Tag Archives: fermentation

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation: A Course Review

Foraging for plants in your neighborhood. Fermentation and bubbling jars. Homemade concoctions and kitchen experiments. Community. Joy! Can the combination get any better?

I received a free copy of the Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. 

If you’ve been reading for the past few months, you may know that I was gradually working my way through the Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course from Herbal Academy. Today, I wanted to follow up on my previous posts and sum up my experience with the course.


If you’re looking for the conclusion before you read the review, this is it: it’s FABULOUS. The course was super fun, educational, engaging, inspiring, chock full of information, and bursting with possibilities.

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

What You’ll Learn Through the Course

I’ve been fermenting various things for over a year now, so I’ll be honest- I was wondering how much I would learn by taking the course. As it turns out, I discovered there’s lots I don’t know about fermentation- particularly in relation to herbal ferments.

Here’s what you’ll learn to make through the Herbal Fermentation Course:

  • Herbal beer
  • Herbal wine
  • Herbal mead
  • Herbal kombucha
  • Herbal water kefir
  • Herbal lacto-fermented vegetables

These items are covered in four main units. Each unit includes both written & video lessons that cover every possible question you could have about how to make a particular fermented food or beverage. These lessons will cover topics such as:

  • History and/or cultural significance of the food or beverage
  • List of necessary (and unnecessary) supplies
  • Basic instructions for preparation
  • Video and/or pictorial instructions for visual learners
  • Printable reference charts
  • Specific recipes & guidelines for experimentation
  • Storage needs and/or bottling instructions
  • Safety guidelines
  • FAQs & answers

Pouring yeast into our wildflower mead mixture.

Attention to Detail 

I love the Herbal Fermentation Course’s approach to detail. All lessons include precise information such as a plant’s scientific name, the full name of bacteria strains, or the special title for a particular style of mead. The terms are specific so that you can pursue accurate foraging and fermenting endeavors. The detailed information is also a great starting point for further and deeper research.

What if all that detail seems overwhelmming? Don’t worry. Some of us- myself included- have no idea what the Latin name for such and such a plant is and feel hopelessly unable to remember it. Be assured that the information in the course is presented in such a non-intimidating way that you can easily learn all that you need to know without prior botanical or bacterial knowledge.

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

Qualified & Inspiring Teachers

The teachers in each course unit are experienced, qualified, and spirited. From ethnobiology to acupuncture, all are well-studied teachers with multiple backgrounds, credentials, and learning experiences behind their names.

Each teacher brings his or her own unique personality and fervor to the course material. Listening to each instructor feels like getting to know a friend just as much as it feels like learning. The Herbal Academy says this about its team of instructors:

“We offer high quality, affordable herbal studies programs to empower our students, and celebrate the community- centered spirit of herbalism by collaborating with a wide diversity of herbalists to create an herbal school that presents many herbal traditions and points of view. ” (Read more here.)

Gorgeous & Practical Course Materials 

The course itself is very visually appealing to anyone who loves plants or fermentation. The videography is tasteful and the photos are beautiful. While you must complete the course within a certain amount of time, the materials are downloadable and printable so you can keep them forever. Additionally, you can choose to upgrade your course purchase to include laminated recipes and charts delivered to your home.

Conclusion

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation course is beautiful, informative, inspiring, and enabling. it took me from “that sounds intimidating” to “I can do this!” In fact, I have now successfully made several kinds of herbal ferments that I have never tried making before.

I highly recommend the course to anyone interested in herbs, foraging, fermenting, probiotic health, or just becoming more engaged with the natural world around them. The Herbal Fermentation course show us just how rich with possibilities each edible plant can be, and helps us to infuse not only our plants, but also our lives with the goodness of creation’s bounty.

Click here to learn more about the Craft of Herbal Fermentation.

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

Related posts:

Fermentation: Building Culture & Community

Lacto-fermentation is a hot trend right now. However, though it may seem like a new thing for young, health-conscious weirdos, the practice has  been around for thousands of years. In fact, for about as long as there have been people, there has been fermentation. As it turns out, it’s also been a huge part of culture and community for all that time.

How fermentation has played into culture and community for thousands of years.

This post contains affiliate links. 


