Not Giving the Gift of Ferments

Christmas tree

Presents, ‘neath the tree

A couple weeks ago, I posted about giving the gift of ferments.  I was pretty excited to share that gift guide with you, and I do love all of the items on the list.  However, while there are some ferments (mostly the not-as-healthy ones) that are fit for just about anyone on your list, I am definitely not giving ferments to everyone in my family.  While I am lucky to have a ferment-loving husband (and dog), not everyone in my extended family shares our love for all things fermented. As Mr. Katz has said, these are powerful foods.  Not everyone likes every ferment, and probably not everyone should eat every ferment. Sure, a couple people will be getting jars of my favorite lemon-ginger sauerkraut, a few dairy lovers will enjoy some cultured, compound butters (maple sea salt is a favorite), homemade feta and addictive creme fraiche.  The spice lovers in my life will indeed be getting some six-month homemade sriracha hot sauce or kimchi.

As I mentioned, though, some people in my family will be getting nothing even remotely fermented.  While I would love to share the gift of the food items that have made me happier, healthier and more engaged with my local food sources, my momma taught me a long time ago to be very careful to give gifts that the receiver would like rather than gifts I would like myself or, worse yet,  gifts that I would like the recipient to have. This philosophy has paid off (I believe I have a pretty good reputation as a gift-giver), but it isn’t always easy to follow.

So this year, I decided to try my very best to find happy middle ground.  My goal was to buy mostly stuff that I would normally be fine spending my money on.  My parents are also on the list of people who aren’t crazy about ferments.  They do, however, enjoy Bailey’s Irish Cream in their coffee sometimes around the holiday.  So this year, I compromised: I made a homemade organic version of Bailey’s by adapting this Irish Cream recipe. I halved the almond extract and only used 2/3 cup of whiskey and cream from a local, organic creamery.  I think it is spot on, and it doesn’t contain miscellaneous emulsifiers or vegetable oil; just pure organic ingredients (okay, the whiskey is not organic)!  I’m very excited to share it with my parents and uncles.

All organic (minus the whiskey) Bailey's wannabe.  I'll be stenciling a chalkboard paint label on these bottles before the big day

All organic (minus the whiskey) Bailey’s wannabe. I’ll be stenciling a chalkboard paint label on these bottles before the big day

My aunts will be getting some organic homemade body scrub.  The wonderful recipe for this is from So…Let’s Hang out.  I followed it to a tee and it smells delightful! No harmful additives, parabens or other chemicals that are par for the course in commercially available (and way pricier) scrubs.  My aunts love bath and body products and I think they’ll really dig these.

Yes, in addition to my homemade goods many people on my list (especially my parents who are wonderful humans who deserve everything I could ever give them) I have purchased gifts.  Some I feel wonderful about buying because the come from sources I admire and want to support.  Others, I feel good about because I know they will be appreciated and loved by people I appreciate and love. And I don’t feel at all guilty about that.

Happy Holidays to you all, whether you give homemade, organic, hippy gifts, the very store-bought  kind or whether you eschew gifts or don’t celebrate Christmas at all!


  1. Anne Marie says

    I am in the same boat with gifts – I know a few people are really going to enjoy receiving fermented hot sauce, homebrewed beer and even some funky veggies, but not everyone. My father in particular is adverse toward ferments in general because he associates all fermentation with alcohol. It was just a few weeks ago I informed him that he eats fermented food all the time (like cheese, bread, chocolate).

    So my question is, how do you explain to someone who is 100% not ok with consuming alcohol which ferments are “safe.” For example, I would never suggest my father drink kombucha, but I do want him to try my sauerkrat. Clearly I love to ferment, but I don’t quite get all the science-y stuff :)

    • Amanda says

      It’s a very good question, Anne Marie. I don’t have an answer for you, because my personal answer is just that it if I can consume a reasonable portion of it and not get drunk, I’m okay with it! (I do drink alcohol, just not as my lunch). I may or may not have eaten a quart of sauerkraut in one day at some point, and I never felt so much as a tinge of buzz. Amazing, yes. Buzzed, no. There are plenty of items on the grocery store shelf that have alcohol in them. As long as it falls below 0.5% (in the US), it doesn’t need to be labeled as alcoholic. So I guess my unhelpful response is that it’s up to you. But bread does have trace amounts of alcohol, and so does sauerkraut. Kombucha may have more, but if brewed for a short time, it is quite low in alcohol.

      You can get equipment to measure the alcohol content of different foods and beverages, but I have never purchased any, so I can’t personally recommend a route there.

      I hope you find your happy balance! And I do hope you share your ‘kraut with your father, but of course, that depends on your standards, and his!

      Merry Christmas! Your gifts sound wonderful!

  2. Maegan says

    I highly recommend the homemade Irish Cream. I have made it for gifts in the past and it was such a big hit that it’s back on the list this Christmas.

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