Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

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For thousands of years humans have enjoyed the taste and nutrition of fermented foods and drinks. We rely on the transformative, almost magical power of fermentation to preserve and improve all sorts of food, making them tastier, more digestible, and more appealing. Author Sandor Katz takes readers on a whirlwind trip through the wild world of fermentation. The book is divided into chapters that focus on particular types of food and Katz provides readers with delicious recipes-?some familiar, others exotic?-that are easy to make at home, including vegetable krauts and kimchis; sourdough breads and pancakes; miso and tempeh; beers, wines, and meads; yogurt and cheeses.

The recipes provide a veritable smorgasbord of tastes, like homemade tempeh, sauerkraut, and borscht, along with a basic description of yogurt and cheese-making, complete with vegan alternatives. Whether you prefer to wash down your meal with Elderberry wine or Nepalese rice beer, there's something here to satisfy any palate.

Katz, a leading expert on the history of these foods, has written a revolutionary and informative culinary guide he calls "a cultural manifesto." He has experimented with many forms of fermentation and has developed and collected a wide range of techniques and recipes from around the world.

Customer Reviews:

  • Excellent in every way
    This book is a treasure trove of excellent fermenting ideas
    and recipes and the author comes across an authentic curious
    and creative human being with a huge heart.
    A wonderful read. Worth every cent!...more info
  • WILD fermentation not sterilized
    This book is required reading for any and all who are on the verge of crossing the paper thin bounderies of fear that our sanitized, white bread culture has shocked us all into believing is right and true. I have read a few of the other comments that people have left and I wonder if they were speaking more of their own lives and not of the life that this book will possibly help you realize. It is only after reading this book that I would have considered it safe or even possible to let flour and water sit on a countertop in a jar for days and then use the bubbling results to create a sour dough bread. This was the life and common knowledge of our grandparents and their parents. This essential knowledge helped EVERYONE before our time servive harsh winters and barren drought summers. It is a shame that refrigeration and antibiotics have sterilized not just our food, but our minds. This book and people like Sandor are either the last hope or the last of a forgotten way of life.
    Damon ...more info
  • Fantastic resource and interesting read
    The purpose of this book is not really to be a cookbook. There are recipes given, but they're only half (or less) of the thrust of the work. Katz tries to impart to the reader a visceral feel for how fermentation works and his philosophy of food and nature; to do this, he illustrates the book liberally with examples from his own life. Katz encourages the reader to experiment and create new and exciting dishes.

    One doesn't have to live on a communal farm or practice an "alternative lifestyle" to enjoy and learn from this book -- an interest in food preparation and an open mind are all that are required to start enjoying delicious homemade ferments.

    Aside from the practical information (the reason I bought the book) it's enjoyable to read on its own. Katz' style is gentle and unassuming, if slightly rambling. All in all, this is a fantastic introduction to the world of fermentation....more info
  • This is the cookbook of my dreams!
    This cookbook has all the mundane and esoteric recipes I've ever wanted to own but have not been able to find all in one glorious place. Non-vinegar pickled pickles? It's there. Amazake? No problem! Kimchee? Likewise! And it's all written in a very intelligent, humorous and engaging manner with short and entertaining anecdotes that do not go on forever or stray far afield. **This book is a gem.** I recently attended a cooking class conducted by the author, who is just as amazing as his cookbook. He is full of energy and enthusiasm for spreading the gospel of these traditional and oh-so-nourishing foods. I own about 60 cookbooks, by the way, and this book is in my top five. I can't say enough good things about it. Buy this book!...more info
  • Wild Fermentation
    Katz has effectively collated a great deal of personal experience on lactic fermentation (as in sauerkraut)of a wide range of plant products. His writing style is clear and accessible. After years of omitting kraut from my yearly roster of farm preservation, I read his book and immediately started my crock going. Results were excellent. Thanks, Felix! Katz also reminds us that food preservation with fermentation greatly extends the range of foods we can count on when the power fails.

