If this isn’t your first time here, you’ve likely heard me extoll the virtues of a certain book. Written by a certain man. I’ve done so because I think this book will change your life and I think it might just change the world. It won the James Beard Award for Reference and Scholarship in 2013. In my house, where there are two copies, one is ferried about from my kitchen to my bedside almost daily. It has the patina of a well-loved cookbook: pages speckled with the polka dots of bubbly experiments, corners folded, too many bookmarks stretching the spine, handwritten exclamation points liberally scattered throughout like fat grains of colorful rock salt. There’s no disrespect intended towards this beautiful tome, but I show my love and affection to this book by using it.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, or if you experienced some kind of strange, title-only illiteracy upon opening this post, it’s The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, and it’s my kitchen religion.
Although I fermented, a lot, well before this book came out, I have learned so much and progressed so much in my fermentation practice since its release in mid-2012 that it almost feel like I started fresh upon my first read. It is rare for me to prepare a new fermentation class without referencing it for something. For so many of those sticky fermentation questions that arise, it provides the answers I had trouble finding anywhere else. For moments when I’m feeling busy and overwhelmed by the burden of caring for all of my culture creatures, it provides inspiration that I had trouble finding anywhere else. It is a gift bestowed on the world by Sandor Ellix Katz and Chelsea Green Publishing. Better yet, it’s a gift that they’re letting me pass on to you. Yup, you could win a free copy of what I will happily describe as my very favorite book on food.
You want your up-to-date fermentation science*? Katz’s got you covered. Want your understanding of the various processes of fermentation? You’re all set. Want your mold/bacteria/fungus fears assuaged with solid evidence and history? If this man can’t do it, nobody can. In short, this book is in-depth, approachable, beautiful, science-based, experience-driven and fun. It really doesn’t seem possible for all of these things to come together, but they have. But why do you care about my opinion! Enter the contest and you can have your own copy to lovingly abuse, for the bargain price of free!
*Fermented foods and their by-products have become a hot topic for research, so expect the data to evolve in the coming years!