Sandor Katz on “The Art of Fermentation”

Homemade sauerkraut. Photo by Chiot’s Run via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

On the heels of her conversation last week with Tom Philpott, Fresh Air this week features another food-related interview from Terry Gross. Guest Sandor Katz, author of the new book The Art of Fermentation, talks about the long history and near ubiquity of fermented foods around the world. From sauerkraut to Kosher dill pickles to yogurt and more, Katz describes the magical science of lactic acid bacteria:

What’s probiotic about these foods is that the lactic acid in them can help to replenish and diversify the populations in our gut, which due to a number of factors in our contemporary lives — including antibiotic drugs, antibacterial cleansing products, chlorine in water — are subjected to more or less constant attack….

Bacteria in our gut enable us to live. We could not survive without bacteria. … They allow us to digest food, to assimilate the nutrients in our food; and they play a huge role, just beginning to be understood, in our immune functioning and in many other processes in our bodies. All life has evolved from bacteria and no other form of life has lived without bacteria.

I enjoyed the 20 minutes so much that I was bummed to learn that I had to wait for part two of their conversation, though happily it aired on June 19. Check out part one and part two of the Fresh Air interview, visit Katz’s website, and read an excerpt of the book.

If you find yourself wanting to pick up a copy of Katz’s book by the end of the interview, know that you aren’t alone: according to Publishers Weekly, in one day the book went from #481 to #34 at Amazon on the heels of his first appearance on Fresh Air.

Finally, for a quick demonstration of some of the sauerkraut-making process that Katz describes, check out the video below.


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