    Joann S. Grohman author Keeping A Family Cow...more info
  • Excellent Book!
    This is the book that got me started with fermentation. It covers a wide variety of ferments and has enough detail to make them all work. I especially enjoy the flexibility of the author in both the ingredients and process. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in fermentation. ...more info
  • Learned my lesson
    Well I learned my lesson in making sure in the future to read all of the negative reviews as well. I only read the one about not including enough meat recipes. The "Wild" part of the book is definitely his lifestyle. I was very excited to get the book and then very disappointed in the content inside regarding the "community" in which he lives and the goings on. There was too much of his views on his lifestyle and I could have done with none of that lets just get to the fermentation info. I wouldn't buy nor recommend this book just write down some recipes from a book at the library if I were to do it again....more info
  • Interesting
    This was an eye opener. It has helped change the way I see food and how we eat it....more info
  • The Health Superstar
    This is a wonderful book for anyone who is interested in building their health to a high level. Sandor Katz writes in a fun, insightful way, to bring the history and health giving properties to this subject, and all the ways to produce fermented foods. As a person who does ferment a few foods, I am now inspired to expand my ferments. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the health benefits of fermented foods....more info
  • What can I say...
    I love this book, my family loves the soda, my brother wants my sauerkraut and I taught some kids who to start and maintain a sourdough starter made with the yeast from the plumbs on our tree. I can't wait to make wine....more info
  • Bubbling life
    A gift that has been giving since the beginning of time, its nice to see we are starting to pay attention to what has been here all along. Our food is alive, we are what we eat. lucky us!...more info
  • There is no guide better than this one!!
    This book is trully awesome. My husband has Crohn's disease which affects his digestive system and he was told that he needed to recolonize his gut with good bacteria and one of the ways is to eat fermented vegetables. This book guided me thru the process joyously and easily. Well researched and fun to read. Recipes for all kinds of vegies, dairy ferments and breads. Makes you pine for the simpler life in an intentional community....more info
  • Improving Food with Bacteria
    This is a rare sort of book, one in which a smart, creative person has become obsessed with a process and collected all sorts of amazing information for the reader on it. Most consumers and cooks don't really consider fermentation and what it does to so many of the foods we eat. Mr Katz has considered it a great deal, and uncovered the nutrition and chemistry that most of us are missing. It is a book for people who remember eating homemade kraut, people who are into buliding immunity, people who like making their own stuff, from beer to bread, and people just interested in food.
    A magnum opus on bacteria working for you....more info
  • Wonderful book, could use a little clarity in places
    This is an outstanding book! Sandor Katz has a tremendous passion for fermented foods and it shows in his writing. "Wild" in the title refers to micro-organisms that are in the air, so this book is mostly about fermenting foods you don't need to buy yeast or other starters for. Fermenting with what's in the air appeals to me.

    Katz includes a nice variety of recipes for vegetable, bean, dairy, bread, porridges, beverages, and vinegars. Notably absent are recipes for fermenting meat products.

    I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 because, while I love the book, in places I found myself scratching my head trying to figure out what he was saying....more info
  • Worth the purchase!
    This book was definately worth the purchase! It's got a wonderful variety of recipes. My favourite aspect is that it offers the reader recipes from different parts of the world. When making this stuff, it's like travelling through sacred foods. Fermenting is such an amazing process/experience and taste. It's so good for you, and it's cheap to make. It just takes some time, and watching your food/drinks ferment is an exciting 'scientific experiment'. We are told the opposite that eating something like this will make us sick. It's actually the opposite, not eating this stuff IS making us sick. In the western world, we have more problems with digestion then ever before. Eating a variety of 'homeade' fermented foods aids in digestion, and is way more fun to eat, then popping dead pills. Enjoy!...more info
  • Wonderful information
    A refreshing look at fermentation without hyper-pasteurization. Some other book's yogurt recipes I've followed have pasteurized the product three times between cow and refrigerator. This book pushes for unpasteurized milk where possible for yoghurts and cheeses. A refreshing change from chemistry-lab fermentation.

