Last week we talked a little bit about the tiniest inhabitants of our farms – the invertebrates, fungi, and bacteria that decompose plant and animal matter into the nutrients plants need to survive, which in turn become the nutrients we need to survive. But fungi and bacteria aren’t just breaking down the food in our compost, they are making the food in our kitchens and factories!
Like a lot of people, I took the ample time I’ve had in my home over the last few months to make a sourdough starter, and it’s been a wild ride figuring out how to develop and care for my own little colony of bacteria and yeasts (which are a type of fungus) so I can keep them happy and the use them to make some really delicious bread (and pancakes and crackers and biscuits and crumpets and…). Let’s just say, there’s been a lot of baking, and almost all of it has relied on microorganisms to happen.
And it’s not just breads. Fungi and bacteria are essential to making yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, soy sauce, chocolate, kombucha, tempeh, salami, and so much more. Humans have been employing the skills of bacteria and fungi to help us preserve foods for at least 13,000 years! So let’s raise a toast (fermented or not), to these marvelous microbes!
Here are five things to make to help you get to know our food microorganisms better.
Make it Rise
Make it Cultured
Make it for Science
Make it Fermented