Preservation & Food Safety

Fermentation is a fantastic way to preserve food without refrigeration. How does it work? While methods vary from food to food, generally the process  is the same. Fermentation occurs when the naturally occurring bacteria on food is combined with some sort of culture: whey, wild yeasts, or, in modern days, a purchased strain of starter culture. Keep the fermenting food away from oxygen and leave it at room temperature. The good bacteria will grow, and the food will transform into a tangy, bubbly treasure that can safely be stored in a cool environment for months.

You can imagine how helpful a process fermentation would have been in the days without refrigeration, freezers, or dehydrators. Food could be thrown in a vessel with some salt, covered, and safely fermented for long-term storage. Vegetables became pickles, milk became cheese- you get the idea.

You can also imagine how this would have improved food safety. How did people drink without access to clean water? You guessed it: beer and wine. The fermentation process eliminates any bad bacteria and creates a nutritional drink that can be safely consumed.

Traditional Foods

Every culture has foods that are traditionally prepared through fermentation. Some of them are easily recognizable; others I’ve never heard of. Here are some examples:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Yogurt
  • Sourdough bread
  • Cheese
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Togwa
  • Pickles
  • Soy Sauce
  • Miso
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Salami
  • Whey
  • Fermented condiments, chutneys, etc.

The list goes on and on… Some of these foods have geographically specific origins; others have been made across so many regions that it’s hard to tell where they started. Regardless, it’s safe to say that fermented foods are wide-spread and common across cultures and times.

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

Celebrations & Traditions

Food has always been a part of almost any celebration. It seems that the craft and time taken in preparing fermented foods only adds to the sacred nature of a special occasion.

I was absolutely fascinated by a lecture on “cultural topsoil” by Marc Williams, ethnobiologist and teacher of the herbal mead brewing portion of the Herbal Fermentation Course. Marc writes:

“Brewing herbal mead can be much more than simply making an alcoholic beverage. Indeed, for me, brewing herbal mead is a ritualistic journey of celebrating community—honoring the people, places, and plants that have provided guidance, knowledge, friendship, or support throughout my life. In fact, brewing herbal mead is one method, among many in the realm of fermentation and food production, that can even be used to honor the changing of the seasons, times of year, or memorable milestones in your life and the lives of those in your community.”

How true that so many foods- fermented and otherwise- can play into our cultural traditions and celebrations.

Think about it. It’s a holiday in your house, and you’ve pulled out your great-grandmother’s special recipe that has been passed down through the generations. You may only make it once a year, but that makes it all the more special.

I know a lady who makes friendship fruit cakes every Christmas- she begins the process in November, ferments her cake batter for 30 days, then bakes them and shares both the cakes and the starters with friends.

The joy of fermented foods in particular is that they take so much time and care to create. Cabbage fermented from your own garden feels much more connected, grounded, and personal than a can of dead sauerkraut from the grocery store. An herbal ale or mead made at home from foraged plants speaks of craft, thoughtfulness, and nourishment- not drunkenness and foolishness. The fermented cake recipe from my friend tastes strongly of tradition, love, and generosity. After all, I know she’s been culturing, baking, and sharing from the same starter for years on end.

Community

Not only can fermented foods be a big part of special occasions, they can also be a beautiful part of community building. I’ve seen it over and over again: someone hears about what’s bubbling in my kitchen. She’s interested, so she wants to try a little bit. I share my creations and pretty soon she’s giving it a whirl too. I may not know her all that well, but we now have a common bond: a three year old sourdough starter (or kefir grains or kombucha scoby) that’s in both of our kitchens, actively functioning and feeding both of our families.

It’s not long til that food-sharing inspires more connections. We get together again to share another kitchen experiment. Maybe we pass it on to another person, and maybe that person shares it with someone else. It’s funny how a fermented food can become a conversation starter, an inspiration, and a friendship builder.

Culture Your Culture

Give it a try. Venture into fermented foods and see how culturing food can play into your cultural traditions. Pull out a fermented food or beverage at a special occasion and watch to see the interest it sparks. Build new connections with people who you may not know too well. Share a scoby, a bottle of kombucha, or a loaf of sourdough. Watch to see how the foods can become part of your traditions and the connections made can foster generosity, friendships, and cultural richness.