    Covers a rich array of fermented products, with the exclusion of any meat products. If you want to ferment fish, I recommend a good Tai cookbook. I've never seen recipes for other meats.

    As an aside, the author does use the book to spread his political thoughts, though I don't feel it's out of format for this book. The book is pretty clearly about sustainable living with the land, instead of against it, as can be seen in his desire to let things ferment naturally as much as possible. The political commentary is mostly along the same lines. The author is gay and does live on a hippy commune, if that offends your sensibilities you probably should keep that in mind.

    Pros: Recipes are detailed and have a personal story to each recipe.

    Cons: Some details are lacking, such as how to store some products. But the author clearly pushes a exploratory style of recipe following.

    Sean...more info
  • Perfect Balance!
    Wild Fermentation is informative and practical. Specific and flexible. Background and application. Upbeat and profound. In other words, it's a book with balance. The reader can learn all about the great reasons to consume fermented foods and also learn to make them. I've tried several of the recipes -- they've all worked out more or less, and I think the less part has to do with my skill and attentiveness rather than the clarity of the directions. I can't wait to try out some more!...more info
  • Fermented Goodness
    Ok - one of my new pursuits is fermented vegetables. This time-proven storage technique has been all but lost in our culture. This book was extremely useful in identifying the types of foods that can be fermented as well as describing several techniques. The biggest return was on the varied recipes. I've already tried a couple of them.

    If you haven't already, check out the Harsch Fermenting Crock Pot. For small batches these crocks are the best equipment for the job. I can also recommend the sauerkraut "stomper" from Lehmans.com...more info
  • This book has everything!
    This is bar none the greatest book on fermenting things, ever. No where else will you find a reference to someone making kombucha out of Mountain Dew. Enough said......more info
  • Full of life and learning
    I found and still find this text to be ever so enlightening. Not only have I explored more in the kitchen with fermentation, making kraut and kombucha among other things, i have enjoyed bringing some fermentation "experiments" into the classroom that I teach in. Also, I have found that Katz is a fascinating human being and I have been truly inspired by his political and social ideas regarding life, death, health and fermenting. If you are interested in fermenting or if you suffer from illness and need relief outside of western medicine, I think this book will inspire you and hopefully bring you to a deeper place in health and healing. A must own!...more info
  • Great book for lazy cooks
    This is one of the best books I have ever purchased. It has changed the way our family eats and drinks. We have been trying to eat locally for years, but get discouraged by all the energy needed to preserve foods by canning them and freezing them. This book teaches you the basics to preserve tasty foods without fear of death beacause you unwittingly deviated from a recipe. Sandor Katz presents information in a way that empowers you to think about what you are eating, and prepare it how you like it. If you haven't eaten fermented foods, you should. There is a depth of flavor that is not replicated in any other way.

    I am pleased to have this book in my arsenal of cooking inspirations. Buy it. Borrow it. Give it as a gift. Ferment everything....more info
  • A little disappointing...
    As soon as you open this, you get problems. First of all, the man who wrote this book is a vegan, and does not include any fermentation on meat. Good luck living in the wild without a concentrated source of energy and nutrients. We run yet again into problems where much of the fermentation isn't even wild, in particular for dairy. I understand dairy isn't usually available in the wild, but the book is about wild fermentation, right? If you want to learn about fermentation of dairy or grains, you can find all the info you need for free searching on google. Soak, sprout and ferment...If you want to ferment meat, you're going to have to find another source anyways.

    The attempt at appearing philosophical at the start of the book was purtty unimpressive.

    Other than all of the other problems, there is a wide variety of fermentation of products, and it will suit you well if you're a vegan/vegetarian....more info
  • Fermented Author...
    I purchased this book in conjunction with Nourishing Traditions and at the recommendation of Amazon.com. Last time I do that. The author sees nothing wrong with promoting his "way left into oncoming traffic" unhealthy, unappetizing, and uninteresting, alternative (being nice here) lifestyle.

