What is fermentation
What do wine, cheese, pickles, and beer have in common? They are all a product of fermentation.
It’s a process in which microbes, such as bacteria and yeast, convert sugars to alcohol or organic acids. The process has been used for centuries to preserve food without refrigeration.
The process of fermentation is what makes a number of the foods that we eat, like cheese and yogurt (and beer!), so delicious. Fermentation is also important for making vinegar, which can be used as an acidifying agent in many recipes.
Fermentation in the history of mankind
Humanity used fermentation almost during its entire existence. It was a natural process of preservation, which allowed people to store food for longer periods.
The first person who used fermentation is believed to be the Chinese emperor Shennong (3000 BC). He discovered that rice and wheat would ferment when left in water near decomposing leaves or straw. The discovery led him not only to inventing beer but also other food like soy sauce and vinegar.
The fermentation process was used throughout history by many different cultures, who discovered how to turn grapes into wine or convert milk into cheese. It’s believed that the first alcoholic drink in Europe is kvas (a fermented grain porridge) from ancient Slavs which they consumed as early as 2000 BC.
Since the discovery of pasteurization process and refrigerators the role of fermentation started to diminish. With the introduction of mass production, it was much easier to use a different, standard way of preserving food.
But with the revival of interest in organic and locally grown foods people have started fermenting again. It’s not only for economic reasons but also because we’ve come to realize that there are many health benefits associated with live food and fermented products like kombucha, apple cider vinegar or kefir.
Benefits of Fermentation
The fermentation process is believed to produce some good bacteria while reducing the bad ones (like salmonella). These good bacteria can be found in yogurt, sauerkraut, miso and other similar foods. They create lactic acid which improves digestion and are generally associated with improving the immunity. Human organism used fermented products for quite a large period of the existence of mankind. People can easily recognize fermented products containing live cultures when comparing them to the same product created by the industry.
A personal story about the passion for fermented foods
This is how we arrived to the idea to produce our own fermented products. Several years ago, cider was not available in Bulgaria, while there was abundance of apples everywhere. Cider is sold together with beer in all pubs in the UK, but it was not possible to find it in Bulgaria – in stores, restaurants, or pubs. With some research it turned out that the process is not that complicated if there is good quality fruit.
The start with cider 5 years ago opened the door to experimenting with other fermented products – kombucha and kvas, kefir, bread, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, bread, wine, beer, hot sauces and мany more that followed. There are many fermented products to try with their specific but always interesting and satisfying taste coming from all parts of the world.
Introducing the festival of fermented products
Having the first cider available we started sharing it with friends and this is how the first unofficial festival of the fermented products was born. This festival had very few participants and relatively small number of fermented products – homemade beer, cider and wine were tested one evening in Borovitza winery with their wines, which are created using the traditional methods and no conservation applied.
Year after year the event expanded, more participants joined and shared their fermented products during events at Borovitza winery with hundreds of visitors at the festival. The most recent event was organized in August 2020. More wineries from the region participated and demonstrated their excellent wines joined by local producers of cheese, craft beer from Chiprovtzi, slow-fermented bread with hot sauces and homemade mustard. The festival turned out to a whole day event with great atmosphere and a lot of fun. This is how Fermentfestbg was born.
2021 edition of the festival will include even more fermented products demonstrated by their producers. In addition to the ready-made products, we wanted to add some presentations and workshops teaching people how to prepare their own fermented foods. The event is meant to be the place where people can come together and share their love for fermented products of all kinds, discussing the process, benefits, and different flavors of fermented products.
By being a part of this festival, we encourage you not only to try different foods but also learn how they are made, participate in workshops, or just enjoy some good music with your friends!
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