That big orange book you see peeking out in the cookbook section at Church Street Coffee & Books? It’s called The Art of Fermentation, and we have it thanks to Charlie, who loves to talk about all things healthy and local, from goat farming to beekeeping to mushroom hunting to, yes, making DIY sauerkraut in the comfort of home. “It’s fascinating to me,” Charlie says when asked about his love for this cookbook. “It’s kind of an intersection between health and taste, and it’s something people don’t do very often. Also it saves me a lot of money.”
When asked what he’s made out of the cookbook, Charlie lists sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir and cheese. “Oh, and a sweet potato soft drink for fall — I really need to make that one again. And I want to read more about fermented coffee but I haven’t had a chance to do it yet.”
“I’m a big nutrition guy,” says Charlie (ask any of us who’ve worked with him and we can back him up on that). “Fermentation improves digestion. It’s pre-digestion, in a way. There are more bacteria in our stomachs than we have human cells — a lot of people are surprised by that. Every culture has some kind of fermented food.”
The big orange book is a good resource for beginners (getting started with sauerkraut or yogurt is pretty easy and clearly outlined in the book), but this cookbook is also packed with details on more obscure facts (“You know how kombucha has a mother?” Charlie says. “Some people fry that up and eat it like a cookie.”) and lots of details for the serious fermenter. “It’s the go-to resource for all fermentation knowledge,” Charlie says. The Art of Fermentation makes a great gift for anyone interested in clean eating, making food at home from scratch, being a bit healthier — or just being more adventurous in the kitchen. Come by Church Street to get us to gift wrap a copy for you (it’s free!) and compare recipes with Charlie while you’re here.
Charlie Higginbotham is a bookseller and barista at Church Street Coffee & Books, a local bookstore and coffee shop in Birmingham, Alabama.