Remember the first time you combined baking soda and vinegar? Well, fermentation is backyard science for adults. You shove a bunch of everyday items in a tub and wait for it to start fizzing. Then you get to drink it. It either performs wonders for your health, or gets you drunk. In many cases, both. You really don’t even need your own lab coat, but you can wear one if you really want.
Following a big (read: long, dark) night on some hard-hitting Sailor’s Grave’s masterpieces, a healthy pick-me-up was what I wanted/needed. We return to the butter factory, the marks of the previous night’s rituals cleared from the scene. It’s transformed into what seems like a bustling, bubbling farmers market. Piles of innocuous vegetables sit next to vials and beakers and bottles, all stoppered and brimming with potential. The surrounding crowd is brighter, and more bushy-tailed than I am. There are notebooks and eager faces a-plenty.
The industrial revolution of food (the reason your bread is white and soulless) has done terrible things to our insides. Basically, your gut is meant to host a thriving civilisation, and decades of ‘good, clean food’ has committed a genocide in our gut. It’s time to re-populate, and Victorian state legislation makes it hard to buy the good stuff – so put down the watered-down kombucha.
Our enigmatic host, Sharon Flyn, begins. Gratefully, she is the opposite of a scientist. She’s here for the flavour, the funk, the goodness. Full of bounce and energy, no doubt due to the magic of her homebrews. She admits, between the mead tasting and the Jun tea demonstration, that there is a certain ‘witchiness’ about her craft. And it is a craft. If there is one thing to take from the workshop, it’s that there is plenty of happy trial and error, and that mistakes are a part of the process, so don’t be afraid. After just minutes watching Sharon, you’ll want to set your own kitchen to fizzing and bubbling.
More enlightened times call for more magic in our food. And if something is worth fermenting, it’s worth fermenting yourself.
The Fermentary hold regular workshops around Victoria with Hawthorn, Daylesford and Northcote all planned for July. You can find out more here.