Wednesday, January 1, 2014

And So Begins My Year of Fermentation

Hopefully by now you've caught my big news: that I'm living off of only fermenting foods for 2014. The book I'll be writing is (probably going to be) called The Fermented Man, and in addition to the longer write-ups I'm doing here at, you can follow along at my new Tumblr, And as always, follow me on Twitter @bearflavored, or on Facebook.

Well, today was the day of reckoning, and so this crazy experiment is really now happening. I put my photography skills to the test over the last couple weeks and tried to document the journey up until now, which mostly involved staying up really late one night and cutting up a bunch of veggies. I won't be posting a ton of food-fermentation pictures (regularly) here on Bear Flavored, so if you're more into the visual thing, make sure to check in with that whole business.

Earlier in December, I spent a Sunday afternoon driving around to local farmer's markets and came home with a very nice bounty of veggies ready for fermenting. Food fermentation isn't really based on exact recipes like cooking — it's more of a general, adaptable process. Think two vegetables sound like they would be good 'pickled' together? Go for it. My cucumber pickles fermented alongside baby red potatoes may be super weird — don't know, but I'll find out soon.

My girlfriend Lena kindly helped me dice and trim veggies, which was very nice of her, because otherwise I would have been up the entire night. (I was still up until 2 AM, as it was, and didn't even finish everything.) While she got started on hard work, I enjoyed a California Lager from Anchor. It has a bear on the label, therefore: must buy.

An absurd amount of red cabbage went into this 1-gallon jug. With no advance plan of how much to make, I ended up going back to the store the next morning to buy a couple more heads of cabbage to fill the kraut up to the top.

 I had to do some pickles.

Some Napa cabbage, ready to be kimchi'd.

Fermented peppers, red onions, tomatoes, beets, and some other stuff.

Later today I’ll be trying them out. Fingers crossed they all turned out good, but there's enough fermented goodies in my fridge right now that a bad batch or two won't kill me. 

On Monday, the FermUp podcast had me on as a guest for their "New Year's Resolutions" themed episode. If you want to listen to me speculate about any possible super-powers I may develop, stumble / ramble as I attempt a succinct explanation of sour beer, and realize that there is a very real possibility some generous soul might ship fermented sharkmeat to my apartment so that I have no choice but to try it, give that a listen. And let me know how I did — it was my first podcast and I would be a liar if I said I wasn't a little nervous. After that, give the rest of the episodes a go too; there's lots of great info there on a variety of fermentation subjects.

Now, catching up to the present — I started my adventure on New Year's Day with a light breakfast of yogurt and coffee (black), got in a few hours of reading to prepare for my next round of ferments, and then, at long last, had my first fully-fermented meal of 2014. I kept things simple: bread with labne (a spreadable cheese that’s somewhere in between yogurt and cream cheese), Beemster goat gouda, Spanish olives, and naturally fermented pickles. Washed down with some homemade kombucha. All tasty, all impossible without fermentation.

Of course, this is only the beginning. Thanks for reading the blog in 2013; it proved to be a great year. I've got a number of new and exciting projects in the works for 2014. Here's to an even beerier, bearier, and fully fermented year!



  1. Congrats, Derek! Looking forward to reading daily over the next year... and being able to brag about how I knew you before you were famous!

    Oh, and nice choice on the last unfermented meal yesterday... I would have chosen the same thing.

    1. Thanks Shawn!

      I agree... I thought about it for weeks, and just couldn't come up with anything else.

  2. Fun times! I'll be following along with interest. I can recommend kefir labneh, I've been making and enjoying it lately.

    1. I've never made it myself, but I've been buying kefir labneh at the store. It's really good — I use it on all kinds of bread and sandwich situations.

    2. Good stuff. You're all over it. It's great you can just buy it.

  3. Good luck with your project. If you ever need any fermenting support you might want to check out the "Fermenter's Kitchen" group on facebook. I have been using it for a couple of months now and there is a lot of knowledge and skill sharing going on. A great resource!

    1. Thanks Lucia! That's great advice, I'll definitely check the group out. Thanks for the tip!


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