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

I highly recommend the Herbal Academy’s Herbal Fermentation Course. As a moderately seasoned fermenter, I have already learned so much! Click here for more information. 

I also love my Fermentools kit for easy, worry-free fermentation in mason jars. Check them out here. 

Build into your culture and community with fermentation!


How to Ferment Rhurbarb (+ Probiotic Rhubarb Lemonade Recipe)

Rhubarb pie in the summer

Rhubarb pie made by my mother

Nothing better in the winter


Than rhubarb pie after dinner!

There you go. Now you, too, can sing this song to yourself repeatedly when rhubarb comes into season.

You’re welcome.

However, today, I am not going to talk about rhubarb pie or give you a recipe for one. (Though I might sing about it still.) Rhubarb pie is delicious, but let’s face it. There’s already a gazillion and one recipes for it out there and you don’t need mine too.

What you do need, however, is fermented rhubarb. If that makes you want to gag, you should first read about the awesomeness of fermentation. If you’re still with me, then you need to try this. Honestly, fermented rhubarb doesn’t taste terribly different from regular rhubarb. Besides that, it’s easy to make and it’s good for you. So there. 🙂

Fermented rhubarb is easy, healthy, and tasty too. Not convinced? Try this easy fermented rhubarb lemonade recipe!

Fermented Rhubarb

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 2 Tbsp whey (leftover from cheese or yogurt-making)
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt (I use this one)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Simply mix all ingredients together and put in the fermenting vessel of your choice, leaving about 1″ headspace if you’re fermenting in a jar. Use a weight to ensure that the rhubarb stays beneath the brine. Install an airlock or properly burp your jars each day to allow for the venting of CO2 that builds up during the fermentation process. Allow to sit on the counter at room temperature for 4-7 days, then move to cold storage.

I use a Fermentools kit any time I ferment. It’s one of the least expensive kits out there, and you don’t need special jars or crocks because they fit on top of any wide mouth mason jar. It takes the guesswork out of fermenting for me. Less mistakes= money saved in the long run.

And of course, I promised you a Rhubarb Lemonade recipe too. This is super simple, and should use about half of the fermented rhubarb you just made, leaving you the other half to experiment with or eat straight from the jar. 🙂

A delicious way to get your daily probiotics- fermented rhubarb lemonade!

Probiotic Rhubarb Lemonade

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups chopped fermented rhubarb & its juices
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
  • More water to make a quart
  1. Mix sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves to make a simple syrup. Let cool and chill.
  2. Mix simple syrup and rhubarb in a quart sized mason jar or other container. Add cold water to make a quart total.

And that’s it! You’ve got the good juices from the fermented rhubarb in your lemonade, so you’re getting a dose of probiotics with each sip. I haven’t tried this with a “double brew” technique as you would with kombucha, but if you’re feeling adventurous, give it a go.

Try it? Like it? Let me know how it went for you!

 

How to Make Kombucha

“What is kombucha?” ask many of my inquisitive visitors. They’re inquiring about the jars sitting on my countertop filled with brown liquid and unidentifiable floating clumps.

Now, in my world, kombucha has been around for several years as those pricey little bottles in the health food store. I really liked it, but only bought it once a month or so. I was finally given a scoby a few months ago (more on that shortly), and after some repeated prodding from one of my high school voice students I finally got a batch going.

How to make kombucha, simply and frugally, in your own kitchen.


If you’re not familiar with it, the name “kombucha” may sound pretty exotic. However, the beverage is straightforward and easy to make. Komucha is simply fermented tea.

It can be made as an iced tea, or turned into a bubbly soda. It can be had plain, or enjoyed with a variety of flavors. While every brewer may have his favorite methods, I’ll share with you the most basic instructions for creating your own homemade kombucha.

First, you’ll need to obtain a “SCOBY,” or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. This serves as your “starter” for the kombucha. The scoby encourages the growth of the right cultures to turn your tea into certifiable ‘booch. Scobys are generally best obtained from a friend who brews kombucha, or from a cultured food supplier like Cultures for Health.

Here’s how to make kombucha tea.

