Featured Recipes

What is A Recipe?

Imagine a life of natural limitations where grocery lists are given to those who can catch its fleeting moments rather than by just showing up to the store. The collection of ingredients come together with a lot less control, kinda tossing the rigidity of a recipe out into the pond. How much honey do I add? “As much as the year was plentiful." That was the first time I encountered this idea. I think it was for a fermented beverage from a medieval European cookbook, really illuminating the idea that a recipe was more so the result rather than the beginning.

Such looseness leaves firmness only in the process of how it’s made as the separating factor of what makes for instance, a scone a scone and not a muffin. One of the earliest cookbooks, the Kitah al-Tabikh, a medieval Arab manuscript offers recipes in just that manner, when it comes to the ingredients the author proposes things like "add as much salt as is necessary," and maybe "a handful" of this and that. (And despite leaving out any specific details, the author continuously reinforces that each and every ingredient be "thrown".)

To some people who read that, as well as read Ferment Pittsburgh’s process-centered non-recipes may feel lost especially in these days where things seem to get ever-the-more specific. Well here's an old recipe for garlic soup, free from constricting lists and measurements that will really throw you for a loop:

“And the bread, does it get dry?”

“Hard as a stone to kill a dog. Too hard to eat without grinding teeth. But at night if there is no cooked food one boils water with a little garlic and dips in the bread. That is good.”

There’s no need to describe adding salt or oil because that is something we learned from our Grandmothers already a long time ago.

It’s a wonder to step back and see every recipe we use today with roots reaching through history as a collaborative invention between human and nature. When we eat noodles who's thinking about how this is an incredible technique that helped keep humans alive through the ages? But in that context the process behind every meal unravels its pea tendrils into the blossoming of a sort of ancient wisdom handed down from the beginning of time.

As the full swoop of our local growing season buzzes and flutters in, the hard work of making recipes lies before us in the righteous task of preserving the harvest, aka storing up ingredients. The significance of such work is to gather the pieces that will in time inform the recipes so those special meals served with your extraordinary extra effort become the stories of your adventures throughout the year and the continuation of the epic story of humans throughout time- to feed those at your dinner table something truly made from the ground up, and not the other way around.

Happy Fermenting!

Giant Pumpkin Contest

Would anyone like a Giant Pumpkin Seedling? This here lil fella comes from an Atlantic Giant seed from the Pennsylvania Giant Pumpkin Growers Association and has genetics for over 1000 pounds.

Send your best fermentation or food related joke to and which ever produces the best chuckle can take this monster home (plants will need picked up by winners in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh). Keep in mind though that a generous amount of space is necessary or she will gobble up your yard.

Two winners. Send em over!

Share with us how you are fermenting with the seasons at
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