Fermentation Workshop


Connect to local food on a microscopic level with fermentation: the ancient practice of preserving and enhancing food by way of a simple dance with nature.

Anyone can safely ferment foods at home. In this class we will learn how human culture, civilization, evolution and optimum health are linked to fermentation. Why is it so important to eat fermented foods? How can you safely, easily and joyously create your own probiotic foods and beverages at home?

Our primary focus will be fundamental techniques for fermenting vegetables, but we will also talk about beverages with a focus on spontaneous fermentation. We will taste delicious examples of both.

You will leave class with:
-straightforward information on how to safely and easily ferment foods at home
-knowledge of the fascinating history and massive benefits of fermented foods
-your own just-made sauerkraut and/or brined vegetables

Pre-registration is requested. We expect this class to fill up quickly! To register, e-mail us atwildwestferments@gmail.com with ‘class registration’ in the subject line and we will send along the details. Or come visit us at the Farmers’ Market. Point Reyes Station Saturdays 9-1 at Toby’s Feed Barn. San Rafael Civic Center market Sundays 8-1.
Workshop Fee is sliding scale $40- $65
Participating in the lecture only is a possibility for a discount, please contact us if you are interested in this option.

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Smreka species?

There have been some questions specifically regarding Juniper species and edibility.

The type of juniper berry is important, there are supposedly several types of edible juniper. In addition to J. communis, other edible species include Juniperus drupacea,[2] Juniperus oxycedrus,[3] Juniperus phoenicea,[4] Juniperus deppeana, and Juniperus californica.

Juniperus communis is what we have been using here in the U.S., and that is what is commonly available at the store. We realized when we returned to the U.S. and started brewing our own Smreka that it had a (although delicious) slightly different flavor than the distinctly sour beverage we had in Sarajevo.  We are trying to find out what the commonly used species of Juniper is in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we will let you know once we know.

We think the berries can be used fresh or dried, but one should do their own research. One thing to note about using herbs in general is that more of a fresh herb is usually needed to get the same medicinal or flavor effects than when using dried herbs.  From what we read online about Juniper, the opposite may be true.  Also, our Smreka recipe is based in volume and not on weight.  This is worth mentioning because fresh Juniper berries will weigh more than dried Juniper berries, which will effect the recipe.  We have never seen fresh Juniper berries available for sale.  If  you are harvesting your own berries it is very important to know what species you are working with (as there are over 40 and only some are considered edible).  Also, Juniper berries take years to ripen, so pay attention to that aspect as well.

The jury seems to be out on whether Juniper toxicity must be considered. We are not experts, and certainly one should do there own research. My conclusion is that one should try it out and if you experience any discomfort stop consumption.

Initially we did not say anything in this regard as our initial research regarding toxicity convinced us that it is not a concern. Nonetheless some say there is a risk to the kidneys.  The following study shows that indeed there is no toxicity, yet some people do complain of discomfort so use your own judgment.

“The nephrotoxicity of juniper oil … was evaluated in … rats after oral administration. Two … slightly different oil batches were tested for 28 days with 100, 333 or 1000 mg … resp. 100, 300 or 900 mg … juniper oil/kg. Additionally terpinene-4-ol … was tested in a dosage of 400 mg/kg. Neither of the tested substances induced changes in function or morphology of the kidneys at the tested doses, and they were revealed to be nontoxic.”
Schilcher H, Leuschner F., The potential nephrotoxic effects of essential juniper oil., Arzneimittelforschung. 1997 Jul;47(7):855-8.

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Valentine’s mini-market

Join us for an exciting market….

Special Guests: Bolano- will be selling delicious edibles containing WILD HARVESTED ACORNS as well as other fabulous crafts!

We will have the following product for sale:

  • Strawberry Kiss Soda
  • Currant Cardamom Soda
  • Twice Sown Sauerkraut (Cumin & Coriander)
  • Sauer Beets (Lemon, Parsley, Cumin)
  • Beet Salad (Mustard seed,Caraway seed)
  • Roots Culture Kimchi (limited supply)

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Smreka makes a splash!

So…it was almost two years ago now that we stumbled upon our greatest discovery. While strolling past an unassuming cafe on the outskirts of Sarajevo, Bosnia, we glanced in to see a large glass jar of something that looked suspiciously like a fermentation project. After a long time of mixed up communications we found out that it was, indeed, a fermented beverage. Smreka was the name, because that’s all it was. Smreka means ‘juniper’ in Bosnian – and this beverage is made of nothing more than juniper berries and water that are left to ferment for one month. The berries are then strained out, and it is served cold, with a heaping spoonful of sugar. We had ours sour and fell in love instantly. It is a simple, sour, pro-biotic tonic with subtle reminders of gin. We were so happy with our discovery. Here was a ferment that we had never before seen nor heard of!
We came home and started making it and spreading the good word about Smreka.  Soon, none other than Sandor Katz (the fermentation fetishist who is re-awakening the west to fermentationcaught on and now Smreka is known by thousands throughout the country, and no doubt, the world!  (See his latest mass email, below).  For instructions on how to make Smreka yourself check out the beverage section of this blog.  Have fun!

