grail of fermentation books. Approachable guides for the ferments tested and used at Noma. Less broad in scope than "The Art of Fermentation" by Sandor Katz, but detailed where it counts and extraordinarily beautiful in presentation.
Tony Cheang
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The first "cookbook" I've read cover to cover. If you enjoy food and cooking, the book's just down-right fun to read, even the chapters on ferments you might never decide to make.

The book strikes a balance of depth and breadth. On a high level, the chapters are (generally) arranged from easier (lacto-ferments, kombucha, vinegar) to harder to make (koji, miso and miso-like products, shoyu, etc.). Koji is that gateway. It'll be a while before I decide to build a temperature and humidity controlled
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book has very clear instructions and in depth descriptions. You can learn a lot about the origins of fermented items like miso, soy sauce, and fish sauce. They also provide interesting ideas for incorporating more ferments into your cooking. That said, a fair bit of this fermentation is out of reach for home cooks. I look forward to trying some processes from the beginning of the book. I've certainly learned something - now to put it into practice...
Robin Ferguson
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Amazing what one can ferment. I probably won't be doing any of this but I did get quite the education on the fermenting process.
This is fascinating. And so far above my skill set as to be unattainable.
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“The Noma Guide to Fermentation” by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber exceptionally educates readers (with no prior knowledge required) on the scientific aspects and applications of fermentation. This book focuses specifically on the seven different kinds of fermentation used at Redzepi and Zilber’s restaurant: Noma. These include: kombucha, vinegar, koji, miso, shoyu, garum, lactic acid fermentation and black fruits and vegetables (which behave similarly). Each chapter addresses the individual hist ...more
Robert Hudder
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a simple book with just a few recipes done well. It acknowledges Shurtleff, Aoyagi, McGee and Katz. It takes some of the mystique of fermenting and takes it down to the basics. It works at making it fun to play in this field.

Several of the techniques are repeated and the steps are shown with pictures. It is very reassuring. The text props this reassurance up and talks about the stuff to worry about and what not to worry about. There are times when their experiments didn't go well and the
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. You can do half the recipes without any special equipment (lacto-ferments, kombuchas, vinegars if you skip the airstone), another quarter with either a 20$ aquarium heater or some experimentation with a small heat source (koji then miso), and the last quarter (garums and blackenings) with an old slow cooker and willingness to make your house smell terrible for three months.

This gets compared with 'The Art of Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz a lot and I can understand
Kai Metcalfe
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book! While I agree that I probably won't make most of the things in here, I thought the theory, chemistry and process were helpful and inspiring. I started making kombucha after reading that section and it reinvigorated my interest in lacto fermentation and dehydration. I loved the uses for each recipe being listed after the recipe, gave me ideas on how flavors work together and what these foods I've never tried might taste like.

You have to remember that this book is reci
Tim Artz
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a pleasure to read with a friendly, familiar style. At first I thought, yes, this is all the stuff I am used to doing in my kitchen. Later on, the book is packed with nuggets that caused my brain to come up with all sorts of new directions and ideas. The book suits those who want a step-by-step approach to the cool projects with yeast, bacteria, and fungi, but it also presents in a way that I found appealing: to explore beyond what they do at Noma, and chart a course that is uniquely mine. ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's deserving of the name guide. Every type of fermentation has a clear description of its conditions, then first a very basic recipe focussed on the process, after which ferments with alternative ingredients follow which may appeal more to the foodies amongst us. Every ferment comes with recommendations where to apply them, but this is not where the focus lies.

The book is targetted at the home cook, in how it supplies simple DIY solutions to make the techniques possible, and how it coddles th
Christina Chen
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a mix of detailed theory and recipes, good for readers who are interested in food science and like to experiment in the kitchen. There are also plenty of pictures as they show you step-by-step on how the fermentation process will look like over time.

The kombucha chapter is my favourite as it is probably the easiest to re-create in the kitchen. The other chapters on koji, miso and shoyus will require some make shift equipment.

The book has recipes for sauces and dips that Noma uses wit
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“There’s a thin line between rot and fermentation, and that line might best be understood as an actual line, like the kind you’d find outside a nightclub. Rot is a club where everyone gets in: bacteria and fungi, safe or unsafe, flavor enhancing or destructive. When you ferment something, you’re taking on the role of a bouncer, keeping out unwanted microbes and letting in the ones that are going to make the party pop.” 0 likes
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