Module 5 of The Vegetarian Cooking School was the reason I signed up to complete this course. There are 9 modules and you can’t do any of the others unless you’ve done Module 1 – the basics. So, I’ve completed the other modules waiting for this one. All of the modules have been amazing. Full of incredible information, lots of learning of new skills and techniques and full of information that has helped me develop as a chef. But it has been Module 5 that has had me waiting.
And it didn’t disappoint.
Module 5 encompasses all things fermented.
It’s a two day module with sections on sauerkraut, sourdough, tempeh, sprouting and kombucha. According to the prospectus:
The benefits of fermenting, sprouting and sourdough are becoming more and more popular. In this module leading specialists in the field of different fermentation and sprouting processes will guide us through this unit and we will create a range of different recipes using these processes.
First of all, we started the first day making sauerkraut with Anna from Alive Foods. We also made Kim Chi and learnt the techniques to create this amazing gut food. The process is much easier than I thought it would be although the flavours of my sauerkraut don’t quite match Anna’s. More practice needed by me.
There’s one thing that you should probably know about me. I love bread. I love carbs, but bread in particular is probably one of my favourite foods. And so the afternoon of the first day was an absolute treat for me. We went to a bakery to make sourdough bread.
And not just any bakery. Simon from Heart Breads Byron Bay works outside. Yep, he has two wood fired ovens outside where he makes dozens of loaves at a time. When we arrived we were treated to some delicious bread and olives. Even those amongst us who are sensitive to gluten were able to have a slice, due to the ingredients and the way the bread is prepared.
We had a go at making our own bread. Simon got the bread ready for us to bake in the wood fired oven, so there was only half of the process that we had to do. But then we also rolled and kneaded and prepared our own to take home and bake in our own oven.
Whilst mine did not taste anywhere near as good as Simon’s I still enjoyed my bread. I have saved some of the sourdough culture and will attempt more bread making. This bread is made without yeast, therefore doesn’t cause digestive and gut issues that many others breads cause. And my mouth is watering right now thinking about the taste.
Day 2 started at Byron Bay Tempeh with Sarah. Sarah decided to make tempeh one day and decided not to use soy.
If you know anything about tempeh you will know that it is difficult to make, and to make it without soy just makes it even harder.
We made a mock tempeh and went though the process in fast forward mode to see the steps. It takes much longer than the time we had. There is a certain amount of incubation. In the early days Sarah and her partner use to wake during the night to make sure the tempeh was incubating properly, looking after it just like a baby. The only tempeh I have ever purchased is Byron Bay tempeh and after seeing the passion of Sarah, I doubt I’d ever purchase another brand.
The afternoon of day 2 started with sprouting. And for this we were lucky enough to be taught by Ruth from Sprout Lovers. Ruth has been sprouting for many years. Sprouts are a great source of protein. Sprouting benefits your health by providing essential nutrients and aiding digestion. They are an alkalising food alive with anti-oxidants.
Most seeds need to be soaked prior to sprouting, but it is a fairly easy process. Whilst it takes a couple of days, there is not much hands-on time. Just a couple of rinses and drains each day for 2 to 3 days.
The final part of the module was kombucha making. Sue from Forrest Farms has been making kombucha since the 1970s. Her daughter, Lilli, came and shared stories of the ‘mushroom’ under the kitchen table that she would invite her friends around to touch and taught us how to make kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that provides all sorts of health benefits from liver detoxification to improved digestion.
Not only did we make kombucha, we also made fire water (which is still fermenting), Jamu and turmeric paste. I have previously made turmeric paste but this was the first time I have made any of the other drinks.
I will be posting recipes that have been inspired by my weekend of fermentation over the next couple of months. I really wanted to share some of the photos I took of the weekend, and also share the amazing artisans that are right in our backyard. It is so inspiring to meet with people who are creating healthy products using local, organic ingredients.
If you ever get the chance to visit Mullumbimby markets, or Byron markets or Bungalow markets then you’ll find these people and their amazing products. My tip is go hungry and leave full.
Module 1 of The Vegetarian Cooking School is the Foundation module. Check it out here.
Module 2 of The Vegetarian Cooking School focused on raw food. You can read about it here.
Module 3 of The Vegetarian Cooking School was all about Ayurveda. You can read about it here as well as get the recipe for a delicious lemon rice.