From Sandor Katz:

Hello friends,
> I ve been in semi-seclusion trying to get my new book written. It s
> another book on fermentation, more in-depth, more ferments, more
> variations (many contributed by readers of Wild Fermentation and
> people who have written to me), more exploration of underlying
> processes, and more troubleshooting. The new book is coming along,
> but slowly. I m currently projecting completing the manuscript by
> September. I ve been doing lots of experiments. Lately I ve been
> malting barley, making saké, hammanatto, and one of my new favorites,
> smreka, a tonic beverage from Bosnia. Smreka could not be simpler to
> make: Place about 2 cups (½ liter) of juniper berries in a gallon (4
> liter) jug, and fill it with water. No sugar or anything else
> required. Ferment for about a month, stirring or shaking and
> releasing pressure periodically. Truly delicious. Thanks to Luke
> Regalbuto and Maggie Levinger of Wild West Ferments for sharing that
> one with me, and thanks to all of you who shared feedback, ideas, and
> recipes for the book. I ll keep you posted.
> To stay focused on the book project, I do not have much teaching
> scheduled this coming season. But I do have some, most near home in
> Tennessee, listed below. Please help spread the word. After my book
> is finished I expect to resume periodic travels spreading
> fermentation fervor, but I am not prepared to make more commitments
> until then. However, if you are teaching fermentation classes, or
> know someone who is, please send me the details and I will gladly
> post them on my website. There is such a tremendous hunger for this
> information that the fermentation revival needs more teachers.
> Workshops can be very simple. Consider spreading your fermentation
> fervor wherever you live. As always, if you wish to no longer receive
> my occasional updates, please reply with the magic word “unsubscribe.”
> Best wishes to you.
> Sandor

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Our last market for the season!

At the market 12/19…..

Twice Sown Sauerkraut – with Cumin Seed and Coriander Seed

Chive Black Pepper kraut

Roots Culture Kimchi*- Turnip and Radish with classic kimchi spices
*hot and mild options

Curtido (taqueria style)

Beet Salad- Shredded Beets, and veg flavored with caraway and mustard

Jalapeno Pickles- Fermented Jalapenos -straight up-

Fermented Sodas:

Apple Lemon

Strawberry Rose Geranium


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Sunday December 5

This week at the market…..

Twice Sown Sauerkraut – with Cumin Seed and Coriander Seed

Roots Culture Kimchi*- Turnip and Radish with classic kimchi spices
*hot and mild options

Curtido (taqueria style)- made with rainbow carrots this week

Sauer Beets- Shredded Beets, and veg flavored with Lemon, Parsley and Garlic

Jalapeno Pickles- Fermented Jalapenos -straight up-

Fermented Sodas:

Apple Currant Cardamom

Strawberry Rose Geranium

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Join us at the Health and Wellness Fair in Point Reyes

This week we will be at the Health and Wellness Fair at Toby’s Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station on Saturday 11/19/10

Sorry due to the rainy weather, we will not be at the Sunday Civic Center market this weekend.

We will have:


-Strawberry Rose Geranium Soda
-Mulled Grape Soda
-Quinoa Rejuvelac
-Sauerkraut Juice

Fermented Veggies:

Carry Me Away Sauerkraut: Caraway, Celerey Root, Cabbage

Roots Culture Kimchi: roots and heat

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Get your fermented foods!

This week at the market:

KIMCHI is back!

-Signature Twice Sown (Cumin, Coriander)
-Inspired by Sausage (fennel seed, anise seed, red pepper flakes)

-Classic Dills (garlic, dill, cukes)
-Indian Spiced (turmeric, mustard seed, fresh ginger, cumin, hot pepper)


-Tangy Beet Salad(Beets, Apple, Cabbage, Caraway and more..)

-Curtido (Taqueria style carrots, jalapenos, onions, radish, garlic and spices)

-Roots Culture Kimchi  (Root veg. with the classic kimchi spice quartet)

-Crown Jewel (currant cardamom soda)
-Apple Lemon soda
-Quinoa Rejuvelac
-Sauerkraut Juice
-Pickle Brine

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This week in Ferments…

Quinoa Rejuvelac
Peaches ‘n’ Dreams soda (that’s the last of this year’s peaches with honey and almond extract)
Currant Cardamom Soda (the new favorite)
Golden Delicious Lemon Soda

Dill Flowerkraut
Simply Sauerkraut (plain. Lots of people asked for this over the last couple of months, but I guess we’ve got them all trained now, ’cause they only wanna buy the flavors!)
Twice Sown…our signature kraut with cumin seeds and coriander seeds.
Curtido (Taqueria-style carrots, jalapenos, radish, onion, garlic, spices….It makes a quesadilla something more)

That’s it folks!
Next week: Kim Chi! Tangy Beet Salad, and a possibility of Huckleberry Soda.

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