  • Brew a gallon of tea. I usually use 8 regular sized tea bags for a gallon of water.
  • Add a cup of sugar to the tea. Mix well and let cool completely.
  • Pour tea into a gallon glass jar, or split it up between quart sized mason jars. (I prefer splitting it up for storage’s sake.)
  • Gently add SCOBY to each jar. (Make sure those hands are clean!)
  • Cover each jar with a coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band. Let sit out at room temperature for about a week.

How to make simple, homemade kombucha in your own kitchen.

Ta-da! You have kombucha! Pour off the liquid and save a little tea and your scoby for another batch. (Keep the scoby covered with the kombucha in the meantime.) You can store your finished kombucha in the fridge til you’re ready to drink it.

If you want kombucha “soda,” you need to let it ferment a second time, this time with some fruit or juice. You don’t need the SCOBY for the second ferment.

  • For each quart jar of kombucha, add a handful of berries or a half cup of juice. (I’ve been told to stay away from citrus juice.)
  • Cap jar tightly with the lid and let sit at room temperature for about another week. If it’s warm in your kitchen, watch to make sure the lid isn’t bulging. If it is, “burp” your jar by unscrewing the lid and closing it again.

A word to the wise for newbies: Kombucha will detox your system if you start drinking a lot of it at once. Be kind to your body, and start with 2 oz a day and gradually work your way up to a full glass. Trust me. Your digestive system will thank you.

A couple of commonly asked questions:

What if I’m avoiding sugar and caffeine? Good news: I’m told that the fermentation process eats up most of both of these substances.

Is kombucha alcoholic? Technically, there is a small amount of alcohol leftover from the fermentation process, but it’s so minimal that it can hardly count. Any age can buy and consume kombucha without concern over alcohol level.

Why ferment your tea? Fermentation is a preservation method that encourages the growth of beneficial yeasts and bacteria that help your body function better. For more info, see What’s Up with Fermentation? and 3 Health Benefits of Fermented Foods. Plus, it’s just really tasty.

Kombucha is both economical and easy to make, and is a much healthier (and tastier) alternative to soda. Why not start a batch today?

Rainbow Ferment!

Rainbow Ferment

I have to apologize for my recent fermentation kick. I went a couple months without fermenting much of anything, but spring has renewed my efforts. I don’t know what it is about warmer weather, but it always inspires me to start afresh and try to live healthier.

Along with spring and sunshine comes St. Patrick’s Day. And if you have children, you know that St. Patrick’s Day necessitates the celebration of all things rainbow. We’ve already had rainbow veggies around here:


rainbowveggies

And then rainbow veggies got me thinking… what about a rainbow ferment?

I found this really awesome recipe called “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” from The (mis)Adventures of a Born Again Farm Girl and decided I had to use it as my starting point for a rainbow ferment.

Here are the veggies I chose to make my rainbow:

  • Red- Red pepper strips
  • Orange- Baby carrots
  • Yellow- Yellow pepper strips & yellow baby carrots
  • Green- Broccoli
  • Blue/Indigo- Errr…. I cheated and didn’t include these. But I’ve heard if you ferment garlic cloves they might turn blue-ish?
  • Violet- Purple baby carrots

I also included radishes, which are somewhere in the pink/purple realm when they ferment.

Working on a #saintpatricksday themed #rainbow ferment! #lactofermentation #fermentools

A photo posted by Abigail Zieger (@theyrenotourgoats) on

Obviously, you could substitute any veggies your family most enjoys.

This is a simple project. Simply chop your veggies into bite-sized pieces. Mix ’em up (or layer them if you’re feeling fancy) and pack them tightly into a wide-mouth mason jar.

Make a 3.5% salt brine with a good salt for fermenting. (See Mindie’s post for details.) Pour over the veggies, ensuring that the brine completely covers the mixture.

Next, weigh down your vegetables under the brine and use your favorite method to allow for the release of CO2 gasses put off during fermentation. (More info on that in this post.) I love my Fermentools weight and airlock kit for this purpose!

Now, let it sit and do it’s thing. It should take about a week at room temperature until it’s ready to eat. After that, move it to cold storage and enjoy for months to come!

Have you fermented before? Answer your fermentation FAQ’s here.