Katie Venner in addition to being well versed in matters fermented, last year with Jo Webster achieved the World Record for Sauerkraut with the help of a team of people in Wells, Somerset.
A steep flight of steps leads up from the road to the cabin on the edge of a disused quarry. Large boxes of cabbages, cauliflowers etc freshly delivered that morning stood outside in the cool. A warm welcome from Katie and the brightly lit workshop with the table heaving with fermented drinks and vegetables made me forget the long journey, and prepared me for an exciting day ahead.
With everyone settled, drinks were offered, and we started on our 'breakfasts' prepared to showcase the way fermented foods can be incorporated into the rhythm and flow of our days. The first one was cooked apples topped with a baked granola and coconut milk kefir, the second was pinhead oats soaked overnight in milk kefir topped with fresh raspberries.
The morning passed with much tasting, explanations, and discussions about making and looking after scobys. Katie covered Kombucha, Water and Milk and coconut Kefir, fruit shrubs and drinking vinegars.
We almost groaned at the thought of actually eating lunch...but after a break to clear the table and bring in lunch, we reconvened and enjoyed a delicious meal...with of course a wide range fermented foods and drinks already on the table.
After lunch we all got hands on and created in pairs a 'wild' ferment, and covered all sort of areas which would help us create our own in the future. The techniques, of mixing in salt and stuffing the jars, and making a covering to ensure all the veggies were totally submerged, were covered.
To end the session, Katie had some of us chopping while she assembled a large bowl of Kimchi. We all came home with a small pot to continue its fermentation at home. With tips of where to get the Korean red chilli powder and finding out that you can make your own Kimchi without fish sauce or paste, I feel that I could easily make this at home.
To send us on our way resident baker Fleur Hoyle, who had prepared lunch, served up a delicious dark gingerbread cake, topped with lemon drizzle, with drinks all round. Along with Katie Venner and her partner Gordon Woodcock, Fleur is part of the team and takes the baking classes.
In addition to the two ferments, we came home with scobys to start our own Kombucha, milk and water keffirs, and printed guidelines. One of the tips was to mark the jars with details! Another was to observation, taste, take notes etc....
The kefir that I have been using is going to have a little rest, covered in milk, somewhere at the back of the fridge, and I have set up Tracebridge's with a new covering of goat's milk. With the kefir just strained off, I am going to try to make some kefir cheese. Katie had made some for us to taste, and there was very little left after lunch!
Katie did warn about leakage from fermenting jars, which is why I put the jars on a dish in the utility. I've decided to cover them with a little cloth, which I had embroidered. This morning juices had seeped from both jars.
My Kenilworth friend Kay sent me the 'kit and instructions'.
I used to make and share baked red cabbage with Kay...another thread has now inspired me to try a red cabbage ferment.
Although I do drive, by and large, Mr S likes to take the wheel when we travel anywhere together, which is something I am perfectly happy with. Round and about locally I like to walk or cycle, so this was a drive the length and difficulty being one I haven't undertaken for years. The journey back was almost terrifying, as there was torrential rain and it was dark, and along the roads huge lorries would come right up the back within a few feet. This behaviour is so dangerous, as I really could not go any faster, with visibility poor and breaking distance compromised by all the lying water . On the motorway going down, a traffic safety vehicle came alongside me and very shortly a large lorry that was acting in a very dangerous backed off to a much safer breaking distance, for which I was very grateful. At least I got home knowing that I could manage a fairly taxing drive.
Altogether a great course....would have been better in the summer with longer days!