I was particularly interested when I was recently offered the chance of reviewing a new cookery book entitled, Ferment Pickle Dry, by Simon Pottley and Gaba Smolinska-Pottley. (Published by Frances Lincoln) There is something very Mother Earthly about wanting to grow what we eat and also to preserve what we eat, a deep seated desire which probably hearkens back to the very roots of mankind's beginnings.
Of course today we can go to the shops any time we want and pick up whatever we want, in season or not . . . but I think a certain sense of joy and accomplishment has been lost along the way. As a dedicated foodie, I want my food to mean more.
The authors of this very special book are passionate about growing, preserving and cooking using traditional techniques which they share and teach at their Walthamstow workshop, The Fermentarium.
Well organized and presented, this book is divided into three sections, or methods of preservation . . . Fermenting, Pickling and Drying.
Fermentation involves a metabolic change that converts sugars to acids, gases or alcohol. Many of the fermented foods you are familiar with have a distinctive sour taste that is down to the lactic acid produced by fermentation – foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Most of us enjoy the fermentation of sugar to alcohol that creates beer, cider and wine.
Pickling uses an acid solution to preserve the produce within it by killing or vastly inhibiting the growth of the bacteria that cause food to spoil. In some cases, pickles are also partially fermented, and salt also contributes to the preservation process.
Drying foods simply means removing moisture, either by use of the sun, or man made heating. Since most of the bacteria and yeast that cause food to spoil or change thrive in moisture, dried foods discourage such spoilage.
In each section, you will find a very varied selection of recipes taking inspiration from the preserving traditions of countries all around the world. For each of these recipes, the authors also provide ‘partner recipes’ which offer clever and delicious dishes making use of the various preserves.
In the Ferment section, plain live yoghurt is used in blackcurrant yoghurt ice cream, fermented gherkins & grapes are used in a sour grape pickletini and in fermented gherkin & nasturtium caponata, long-fermented pizza dough is used to make peppe rosso 10-inch pizza onto which several fermented toppings are also used, cabbage & apple sauerkraut is used in sauerkraut bubble & squeak, preserved lemons feature in preserved lemon cous-cous and amazake is used in drunken rice pudding. This section also includes guidance on sourdough starters followed by a selection of sourdough bread recipes. Everything sounds positively delicious and looks simple enough to execute.
The Pickle section includes a vast array of pickled fruits and vegetables. Pickled cherry tomatoes feature in a Greek salad, pickled plums are used to great effect on a pickled plum flammekueche, pickled oranges lift a dish called pickled oranges, spice cuttlefish & squid ink linguine. The honey-pickled garlic starts my taste buds to tingling, and the recipe for pulled pork with swede mash, grilled nectarines & honey-pickled garlic sounds positively heavenly. I also love the sound of miso pickled mushrooms and miso pickled eggs both of which are used in misozuke and soba noodle salad. There are also recipes for herrings pickled in a variety of different ways. Most recipes in this section are savoury, but there are also dried fruit pickled in brandy which are shown to be used in a decadent coffee meringue cake. *Nom* *Nom*
The Dry section includes funghi, vegetables and fruit. I have my own dehydrater, which I sadly haven't used but I am looking forward to breaking it out to make dried wild mushrooms, which are a premium price ingredient in the shops, and there are recipes for using them in both wild porcini soup and dried mushroom sauce. The variety of vegetable ‘barks’ such as sweet potato crackling (which then features in a potato crackling fritata) sound very intriguing. A honey-glazed Chinese beef jerky has also sparked my interest. Many dried herbs are used to great effect in a variety of infusions and teas. I have a fondness for herbal teas. There are also methods for drying fruit and then using them.
There are a fair amount of photographs, (Photography by Kim Lightbody) not as many as I normally like, but the ones that are there are great!
Preceding the recipes, the introductory chapters of the book provide suggestions for basic equipment needed, a guide on how to sterilise and seal correctly, and an introduction to a few key ingredients. These, together with the straightforward recipes, make this a suitable book for those new to preserving, as well as those who simply want to expand their repertoire. I, myself, am looking forward to getting stuck into some of the recipes and methods! I have a bunch of apples and pears that I want to dry, and those apple and pear crisps are sounding pretty tasty!
This is a lovely book which teaches you how to preserve foods using the ancient methods of fermenting, pickling and drying. Its packed with recipes showing you how to use your newly preserved ingredient in everyday meals. From pickled oranges transformed in a squid and linguine dish, to dry kale and pickled celery incorporated into a vibrant stir-fry, the duel recipes in this cookbook will ensure you never end up with jars of forgotten and unloved preserves.
Ferment Pickle Dry, ancient methods, modern meals
By Simon and Gaba Poffley
Photography by Kim Lightbody
Publish by Frances Lincoln, September 2016 (£20)
Hardcover, 256 pages, colour
Many thanks to Frances Lincoln for sending me a copy to review. I was not required to do a positive review. Any opinions are my own.