The Art of Fermentation with Sandor Katz

The workshop The Art of Fermentation, lead by Sandor Katz, was held in Skálholt in South of Iceland over the weekend of 3rd to 4th September. Sandor Katz is a renowned American food writer and food activist who calls himself a “fermentation fetishist”. The workshop was organised by Studio Bragginn which is run by the couple Bjarki Þór Sólmundsson, chef, and Erna Elínborga Skúladóttir, artist, both fermentation enthusiast. Studio Bragginn is a creative platform where people can come to learn about sustainability and share creative experiences. Studio Bragginn organises workshops regularly and has previously had workshops in cheese making and craft beer brewing. 

In the workshop, The Art of Fermentation, participants got hands-on experience in a wast variety of fermented food and drinks including sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, sourdough and kvass. Sandor Katz also gave various interesting examples of how fermentation has been used in various ways around the world. People have fermented their porridge to increase its nutritional value and prevent famine. Before there were refrigerators, fish, intended for sushi, was stored in rice to preserve it with the help of fermentation. In some parts of the world people would chew in sugar cane plants and spit in water for it to ferment and produce an alcoholic beverage. The fact is that living things want to ferment. It’s actually harder to prevent them from fermenting.

Sandor Katz has been in the forefront of the fermentation movement for the past 20 years. He has travelled the world studying and teaching fermentation and has published 6 books. His book Wild Fermentation, first published in 2003, is considered by many an essential for anyone interested in fermentation. In 2021 he published The Art of Fermentation which can be called an encyclopaedia of fermentation as it describes almost every fermentation process thinkable. In his new book, Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys, he celebrates and shares traditional fermentation processes he has encountered on his many journeys around the world. Sandor Katz is the most experienced advocate of all things fermented. It was therefore a great opportunity to attend his workshop, especially for those interested in and researching the relationship between humans and microbiomes.