I spent Thanksgiving weekend doing a house-purge that would almost have made a fantastic episode of Hoarders. It was truly horrifying to see the weird stuff we have inexplicably been storing in our basement for years. For instance, there was an box fit for a large appliance just full of newspapers and toilet paper rolls. And I know exactly what purpose I had intended for those things three years ago. Sadly that isn’t the only example of unnecessary stuff that was cluttering up my space and irritating both my husband and I each time we went downstairs. For the first time ever, my feelings of being so glad to clear out the space greatly outweighed my feelings of guilt at getting rid of stuff (yes, I watched the Hoarders where they explained that people who feel emotional attachment to their items might be hoarders. You can call me “basement-only hoarder” if you want.). It was extremely liberating. We filled the entire front sidewalk with recycling and trash, delivered two carloads to our local charity shop and another carload to a used bookshop (besides the basement, the bookcases were the other main focus of our purge). I normally feel a little anxious when so many things leave the house, but this time, I just felt good and free, which I think it how one is supposed to feel when shedding the weight of unwanted material goods.
So fresh off my healing house cleanse, my gift guide for you is made up of the kind of things I would never get rid of, and the kind of things just about any fermenting type would be very happy to recieve.
Gifts for Fermenters
A crock of beauty – Crocks made by Jeremy Ogusky are things of beauty. This Boston-based potter is also a fermentation guru, which means he knows what we want and need in a crock. My personal favorite is the one-gallon crock in chalk white with a built-in chalkboard! Pretty enough to sit at the center of my table and functional enough to be in constant use.
Jars, jars and maybe some other kinds of jars – Fermenters who work on a smaller scale tend to be pretty happy to get their hands on new jars. Ball jars are great, but Fido or Le Parfait jars are preferred by many fermenters, and they’re quite lovely. A larger sized Fido will win you the heart of just about any fermenter.
Metal-free strainers – Have a kefir or kombucha maker in your life? Fine mesh strainers are cheap and they make the fermenter’s job much easier! Just make sure and get one that either has no metal, or is made of restaurant-grade stainless steel.
A sexy, sexy cheese guide – Looking to impress your guests with a top-notch cheeseboard? Or perhaps you just want a little bedside cheese reading? In either case, Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage, a self-named cheese courtesan, has fittingly written a guide that can be enjoyed just as easily in the bedroom as it can in the kitchen. DiBruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings is as functional as it is beautiful and would make a worthy addition to any cheeselover’s library.
Some gorgeous, hand-crafted pickle weights – I have been obsessively using these jar weights since I bought them a couple months back. They are handmade by a fellow fermenter, beautiful, effective and perfect for your Fidos or standard-mouthed Ball jars.
Gear for booze brewers - For my vegetable ferments, I like to keep it simple, but for some things, like alcohol fermentation (think beer, cider, wine) a little bit of equipment is essential to keep air out. Airlocks and stoppers are cheap and don’t take up a lot of space, so I don’t mind them too much. I get mine locally from Philly Homebrew Outlet, but if you don’t have an awesome local fermentation store, they are available on-line at shops like Midwest Supplies.
DIY Gifts from Fermenters
Cookbook Gifts for Fermenty Types
Looking to gift a cookbook or two? Here are some lists that look pretty awesome for all sorts of diets:
Cookbooks For Vegans - I especially love my copy of Great Gluten-Free, Vegan Eats From Around the World, by Allyson Kramer
And Most importantly, Fermentation Cookbooks. My current favorites, in order:
The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz
Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz
True Brews, by Emma Christensen
Real Food Fermentation, by Alex Lewin
What fermentation-flavored gifts will you be giving this year?