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Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen [Paperback]

Alex Lewin
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 27.99
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Book Description

July 1 2012

Preserve your favorite foods through every season with Real Food Fermentation. Control your own ingredients, techniques, and additives. Learn a practical food-preparation skill you’ll use again and again. And express yourself by making something unique and whole.

Inside, you’ll find:

—All the basics: the process, the tools, and how to get started

—A guide to choosing the right ingredients

—Sauerkraut and beyond—how to ferment vegetables, including slaw-style, pickles, and kimchi

—How to ferment dairy into yogurt, kefir, crème fraîche, and butter

—How to ferment fruits, from lemons to tomatoes, and how to serve them

—How to ferment your own beverages, including mead, kombucha, vinegar, and ginger ale

—A primer on fermented meat, fish, soy, bread, and more

—Everything you need to know about why the recipes work, why they are safe, what to do if they go wrong, and how to modify them to suit your taste

Frequently Bought Together

Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen + Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods + Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
Price For All Three: CDN$ 56.70

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Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Alex Lewin, a graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, seeks to create a healthier and tastier world by spreading the word about fermentation and real food. He teaches fermentation classes and workshops and serves on the board of the Boston Public Market Association, working to create a year-round indoor market selling local food. He lives in Boston and San Francisco. Visit his blog at To learn more about this book, visit

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great resource Aug. 8 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am novice to fermented foods and I found this book extremely useful in getting me started. It is well written and explained in terms that everybody can understand and follow. I've tried several of the techniques and I am greatly enjoying my fermented foods repertoire. I would definitely recommend this book
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4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful July 4 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the beautiful pictures and layout. Great explanation of lacto fermentation. Looking forward to delving into this more as the summer progresses.
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By mistral
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very informative.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  113 reviews
382 of 403 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Limited Scope, Many Photographs, May Entice The Ferment-Wary June 9 2012
By Brandon Curtis - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had not heard of this author before, so I did a bit of background research to find out more about him.

Alex Lewin is a software engineer, health coach, and 'real food' advocate who lives in Boston and San Francisco. He has a degree from Harvard in mathematics, has completed the Professional Chef Program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, and has received training as a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He's currently working for the crowdsourced video broadcasting startups and and serving as vice president of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Boston Public Market Association. Since 2009, he has run a 'real food' blog (feedmelikeyoumeanit dot com) and led workshops on food preservation. In addition to his blog, he is active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook; a Google search turns up advertisements for his workshops, articles highlighting his volunteer activities and food advocacy, and a few mentions of his sustainable technology hedge fund, Atlas Capital Investments, in which he is a partner along with Solar Revolution author Travis Bradford. In his blog bio, he lists Vandana Shiva, Kurt Vonnegut, Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Weil, Barry Sears, Dr. Weston A. Price, Sally Fallon, and Sandor Katz as important influences. He blacked out his blog in protest of SOPA and professes a preference for free and open-source software, so he's obviously got his priorities in order.

Granted, you're buying a copy of Lewin's book and not a copy of Lewin himself. Hopefully, though, this information will help you understand this book - Lewin's first - a little better.

The Introduction and Chapter 1 cover the basic concepts of food preservation and fermentation, ending with a reasonably detailed overview of the kitchen equipment you will most likely need to create this book's recipes.

Lewin cares deeply where the food he's fermenting has come from. Chapter 2 ("Know Your Ingredients," 20 pages) is entirely devoted to the issue of Real Food, covering topics including food freshness and buying local. Instead of making a blanket declaration that organic produce is always superior, Lewin advocates that consumers open a dialog with food producers to really understand where their food comes from. While this might be possible in a farmer's market, he concedes that it is not always practical. I like the vision he has for a better world, but I also appreciate that he is realistic.

The recipes themselves fill out the remaining 110 pages. Chapters are devoted to sauerkraut, vegetables, dairy, fruits, beverages, and meat. Unlike Sandor Katz, Lewin makes no attempt to be comprehensive: beer, wine, soy (soy sauce, tempeh, natto, and miso), and even bread receive only a few short words of description and do not include recipes. Strategically, I think this makes sense - Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation already exist, and there is no point in duplicating them. Instead, Lewin has presented a small number of very well tested recipes in such a way that even the most inexperienced and conservative in the kitchen might be enticed to try them out.

