Putting the “Ferment” In Great Fermentations

Putting the “Ferment” In Great Fermentations


By Writing Community Member Charlie Sasse 

In Indianapolis there are a few options for those that brew their own beer and/or make their own wine to purchase materials and supplies.  Most of the stores are relatively new but Great Fermentations has been around for twenty years, and while they are well known for their homebrewing and winemaking supplies they also provide several classes on different subject matters including beer, wine, mead, bee keeping, and kombucha tea.  They work with several local vendors in order to offer these classes to the public at a reasonable price.

When Indiana on Tap requested I attend a class and write about it I had many options to choose from.  I could have chosen to attend and write about a beginning brewing or even a wine making class and it would have made sense, but I don’t always like what makes sense.  The Veggie Fermenting Demo and Tasting Class caught my eye due to my love of sauerkraut and all things pickled.  As I researched the class I saw that Fermenti Artisan owner Joshua Henson was the instructor.  I had seen the Fermenti Artisan booth in the City Market on multiple occasions but never stopped in to make a purchase.  This was my chance to learn more about fermented vegetables and the offerings that Henson has at his booth downtown.

There is quite a bit of information to absorb in this two hour class, but Joshua’s demeanor and ability to break down the information for even a simple person like myself makes the class entertaining.  There are terms thrown around like zymology, lactic acid, and probiotics that Joshua explains and defines while preparing wild fermented vegetables.  I also learned that there is an average of three to six pounds of bacteria and yeast in the human body at any given time.  This information is given to help explain the health benefits of eating fermented vegetables.  Another fun fact: Romans ate fermented food when they were attempting to take over the world to help prevent parasites from living in their bodies.  I also learned that there are sloughs of B and C vitamins occurring in a jar of fermented vegetables.  This stuff really is good for you on many different levels.

Joshua took us through the fermentation process step by step and fed us through most of the class.  I had a root veggie fermentation and it may have been the first time I have ever wanted a second helping of beets!  There were also fermented cheeses and chorizo from Smoking Goose to accompany the veggies.  There was one vegetable I found I still do not care for even if it has been fermented and the culprit was celery.  I have tried celery a hundred different ways and the only time I can eat it is if it is covered in ranch dressing or peanut butter.  The rest of the different flavors and textures were amazing and I wished I could have eaten more, so I went to Fermenti Artisan the following Monday and picked up a couple of jars.  I have become a fan of fermented veggies and plan to take the class again, but this time I want to take it so that I can learn how to ferment vegetables and not for an article.

Great Fermentations sells all of the items that one would need to ferment on their own including a starter culture kit from Caldwell’s that Fermenti Artisan uses for their fermented offerings.  Living on the west side it is convenient to be able to look at the calendar on Great Fermentations website and be able to locate different classes at both store locations.  I am glad that I decided to take the fermenting class and I look forward to attending my next class at the Avon location.  Now I just have to decide what topic to take a class on.

  • Jason
    Posted at 05:40h, 19 August Reply

    Great article Charlie. It never occurred to me that these places offer classes. I’m signing up as soon as my kids leave me alone for a minute!

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