Fermentation Fest: Reedsburg Wisconsin

23 Oct
by Deanne

Many health enthusiasts and foodies claim that fermented foods are easier to digest.Fermentation Logo 

Thinking it would be interesting to learn more, we found a seminar weekend in Reedsburg, Wisconsin.  In fact, there was a whole festival dedicated to the concept. After reading the blurb, we were intrigued enough to jump in our car on Saturday afternoon after our cooking class and drive to Reedsburg:

Farmers, chefs, artists, poets and cheese makers converge in the beautiful working lands of Sauk County with a series of tastings, demonstrations, cooking classes, art events, brewing seminars, farm tours and more.  

We signed up for two workshops:  Fermentation Biochemistry and The Chemistry of Fermentation Flavors

Both were led by John D E Jeffrey who is the head distiller at Death’s Door Spirits in Middleton, Wisconsin. 

By attending the classes, we were reminded that the aging of cheese, wine, whiskey, sourdough bread, balsamic vinegar, and other foods that develop complex flavor compounds such as esters can not be duplicated in the laboratory.  Think of the old world, and how processes that added flavor to foods were woven into people’s lives. Except for a few professionals employed at artisan food or drink companies and hobbyists who care, we have mostly lost the art of fermentation, and along with it those remarkable flavors.  We learned that many larger companies do laboratory tricks to attempt the old world flavors and save time and money in the production cycle of food.  Sadly we have forgotten, or in some cases, never knew what traditional fermented and developed cheese or wine taste like.

Tasting fermented foods or learning more about the health benefits didn’t work with our schedule this year.  We arrived on the last day of the conference, but in our opinion it would be worth a trip next year to spend a little more time.

After our two classes we traveled around the countryside on what they call a Farm/Art DTour.  At the first stop we had some fun with sunflowers.  The farmer on this stop owns two grocery stores and grows sunflower birdseed, sweet corn and pumpkins for the stores.  It was definitely a place kids would enjoy but with no kids along we had to have fun anyway. Here is a picture of Francine’s silly mom.

Photo of silly mom

How about you….have you ever intentionally left food on the counter to ferment?

Kraut anyone?

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