    I would HIGHLY recommend that you NOT purchase this book, but if you were duped into buying this product, use it to start your wood cook stove. ...more info
  • A Down to Earth book on Fermentation for a Food Source
    The first part of the book provides some background, without all that scientific jargon of nutritionists, just plain and simple language. Then the book gives what it promises - lots of recipes and instructions on fermentation for all areas of food and drink. I have started growing a large garden and will enjoy many of the ideas in this book as I ferment my pickles, cabbage, beans, and berries, and explore the health benefits....more info
  • Wild Fermentation
    This is the only cookbook that I know of that you will read from cover to cover. It is not the dry "do this in this order" kind of book, it walks with you on your culinary endevors like your mom or grandma would, telling you stories along the way, including the secrets that make not just sourdough bread, but unforgettable sourdough bread.

    Sandor doesn't just tell us, he shows us, how to be self-sufficient about making and storing food (with little need for a stove or a refrigerator): making sourdough, cheese, miso, making tempeh, making wine, beer and, it seems, almost every other fermented food made the world over. And he gives you a list of resources where you can order the most mundane and exotic of starter cultures and even seaweed from our own Atlantic coast.

    And your concept of "self" will never be the same again. He shows us how to reclaim and restore a part of ourselves that has protected us like the ozone layer protects the earth: the world of microbes in and around us, the protective cloak of the microecology that is meant to be a part of us like our skin.

    Fermented foods restore a health balance like no probiotics and vitamins can. Happy reading, happy fermenting, happy eating!...more info

  • viva fermented foods!
    To refer to this as a 'cookbook' is disingenuous; it's a book about life and living foods! Having first read through a 20-ish page xeroxed copy of Katz' guide to fermented foods, I welcomed the increased breadth and volume covered in this published edition. I especially appreciate the cited references, although some works are relied on too heavily and there is a relative dearth of scientific citations. That said, there are some and the critique is balanced by the realization that Western science and nutrition have not been overly interested in such topics. A friend with Krohn's disease is hopeful it will help him to find foods he can more easily digest. Katz' book is an unconventional guide to storing foods with methods proven useful over centuries of preservation....and years in his own kitchen. It's detailed, thought provoking and contains a host of colorful characters worth reading about all on their own. It gets four stars because I look forward to a 2nd edition - thanks for a fine book!...more info
  • Wine making
    Love the ideas in this book. Have not made any wine as yet, but will in the future....more info
  • Best Cookbook Ever!
    I love this book so much. It's well written, with clear, concise, unintimidating instructions for so many kinds of ferments. The start of each chapter is a bit of history and commentary, and it's as much fun to read the non-recipe parts as it is to look at the recipes and make plans to incorporate fermented foods in your diet.
    For me, the most inspiring instructions were for the ginger ale, the sourdough starter, and the vinegar. I love the idea of making my own vinegars from scratch for on salads, and I love baking bread, the idea of doing it with my own wild yeast starter is really exciting.
    I love his introduction chapters, and his philosophy about fermenting. I've recommended this book both to people I know who are really interested in politics and sociology and people who are interested in cooking. It's fun to read, I can't think of any other "cook book" I've sat and read cover to cover for fun....more info
  • Delicious!
    I love this book! We've already successfully made yogurt with the info gleaned from this book, and are now trying to get our hands on some kombucha mother ...

    The book is easily readable and PACKED with useful and interesting data.

    Sandor Ellix Katz is the king of cultures! The master of molds! Very excellent book ... get it!...more info
  • Great Book, essential recipes
    This book does meander over the bull details that make some cookbooks so boring. The essentials are here, straightforward. It speaks of the best and most simple methods of fermentation. He also describes the science behind the fermentation in the most practical manner possible.
    The simplicity and clear prose speaks to the way nature intended fermentation.

