Age of fermentation

“It’s alive!” cry millennials across the country as they stare into their pots, pans, and of course, locally-sourced mason jars filled with pickled vegetables and other items from the back of their fridges. This is the Phase of Fermentation, or better yet call it a new age.

Brad | Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit

Fermentation is the process of food items consuming sugar in the absence of oxygen, yielding organic acids, gases, or alcohol. Wheat turns to beer, cucumbers to pickles, and cabbage to sauerkraut. While incredibly scientific, those who avidly ferment– known as fermenters and fermentees (the feminine conjugate)– dedicate themselves to learning the difficult task.

The science behind fermentation | Photo
courtesy of PGCC

“Fermenting is incredibly complicated, but Brad from Bon Appetit really makes it simple! I’d rather learn from him, a fellow millennial, than from mainstream Food Network” Portland native Kim Chee said.

Those who have mastered the fermenting science, rise above their peers in an elite class. In many cities, fermenting groups have appeared to join together people who share the same passion for pickling.

“We have a very tight-knit circle,” San Francisco Fermenting Faction leader Vinny Gar said. “The application to enter the group alone is extensive. The interview process is very high-stakes, as we only accept people who can keep up a healthy discourse regarding Game of Thrones, organic flannels, and Ethiopian post-modern jazz.”

A fermentation classic: Korean kimchi |
Photo courtesy of Food & Wine

Besides being able to keep up with current trends and topics of conversation, the most important factor of joining one of these groups, or “cultures” as they call themselves, one must be able to produce product of the highest quality.

“I was quite nervous when I presented the SF culture my fermented Hostess Twinkies,” now two-month member Ken Brine said. “It was a daring move to pickle such a food, but I think it paid off. Those who are accepted have to show the innovation they can bring to the field of pickling.”

While the ladies of the 60’s had their Tupperware parties, the young city-dwellers of today gather together for annual fermenting parties.

Hipster couple, such as those found at fermentation
parties | Photo courtesy of Vocativ

“My first party I attended, gosh I was so nervous!” Brine said. “There was pickled ghee, caviar, bruschetta, and truffles; one woman was turned away at the door for bringing pickles– she’s now been ostracized for being too traditional.”

Fermenting groups may relish in the glory of vinegar, but not everyone is welcoming in the new food trend.

“My neighbors had a wild party the other night, and in the past I used to smell all kinds of plants, which I can tolerate, but this has gone too far,” Denver resident Mariana Juarez said. “My air vents filled with this sour smell and I almost fainted. When I went over to complain, some youth with arm-tats and a beanie told me to go listen to some Tame Impala, whatever that means. I have never been so insulted.”

Whether fermentation is met by the rest of American society with open arms or pinched noses, it looks like it’s here to stay— at least until the next trend arises. So grab your most rustic-chic glass jars and whatever you can find in your fridge, and begin to ferment.

Written by Francesca Hodges

Francesca is a senior and currently a photographer and a Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Sun. She enjoys studying astronomy and watching period pieces. At MC, she is involved in Peer Counseling, Friendship Club, and the field hockey team. In the future she plans on attending UC Berkeley to major in Global Studies.


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