Ferment, Pickle, Dry – Ancient Methods, Modern Meals is a cookbook that instructs and inspires you to use ancient preservation methods to create some beautiful food. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to master these traditional cooking techniques, this is the perfect book for you.
My lovely friends over at Quarto Books know me too well, sending me a copy of Ferment, Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska-Poffley. With my love of natural whole foods and making the most out of all produce, a cookbook focused on traditional preservation methods couldn’t be more fitting. I was so excited to unwrap this!
Divided up into three main sections – unsurprisingly, ferment, pickle and dry (i.e. dehydrate) – this cookbook is best thought of as a kitchen manual, I think. The kind of book that teaches you lots of essential things that are useful on their own, but also act as the base for many more personal kitchen experiments. Indeed, as the authors themselves state in the introduction, this book “is a set of doorways to new experiences“.
Each section of the book follows a similar pattern; a basic recipe for a particular preservation technique followed by a fancy, funky way of incorporating your newly preserved food into a meal. For example, learn how to make pickled cherry tomatoes. Then, incorporate them into a vibrant Greek salad with a tangy, pickled twist! Or master the art of your own homemade sauerkraut, then use it up in an amazing version of bubble and squeak.
There are also some really cool and creative ideas in there that make the absolute most out of your liquid ferments like whey (often discarded), kombucha and kefir. I made a lovely big ball of labneh (a yoghurt cheese), and then used the leftover whey to make a bowl of fermented muesli for breakfast. There’s also some recipes for fermented honey mustard and fermented ketchup that I’m super keen to try.
Running The Fermentarium in Walthamstow, London, Simon and Gaba have a long and loving relationship with ancient cooking techniques. Ferment, Pickle, Dry brings together their many strands of knowledge.
The methods of fermenting, pickling and drying are all very different ways of cooking, and I think that you always tend to find one comes more naturally than the others. (I love my ferments!) But whichever way you lean – or even if you’ve not tried any – the really lovely thing about this cookbook is that it starts with the basics for each of them.
Right at the start of the book there’s a great little introductory section explaining the basic ingredients and kitchen equipment you need to get going. There’s also an overview of how to do some basic prep including sterilising equipment and properly sealing jars, so you can preserve the fruits of your labour for as long as possible.
Another wonderful benefit of learning these traditional methods of cooking – besides gaining lots of new tastes and flavours – is that fermenting, pickling and dehydrating are all really great, economical ways to use up bits and pieces of food that might otherwise be discarded. If you’ve got a glut of a particular fruit or vegetable, turning it into a lovely pickle or dehydrated snack means it has such a longer shelf life.
Ferment, Pickle, Dry is particularly inspirational in this department. While the book covers all the essentials like basic recipes for kefir, kombucha, pickled veggies and dried fruit, there are also so many really unique suggestions for turning these items into meals.
There are also some great preserved food ideas I’d not thought of before. Including a really simple but tasty recipe for courgette kimchi…which I’m so pleased I’m able to share with you! Recipe is below. I hope this leaves you inspired to get your hands on a copy of Ferment, Pickle, Dry and get experimenting in the kitchen!
Prep 20 min
Ready 3–4 days
Makes approx 500ml/18fl oz jar
- 8–9 baby courgettes (zucchini)
- 60g/2¼oz/¼ cup coarse sea salt (pure, without iodine or anti-caking agent)
- 1½ bunches spring onions (scallions) or 1 leek, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
- 1cm/½in piece of ginger, skin scraped off and grated (1 tsp)
- 7 tbsp gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes) or dried chilli flakes
- 1–2 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- Cut the courgettes lengthways 3–4 times, but don’t cut them all the way through. Rub the salt into the cuts.
- Place the courgettes in a bowl and pour in enough water to cover.
- Leave to soak for about 1 hour, then rinse them well.
- Place all the ingredients for the paste in a bowl and mix with a fork.
- Work the paste into the cuts in the courgettes, then pack the courgettes upright into a large sterilised jar (sterilising instructions in the book) and seal with the lid.
- Leave to stand at room temperature overnight, then transfer to the fridge and leave to chill for 2–3 days before eating.
- This can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Ferment, Pickle, Dry – Ancient Methods, Modern Meals is published by Frances Lincoln. Photography by © Kim Lightbody.
You can order of copy of Ferment, Pickle, Dry – Ancient Methods, Modern Meals by clicking here (this is my Amazon affiliate link which means I earn a small commission on the sale, at no extra cost to you). The book is also available to buy in all good bookstores, and in other online stores including Waterstones and the Book Depository.
Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska-Poffley of The Fermentarium are passionate about growing,
preserving and cooking using traditional techniques. Simon teaches sourdough bread baking and is
also the founder of the Left Bank Brewery. Gaba’s interest in foraging and preserving seasonal
produce is rooted in her native Poland. The Fermentarium is the creation of like-minded people who
want to share their enthusiasm for fermented and preserved foods. They run regular workshops that
are hugely popular.