    ENJOY!...more info
  • Changed the way I look at food preservation
    I LOVE this book. I've made vinegar pickles in the usual way, but lactic fermantation made me nervous (Really? No vinegar? Won't it spoil?). Sandor's explanation of the whys and history of lactic fermentation really opened my eyes- and, even putting all the myriad health benefits aside, lactic fermentation is SO much tastier than vinegar pickling.

    This book is a great compliment to my favorite pickling recipe book, "The Joy of Pickling" by Linda Zeidrich. Sandor's book is not exactly a recipe book. If you happen to knit, I'd say that Sandor is the Elizabeth Zimmermann of fermenting- like her, he believes that improvisation is the very heart of being human. If you're uncomfortable improvising, lots of traditional pickling recipes can be made via lactic- simply omit the vinegar. So far, both my improvisational and recipe'd results have been extrordinary.

    There are a lot of complaints in the reviews that Sandor inserts too much politics into this book. Deal with it- food IS political. If you're a christianist wing-nut, you'll no doubt hate this book. But if you're a proud liberal or a thoughtful moderate, you'll probably cheer like I did-- go Sandor go! I really look forward to reading his other books....more info
  • A Much Needed Review of Fermentation
    This is an essential book for anyone interested in the manifold uses of fermentation in their food. Cheese is just the start. There's a lot of healthful information, but there's also just an awful lot of good-tasting food in this book and I hope he follows it up with a sequel SOON! Katz's writing style and historical understanding of fermentation and his devotion to teaching the methods are admirable. I highly recommend this book for any foodie, locavore, or home cook looking to try something new....more info
  • The Katz Pajamas
    I love this book. Not only is it a comprehensive (and surprising) overview of how pervasive live culture is in the foods we consume, it also is a very helpful guide to making some of these things at home. The style is casual, friendly and the information comes from the writer's own deep experience. Although one reviewer accuses the writer of being "political", there is no agenda pushed here other than encouraging the reader to try making his or her own sourdough, sauerkraut, or beer. And, there is absolutely NO dirty joke on page 10, as one homophobic reviewer claims. If you are a DIY cook or baker, you need to get this book!...more info
  • Kim Chi Heaven
    I love this book and already have Kim Chi brewing in the cupboard. I was looking for a book that would help me combine an interesting array of veggies in fermented form and Sandor Elix Katz' book was the perfect compliment to my Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig....more info
  • Cross cultural fermentation methods with a side of Activism
    Sandor Ellix Katz has constructed a beautiful, concise, and well researched book on pre-industrial fermentation methods around the world. The book is written with an erudition and a playfullness that betray a great passion for reconnecting with ecosystems and people through ancient traditions. If you are interested in making cheese but are tired of having to buy supplies you don't necessarily need, you'll find out how to make cheese with just milk and vinegar in this book. If you wondered how the ancients used to make beer without all our supplies, you'll find out how in this book. But not only will you find out practical home scale methods for creating these beautiful fermented foods, but you will also discover the beautiful biodiverse world of microbiology.

    We tend to think that only the meso or macro scales have been homogenized, but Sandor destroys this idea by showing us how even the micro-scale has been homogenized. Our fermented foods and drinks are produced with very few mass produced species that are uniform in taste and are thus quite boring. Sandor is a master at making you a sensual child again, wanting to taste all the possibilities of WILD yeast strains that are locally specific and thus are always different and "original." That sustainability is and must be a local phenomenon reaches a new dimension when you realize it in the process of fermenting foods.

    Sandor must be complemented on his incredible ability to write a (are you ready?): funny, practical, scientifically-informed, anthropologically-aware, politically-conscious, ecologically-minded, and community-based book. His own life is a testament to the beauty of the book and vica versa. One day, I hope to meet him and visit his intentional community.

