Alex Lewin is a microbe evangelist. Ask him a simple question, such as "Why did you write a cookbook on fermentation" and he's off, with barely a break to sip his coffee. Sixty minutes later, his passion has infected you, he's dropped about five fermentation puns and jokes in the conversation, and you're off to the farmers' market to pick up some cabbage for sauerkraut. At least that's what happened to me a few weeks ago when we met up to talk kombucha, kraut, and kimchi.
Lewin, a part-time Boston resident, recently published Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Foods with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen through Quarry Books, a local publisher in Beverly. The book recently hit the Amazon bestseller list and deservedly so. It's got gorgeous photos, a hip design, and is educational yet fun to read. Step-by-step photos guide you along as Lewin takes you through a journey of fermented foods and the various microbes that transform tea to kombucha and milk to kefir.
Why fermented foods?
Fermented foods are easy to make, often needing only salt to get the process going. They are healthy-the food is generally raw, thus enzymes and nutrients are intact and not destroyed by heat, probiotic bacteria are created by fermentation, and new vitamins are often created by fermentation. It's easy-Lewin makes kefir because you can make it at room temperature, as opposed to yogurt, which must be kept at 105 degrees. "From a practical point of view, kefir is just much easier to make," says Lewin. For those with stomach problems, fermented foods are usually easier to digest.
Lewin, a software engineer and math major from Harvard, became interested in nutrition when his father became sick and passed away at a young age. Lewin did not want to suffer the same fate, and enrolled in the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to learn more about cooking and health. As he became more interested in the link between sustainability and local foods, he joined the board of the Boston Public Market Association.
Lewin has taught fermentation classes around the Boston area for years, so writing a cookbook was a natural next step. So grab the book, hit the farmers' market, and start playing with your food.
Alex's blog, Feed Me Like You Mean It: http://feedmelikeyoumeanit.blogspot.com/
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