Covered in detail: sauerkraut; root and other vegetables; Caroline-style slaw; cucumber pickles; kimchi, yogurt; strained yogurt and whey; kefir; creme fraiche; butter and buttermilk; preserved lemons and limes; peach and plum chutney; pico de gallo; hard apple cider; mead; kombucha; vinegar; ginger ale; corned beef.

In contrast to the often rather vague 'recipes' in Katz' seminal works, these are laid out much more like they would be in a traditional cookbook: each recipe includes a quantitative ingredient list followed by very explicit instructions and many, many photographs.

Ahhh, the photographs! - they are rather gratuitous. In the sauerkraut recipe, for instance, an entire page is devoted to six full-color photographs and 100 words illustrating how to chop a bell pepper. One half of the surface area of pages 70-71 are images of, variously: water being poured into a Mason jar; a root vegetable being coined; salt pouring from a bowl into some water; and a food processor. While some of these images - for instance, an illustration on page 60 entitled 'The Evolution of Sauerkraut' that shows how the colors change as fermentation progresses - are quite helpful, nine out of every ten serve more to titillate than to educate. This is food porn, and in his blog Lewin is unapologetic:

"There are other fermentation books out there, including some new ones, but to be honest, mine is the prettiest by far..."

While 'The Art of Fermentation' is laid out more like a textbook, 'Real Food Fermentation' has a very modern (love it or hate it) layout. The margins and line spacing are broad, and large full-color photographs fill about one out of every three pages. While it has about the same number of pages as 'Wild Fermentation', the open layout fits significantly less text per page - I received the book this morning and read it straight through in a day. Those experimenting with fermentation for the first time, however, may find the pictures to be worth a thousand words.

I will update this review with more information about the recipes once I have had an opportunity to try them. The Carolina slaw, pico de gallo, and plum chutney look especially good, so I'm setting up this weekend to ferment them exactly as written.

If you're brand new to fermentation, consider purchasing this book and Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods to complement eachother.

If you want an encyclopedic account of food fermentation's history around the world and aren't as interested in recipes, The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World is your book.

If you dislike Katz' work for its frequent philosphical wanderings and lack of explicit instructions, try this book instead.

If you already have, use, and love Wild Fermentation and Art of Fermentation, you will probably not find much new information in this book. It will, however, be a useful coffee table trap for luring sometimes-reticent friends and family into your art.
88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for total beginners Oct. 26 2012
By VegGirl - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really like this book and I will definitely recommend it to ANYONE who is just getting started in the world of fermentation. I do wish I had realized that it was only basics before I had purchased, but nonetheless, there are some good tips and tricks even for people with a bit more experience.
On the whole, if you are the type that does better with specifics, if you find the Katz books too open to work from, you will enjoy this. If you are an experimenter, you'll probably feel like I do. It's pretty, the author knows his business, but there isn't a whole lot of exciting and new stuff to learn here.
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! Just what I was looking for. June 19 2012
By Leslie - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book. The author goes into great detail about fermenting foods step by step. There are a lot of pictures to follow. I love the recipes in here. There's lots of information on the scientific process of fermenting foods. He goes into which fruits and vegetables to use and what processes you can use. I have been looking for a book that goes into more recipes than other fermenting books out there and this one is definitely it. I would recommend this for beginners and experienced people that like to ferment their food.
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Starter Book Dec 12 2012
By M. Schoch - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had purchased other Fermenting books before I bought this one. I should have started out with this one instead. Cover many types of foods, vegetable, milk meat etc. The best thing is that he explains what started to use and why. Also has some good recipes that don’t take much time but give good results. If you are starting with Fermentation, I would recommend this book. You might save money by not buying other books that really don’t explain what you need to know.
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book. Skip the others. Oct. 24 2012
By G. Boulton - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After spending the last couple of years making drinks that go fizz, it was time for me to turn my attention to foods that go fizz... in a good way.

I already had a couple of fermentation books (Art of Fermentation, Cultured Food Life), but once I got this one it quickly became the only one I turned to. At any one time I usually have at least three of the recipes contained herein bubbling/festering away. (Currently Carolina slaw, crème fraîche and yogurt.)

The pictures are clear, the explanations are thorough, and everything's shown and explained so well you can't wait to just do something - provided the ingredients are on-hand, of course. And most importantly the results are great! (Or in internet-speak, nomnomnom.)

One of my dogs even liked this book - so much so that he took it off the bookshelf and consumed half the introduction while I was out one day. It's that good of a book that although the recipes are still all intact, I'm considering buying it again so I have a pristine copy to be able to leaf through and mull what to try next.
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