    The only problem I have with this book is that it takes pathology too lightly. It is curious that Sandor has never gotten a disease from any of his experiments. Either he really knows what he's doing, or he's very lucky. While it is very obvious when your Kombucha culture has been infested with mold, if you make Kombucha tea and get a stomach ache, it will be very hard to tell why. Since it could be due to so many things, just do these experiments while doing research on your own. Don't let fear prevent you from experimenting though, just do your research!

    Additional reading recommendations are:
    The Permaculture Book of Ferment & Human Nutrition - by Bill Mollison
    Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods - by Keith Steinkraus...more info
  • Amazing!
    I received this book as a Christmas present, and plowed through it in a day. I like the format of the book, and that the author shares with us more of his life and other interests. I've been thoroughly inspired to make fermented food for my health, culture, and history. ...more info
  • The stuff of life
    I didn't expect how much I'd get into this when I picked it up, but Sandor's writing is clear and engaging and the subject is universal. I love that he talks about the history and the culture of fermentation alongside the concrete details of just making it work yourself with the kinds of things you have at hand.

    It's true that fermentation is a fundamental chemical process that human beings have used for thousands of years to make food edible and tasty, but we've lost touch with that when we peel back the plastic on store-bought food. We've also forgotten the magical transformations involved, and this book lets you do that for yourself. Now I just have to find a good crock somewhere....more info

  • I love this book
    I ran across this book while looking for a recipe for kimchi -- a Korean buddy had failed to bring me his family recipe so I had to resort to white-man's version. It's true that this is not your standard cookbook with a recipe per page and nothing else -- there's lots of 'else'. Often I find cookbook philosophy is padding, but in this case I found it riveting. As soon as I read the debunking of antibacterial soap I knew this book was for me. I'm now on my umpteenth batch of kimchi, which my Korean buddy rates as reminiscent of the (simple) country style. I'll take that as praise. And I have ventured into many other fermented foods introduced to my by this book. So this book has done all I want from a cookbook by opening up new vistas in delicious food and putting new ventures into my day, not to mention being healthy for me and mine....more info
  • Fascinating revelation about fermented food
    It's amazing how much is going on in the air around us and how we can learn to benefit by using what He has provided to nourish our bodies. And it's fun too! Enjoy!...more info
  • How easy to be healthy
    Tons of info and easy to follow instructions. We have had amazing results with what we've tried. Highly recommend....more info
  • wonderful information!
    Lots of great recipes and practical advice for making fermented foods work in your kitchen.
    Any mentions to his orientation and living situation are made in passing and do not make much difference to the book. If he had thanked his wife and kids instead, nobody would have noticed....more info
  • Wonderful information but cloaked in uncomfortable draping...
    This book really is wonderful in its coverage of fermentation recipes. My kitchen is brimming with them at the moment. I have millet porridge, saurkraut, kimchi, sour dough starter, kefir, and yogurt all going right now. If you want to find recipes that are simple and inexpensive then this is a great book. If you are at all uncomfortable about alternative lifestyles, however, you may not be able to stomach this book. I accidentally bought two and was going to give the extra to my mother in law, but I knew she wouldn't probably appreciate it. I ended up returning the extra copy. The author has AIDS and lives in a queer commune where they call themselves faeries and does go into some depth about his lifestyle. If you are ok with this then it would be a great book for you....more info
  • A rare gem
    Sandorkraut has done a superb job of gathering his practical experience about fermenting foods, and putting it all done in a fun-to-read book. This book became an instant favorite of mine. I finally know that I am not alone in my fascination of fermention. This book will supplement anyone with a homemade wine, beer, or mead hobby. If you've ever wanted to make your own lacto-fermented veggies, this book is a must read. Great job Sandor!...more info
  • Great Recipes, Truthful Commentary
    This is a great book about how to make some of your own fermented foods, including pickles.
    The author also writes a bit about himself, and does not try to be politically correct, but tells it like it is.
    I felt that this was totally appropriate, as life is oftentimes a messy, unpredictable, organic journey and it takes all kinds - just like making fermented foods.
    I enjoyed reading about the author, and the recipes are good....more info


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