12 December 2010

Here are a few updates, to let you know what's happening and the details of our Christmas/New Year operating hours.

Our normal days of operating fall on public holidays and we know many of you go away as well, so FIG will be closed on Mondays 27th December and 3rd January. We shall be back to normal on Monday 10th January. If you will be wanting a FIG box or boxes on the 10th, please pay for them on the 20th December, or send an email no later than 3rd January, as we begin ordering from the farmers up to a week prior, remember!

Bulk orders over Christmas, New Year
We will be taking orders for bulk fruits on 13th December for collection on 20th December, and the next one will be 10th January, for collection 17th Jan.

FIG has another branch opening, at Wyong!
Ourimbah is continuing on as usual on Mondays and Wyong will operate on Tuesday afternoons, as identical to the Ourimbah operations as humanly possible!


An open day will be held at the Wyong Neighbourhood Centre from 3-5pm on Tuesday 14th December. On that day we will have some sample boxes and produce for those new to FIG and shall be taking orders for the first day of operation on Tuesday, 11th January. The address is Room 5, Old Primary School, Cnr Rankin Court and Alison Road, Wyong (up the hill from Wyong Village Central). We're pretty excited about this and thank Colette for getting this up and running. Our major farmer and super supporter, Michael Champion, hopes to pop his head in for a while as well this Tuesday.

Please forward the details along to anyone you know in the northern part of the coast who may be interested. If there are some of you coming to Ourimbah every week who would find Tuesdays at Wyong more convenient, please let us know either by email or in person at the co-op and if you would like to begin collecting FIG boxes on the 11th January.

Aquaponics Workshop, January
Tank to Table Aquaponics (FIG member) is holding a workshop on Sat 15th Jan and Sun 16th Jan. Here is a link to the workshop information. Please support our members and their businesses where you can, particularly those who, like Candy and others, endeavour to build a business promoting sustainable practises and/or healthy lifestyles, and if you are a FIG member, don't forget to...

... please advise all relevant details of your service or business if you would like it listed in an online member's directory. The Food Integrity Group reserves the right to refuse, edit or modify any listing or listing applications. Family friendly, please!

See you at the co-op!

06 December 2010

Fermenting Folk

A friend passed to me her copy of ‘Wild Fermentation’ by Sandor Katz. I’m a bit of a Sandor Katz groupie now! I think he is amazing; inspiring, talented, humorous, friendly and generous. His style of writing is down to Earth and has such a casual tone to it, you feel like you are sitting there having a conversation with him. A friend who lives in Tennessee recently attended a workshop where Sandor presented! She said it was wonderful and had a different energy to it to see him present live than just to read his words in a book. How very blessed she is to live so close to this wild food crafter. I ordered Sandor’s book ‘The revolution will not be microwaved’ and it arrived yesterday. With sorrel teaming over in our garden, I am keen to look up the ‘shav’ (cold sorrel soup) recipe in this book.
Once again, our benches have been taken over by crocks fermenting every type of vegetable, fruit juice, nuts and seeds. We love the flavours of these ferments and the amazing benefits such food offer to our bodies. At the moment we have honey mead bubbling away, a ‘kitchen sink kraut’ just gone down, and sour beets half way through their ferment. Recently we have bottled a Latin American Kraut which is being well received by all mouths it passes through, pickled some vine leaves from our grape vine and made stuffed vine leaves w. mint cashew aioli (we used cooked brown rice as opposed to making the ‘raw rice’ mostly because I had cooked rice on hand and no cauli or parsnip!), and our very first and yummy Kimchi. But fermenting is also a game of ‘you win some - you loose some. Yesterday I was mortified to realise I’d lost a batch of sour pickles. My first ever pickles. I was so excited. I'm a bit of a pickle fan and was SO looking forward to my own batch. I used a pasta bowl (which I now realise was too shallow) on top of the cucs in the crock and put two 1.25kg weights off some old dumb bells in the top. They are a bit rusty - but the plan is they don't touch the brine, they just sit dry in the bowl weighting the produce down. I opened my crock yesterday to check how the sour pickles were going and you can imagine my disappointment when I found the brine had expanded and the weights were now submerged in brine - GROSS! There was a rusty brown tinge to the brine. I felt like crying :( The chickens enjoyed the cucs and I have learnt from my novice mistake. Also, we tried to make an apple cider w. store bought apple juice, preservative free, organic etc - but it was on the shelf, so obviously has been heat treated or had some kind of treatment to allow it to be without refrigeration. So this cider just turned sour instead of fermenting. We will be retrying this with fresh squeezed apple juice from our FIG juicing apples.

But here’s the reality check. In decades gone by, when families lived with several generations on one property - they lived and worked in communities that supported each other. Nanna Josie was the sourdough queen, Aunt Bessie was always good with the fermented vegetables and Uncle Ted was the one who had his Great-Great-Great grandfathers recipe for creating the sweetest mead you’ve ever tasted. Then it all came together at meal time. No one person was in their kitchen from sunrise to sunset and even longer hours still; grinding grain, fermenting flours, tending sourdough cultures, fermenting vegetables, checking miso crocks, stirring bubbling meads, culturing dairy, pressing vinegar’s and straining curds for cheese making. It takes a community to SHARE what they are doing for the health of all. So whilst I’m not suggesting we all deck ourselves out in colonial garments, move to a property where we all reside and each takes their own role in this community of conscious living. I do have a vision and a dream... "I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr.
I wonder if there are any other folk out there who would like to come together with other ‘fermenting folk’. Not formally - just as a casual group of friends, no different to the informal group of mothers that meet once a week at the park and take a walk or the parents that sit together and chat at squad group whilst their children swim back and forth. My idea is that we could come together and share. Share ideas, experiences, successes and failures - but most importantly also ferments. My basic idea is that we could meet once a month at a nice space in nature. Have a picnic, whether a shared pot luck or each bring their own food. We would each bring (for example) 5 containers of our latest ferment. It would be placed on a sharing table and each person takes home 5 containers of various other ferments from other folk. We could all be in touch via email so as if Betty put down a batch of kraut, she could email us all and let us know she planned to bring that to the next gathering so that we didn’t all arrive with 5 containers of kraut. Whilst kraut is good, that’s ALOT of kraut! The idea is we are forming a community of folk where we share amongst ourselves and no one person is trying to ferment a zillion different recipes in the average home kitchen with the average modern day time.

Some folk may have different fermentation books or guides and that is fine. But if you are looking to purchase an affordable, easy to read, inspiring and recipe filled fermenting book, I would recommend Wild Fermentation. It is a great all rounder book. Betterworld books is great place to purchase the book. US$16.50 and US$3.97 shipping worldwide. BWB also has a really great business philosophy with funding literacy programs in third world countries as well as saving millions of books from landfill. I also find that most often their books are much cheaper (even new books) than elsewhere.
If you are interested in coming together in this informal group to share ferments and experiences, then please email fermentingfolk (at) gmail.com (without the spaces and with an @ symbol replacing (at) in the address). As this group is stemming out of a community of folk mindful of conscious eating, it would be asked that all food used in the ferments be organic - not necessarily certified - but definitely organic in nature; whether that be store bought, FIG supplied, home grown or community garden harvested etc.