When we were at the Real Goods Solar Living Center in Hopland, CA last September, fermented pleasures were not (as usual) far from our minds. We had already rounded up beer-making supplies to take back to Nicaragua (no more being stuck with just Victoria and it’s twin Tona!) and had been sampling micro-brews on the drive down through Northern Cali. So when we spotted a book titled: Wild Fermentation, alarm bells started ringing.
The idea is to use wild yeast floating in the air wherever you live to do your fermentation. That way, you get the benefits of the locally adapted yeast, it grows well and you meld with your environment by drinking it. Interesting. No Champagne yeast would be used for our wines, just straight Chinandegano (or Manzano Uno, to be exact).
One of the first recipes to grab our attention was mead, arguably the world’s first alcoholic drink along with beer. It looked really easy and the author, Sandor Katz, got it rolling with a great introduction to the history and culture of fermenting followed by an easy mead recipe on p. 29 (and many more later on). We added a bit of calala (passion fruit) to the recipe.
Kim was also craving sauer kraut and we decided that we may as well make a spicy version with some of our chiles, which is basically kim-chee (plus lots of garlic, ginger, scallion). So, right off the bat we had three vats of stuff bubbling away in the cabana and some interesting smells emanating.
About a week later things were ready to taste and the sauerkraut/kim-chee was already done. The wild yeast had done it! Everything came out well and pretty close to how we’d hoped. The mead took another week and had an amazing sweet and tart taste with little bubbles, so good, it didn’t last long.