For the past 6 years, on a weekend in August, Santa Rosa has been the convening point of people all over to talk about, to learn about and to try, fermented foods.

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This past weekend was that time, and purveyors and lovers of all things fermented gathered to celebrate this ancient method of food preservation at the Farm to Fermentation Festival. I got a crash course in fermentation when attended a few years ago, which I wrote about here and this year was just as enjoyable.

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This year, I attended two of the many lectures offered. I learned about how to make yogurt from Janet Fletcher, local author of several books including her new book, Yogurt. I was surprised at how easy the process was- heat milk, add a bit of yogurt, and then rest at a certain temperature for a given length of time.

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In Lynda LeMole’s lecture “Fermented Medicine,” I learned more about the health benefits of fermented foods and how they interact with our bodies. She demonstrated how to make Fire Cider, and explained the dizzyingly long list of its benefits, ranging from being an anti-inflammatory to helping nausea. We all tried a sample of it, which burned my throat but I could easily see how it would kill any germs or illness. I was excited to take the recipe and make a batch myself at home.

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After leaving Lynda’s lecture, I sought out my husband, who was in the Libation Lounge. I’m not a big drinker, but he had already tried all the samples of beer and cider, and directed me to the ones he thought I’d like the best (so thoughtful, right?). I really enjoyed a strawberry saison from Woodfour and a pour Moonlight Brewing that was made with redwood instead of hops.

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Back in the vendor hall, we checked out samples of all things fermented- from cheese to pickles to bread to chocolate. I was excited that there were samples of natto, fermented soybeans that are very traditional in Japan. I had heard some horror stores about the dish, but wanted to try it. I found them quite delicious, and much different from other ferments like pickles or sauerkraut.

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The chocolate samples were of course very popular, both from companies Firefly and Cacoco. I really liked trying 4 different types of drinking chocolates, and came home with a box of Cacoco’s ‘Original’ to make some of my own at home.
Make sure to keep an eye on the Farm to Fermentation website for next year’s date, or follow them on Instagram at @farm2ferment- it’s an event not to be missed!

www.farmtofermentation.com