Growing up, we were taught to be careful about leaving food out too long; every family has a cautionary tale involving a hapless uncle and sun-warmed potato salad. But at IYM’s Food Fermentation workshop Wednesday night, our friends from Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard showed us how to safely let some foods sit—and sit—for delicious, nutritious results.
Unlike most foods, which simply spoil or mold when they’re not properly stored, many vegetables and fruits—and even some dairy products—go through fermentation under certain conditions. The result is often (but not always!) the sour, tangy taste we’re familiar with in foods like sauerkraut and yogurt.
MHC's Kayte and Stephanie shared with us how to prepare different foods for fermentation, and how to protect against spoilage (short answer: your chances of contamination are almost zero). But the highlights of the evening were sampling the many different fermented treats on hand like kefir soda and kimchee, and even taking home “starters” for sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha.
So what does food fermentation have to do with being money smart? For starters, it’s cheap. The cost of fermentation supplies and the foods you ferment are low, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. The live cultures found in fermented food also contribute to good health, which is always a money saver. And fermented food keeps very well, making it a good addition to your weekly or monthly menu planning.
If you’d like to give fermenting food a try, check out some of the many books the Library has on food fermentation.
You can find more free opportunities to get money smart at the Library on the It's Your Money events calendar.