What’s old is new again and food trends are no exception. Due to an increase in autoimmune, gut health, and general health concerns, incorporating fermented foods into one’s diet is becoming popular. The Cultured Cook, by Michelle Schoffro Cook, focuses on the issue of fermentation and its importance for overall health. The first part of the book engages and educates the readers on why fermentation is important for good health and how eating fermented foods regularly can improve certain health concerns and issues. The bulk of the book is recipes. The recipes vary from vegan cheeses, vinegars, fermented vegetables, and even desserts. The book is well laid out and every recipe has step-by-step instructions and pictures.
For this review, three recipes were tried: almond farmer’s cheese, white kimchi, and basic sauerkraut. The first recipe tried, the almond cheese, was a failure. While the almond milk separated as the directions indicated it would, it just blended back together during the attempts to strain. Mostly, it made almond buttermilk. Comparable recipes found by this reviewer online indicated that almond cheese is typically made from almond pulp vs milk, which may have been why this one did not work. The basic sauerkraut was also an unsuccessful recipe. While the cabbage was still crunchy, it didn’t taste like sauerkraut or a fermented cabbage, but just salted cabbage. Looking at other home fermenting recipe websites, one of the steps that was not included in this recipe was salting the cabbage and letting it sit before submerging it in water, which may account for it not fully fermenting. Finally, some good news: the white kimchi was easy and successful. It was a wonderfully unique flavor for a kimchi and different than the traditional flavors. It’s not spicy and has a unique blend of pears, ginger, and fresh, crunchy vegetables. This recipe will be one that will be enjoyed and repeated. Overall, while The Cultured Cook, has some good information and education about the importance of fermenting, it’s recipes were overall unsuccessful and readers should look elsewhere for a fermenting cookbook.
Barbara Cothern lives near Portland with her husband and three cats. She is most often found with a book in her hand and several back-ups in her bag. She loves that her day job allows time for reading between projects. She has been passionate about books and a fan of the fantasy genre since her mom read The Chronicles of Narnia to her when she was five. When not reading, Barbara enjoys spending time with her husband, watching movies, going to concerts, cooking, knitting and playing video games. Her favorite part about reviewing books is introducing people to wonderful but less publicized books.
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