So I have Rebecca's wonderful Kaitaia sourdough starter. Now I'm going to do a similar swap with Ruth in Westport. (Ruth's sourdough starter is twelve years old, and quite well travelled.)
Unfortunately all I can offer Rebecca and Ruth at the moment is an IOU, since I washed my last starter down the sink some time ago in a brain-dead moment. The pressure will be on for me to try and get a new one going this summer that will make a worthy exchange!
I love the ways that live cultures connect people. Sourdough, kefir, yoghurts, kombucha ... You can share them with friends so easily. If you keep them going, you always have some to give away.
And I love the way they can span time and space. Swaps by post link people across geographical space; and the many live ferments that are looked after within families and passed down through generations link people through time.
(Although what happened to our kombucha? I have a sneaking suspicion my mother-in-law threw it out while kindly but zealously cleaning out our fridge for us ...)
There's also another quite different way that fermented foods bring people together. A lot of fermentation processes are about preserving food (cheese, sauerkraut, miso, to name a few). Preserving is often done in bulk, and so it makes good sense to get a bit of a working bee going when you're doing it.
Apparently in some parts of the States they have 'sauerkraut parties' - where everyone comes along bearing cabbages and other veges, which are then pooled. Everyone works on the chopping and brining together, and then leaves with their share of the finished jars of sauerkraut.
It sounds fun. Anyone interested in doing this sometime this summer?
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