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Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon & Giveaway

Today I’m reviewing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon of GNOWFGLINS.

I myself have become quite an enthusiast for fermented foods over the last few years with the observance that it has made amazing changes to my own and my family’s health. Since May of 2011 I have been on the GAPS diet and along with other nutrient-dense foods, fermented foods I’ve regularly consumed have made a profound difference in my health.

Wardeh’s site has been one of my favorites for years, and she was kind enough to send me a copy of this great guide for learning how to prepare these healthful foods, and I was delighted to find such a vast number of great recipes in this book.

I’ve been fermenting dairy foods for almost 7 years, and I started culturing vegetables about 3 years ago, so I’m very excited to try some of the interesting recipes out in this wonderful book.

If you have been wanting to try your hand at fermented foods but have been intimidated, this easy-to-follow guide  will change your mind!

Why are fermented foods so important?

For thousands upon thousands of years, fermentation was a time-honored method of preserving foods and beverages which would otherwise spoil and have to be discarded.

Not only are these foods convenient due to their long-term storage possibilities and easy to make at home, they confer numerous beneficial health properties.  People who consumed these naturally preserved foods knew that a small amount with each meal was an effective aid to digestive function and support for immunity.

Fermentation allows enzymatic activity and friendly bacteria to proliferate and “pre-digest” the food, making it easier to obtain and make use of nutrients found in the food. Depending on what you ferment, your body will be more fully able to digest Vitamins A, B, and C, and various minerals. Plants, grains, legumes, and other foods contain some amount of phytic acid (an anti-nutrient), and fermentation neutralizes these substances and renders the foods easier for the body to absorb.

As with many practices, traditions, and artistic endeavors in the modern age, fermentation of food went by the wayside with the coming of the Industrial Age. Since fermentation has many variables and is a true slow food, it became more convenient and cost-effective for leaders in the food industry to use vinegar with foods for preservation in the activity of mass production. Unfortunately, the health benefits of real fermented foods were lost for a period of time.

Fermentation revival

Since I started blogging 6 years ago, I’ve witnessed a remarkable devotion to the practices of preparing traditional foods on many nutrition, health, and recipes blogs that are part of the sustainable and real food communities. Wardeh has been fermenting foods for a number of years and shares her amazing knowledge and experience in this well-written book.

She also provides some interesting history and background to the hows and whys of fermented foods. You’ll find a wealth of recipes for making a full gamut of cultured foods: vegetables, fruits, condiments such as mayo, salsa, and dips, basic brine and whey, beans, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, grains, cheese, meats, and fish.

With permission, I am featuring one of the recipes from the book, Beet-Carrot Kvass. Kvass is a traditional “tonic” beverage used for detoxification and health maintenance.

These drinks are sour and salty, and can take some getting used to. They can be made quickly with a ferment time of about 2 days, and  are a great boost for the immune system and help keep digestion running smoothly – in particular, the liver cleansing qualities of kvass are quite magical.

Beet-Carrot Kvass













Yield: 1 quart

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ferment time: 2 days

Ferment type: Lacto

  • 1 large carrot, ends trimmed and coarsley chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 medium (about 3″ to 4″ diameter beetroot, peeled and chopped into 3/4″ – to 1″ wide pieces
  • 1 1/2 TB. plus 1 scant TB. sea salt
  •  1/4 cup Basic Whey (recipe from Chapter 4)
  • Water
  1. Put carrots, beets, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and whey in a half-gallon jar or other fermenting container. Add water to fill, leaving 1″ space at top. Cover tightly with a lid or airlock. Let ferment at room temperature for 2 days.
  2. Leaving carrots and beets behind, pour all but about 10 percent (does not have to be exact) of liquid into a wide-mouth quart jar. Cover the quart jar and transfer to the refrigerator. This is the first batch. It keeps many weeks.
  3. To make a second batch, add scant 1 tablespoonsalt to the half-gallon container that contains carrots and beets. Add water to fill, leaving 1″ space at top. Cover tightly with lid or airlock. Let ferment at room temperature for 2 days.
  4. Pour all liquid into a wide-mouth quart jar. Cover the jar and transfer to the refrigerator. This is the second batch. It keeps many weeks.
  5. Discard or compost carrot and beet pieces.

Variation: The second batch will be weaker than the first, and it may be possible to get a third (even weaker) batch as well. To do so, pour off all the kvass in Step 4, and repeat Steps 3 and 4 to make the third batch. For future batches with fresh carrots and beets, feel free to use finished kvass instead of whey in Step 1.

I am honored to have this wonderful book Wardeh produced with loving and careful detail in my own kitchen library as a reference for all things fermented. It would make an excellent addition to anyone’s kitchen who possesses a love and appreciation for real food.

This book would make a fantastic holiday gift this season, something that your loved one can use for the rest of his or her life as a way to maintain good health. What better gift is there? 

Wardeh is a blogger, home schooling mother of 3, and lives with her family in Southwest Oregon.  She teaches online classes focuses on the basics of traditional cooking, cultured dairy, sourdough, lacto-fermenting and cheesemaking.


Be sure to listen to the weekly podcast with special guests talking about food and health Know Your Food With Wardee

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Want to win a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods?

Giveaway rules:

The giveaway starts today and ends on Tuesday, December 18th at 11:59 p.m., MST.
Here are all the different ways to enter:

  1. Click the link below and leave me comment telling me you did.

For extra entries, do the following and leave comments:

  1. Subscribe to my blog. Use the Feedburner subscribe feature on the main page.
  2. Like  on GNOWFGLINS on Facebook (blog posts on Facebook about giveaways aren’t permitted by FB rules). You’ll receive extra entries for “liking” only.
  3. Sign up for the GNOWFGLINS Newsletter.
  4. Follow Wardee on Twitter (GNOWFGLINS) and Tweet about the giveaway.
  5. Follow Agriculture Society on Twitter.
  6. Like Agriculture Society on Facebook (again, blog post about giveaways on FB are not permitted). Extra entries are given for “liking” only.
  7. Please Stumble my page or any other articles you want to share!

The contest is open to anyone in the U.S., but not outside. The winner has 24 hours to e-mail me about the prize. If I don’t hear from the winner, I’ll pick someone else with

Best of luck to everyone entering. I will announce the winner here on Wednesday, December 19th.

Photo credit: Wardeh Harmon

47 replies on “Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon & Giveaway”

Wooooo! I have the brewing kombucha down, let’s move on to some other things…(really want to widen my scope)

I’m interested in learning more about fermented foods…this book would be perfect for me!

I like Ag Soc on FB! :o) I have been wishing for this wonderful book since before it was even released. ; )

Like the page, signed up for newsletter and looking forward to learning more about fermented foods. I have some ketchup going for Xmas presents as we speak!

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