When I was a kid, I spent much time at my paternal grandparent’s farm, located between Gibbons and Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. At any given time, one could walk in the back door, up the steps into the farmhouse kitchen, and there would always be a dish of dill pickles sitting on the table. And when the dish was almost empty, my grandmother would fish a few more out of a large mason jar to cut into quarters to refill the dish. Being part of (a seemingly) endless line of Ukrainian farmers, my grandparents relied on fermentation to preserve the best of what the land had to offer. Although probiotics are touted for their health benefits now, back then it was just a way of life. At my grandfather’s funeral my cousin told the story of how my grandfather taught her how to make pickles. Even in his 80s, “pickling” was an activity he still enjoyed and, was more than happy to pass on the knowledge.
There is a certain mystique surrounding fermented foods. While fermenting foods isn’t difficult, after reading through Philip Moscovitch‘s Adventures in Bubbles and Brine, there is a certain amount of trial and error for each person before perfecting their own methods. What I enjoyed most about Adventures in Bubbles and Brine is how extensively Moscovitch examines the art of fermentation through a Nova Scotia perspective. Nova Scotia has a rich culinary history, made even richer through the stories of the master fermenters Moscovitch talks to.
The book is organized into 10 main chapters: Sauerkraut, Fermenting the Harvest, Preserving Meat, Sudsy Stuff, Apple Cider, Wine, Bread, The Dairy Best, Science, Safety & What’s Going on in Your Gut, and Gearing Up. While this is not a cookbook, Moscovitch offers 15 recipes to teach home cooks how make things like sauerkraut and kimchi to kombucha, cider, and bread. There are also very simple recipes for making ricotta cheese or yogurt. Reading through his recipes, I find that he’s trying to make fermentation accessible to home cooks. Moscovitch has an enthusiasm for the subject matter that really shows as he explains the process and results of each recipe. A great book to start with if you’re curious about fermentation or a novice fermenter. His Suggested Bibliography at the end of the book offers yet more ways to extend your learning on the subject.
My favourite part of the book comes near the end when he speaks to Jessica Best — owner and baker of Birdies Bread Co. (the place I rely upon to keep my family in sourdough bread, sourdough pizza dough, and sourdough pain au chocolat — read all about it in my review of the bakery and café). I appreciate Best’s passion for naturally leavened bread and, just one bite of Birdies’ sourdough illustrates the best of what fermentation brings to the art of baking. Best is just one of many master fermenters featured in Adventures in Bubbles and Brine.
Not only does Moscovitch focus on the stories and methods of the masters of fermented foods here in Nova Scotia he also discusses the history of fermentation. I found Adventures in Bubble and Brine to be a fascinating exploration of the resurgence of the art of fermentation here in Nova Scotia and what place these probiotics foods play in our culture and health. Along with the recipes, this book shows how these methods used in commercial settings can be easily adapted and enjoyed at home.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Formac Lorimer Books for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.