What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a metabolic process in which an organism converts a carbohydrate, such as starch or a sugar, into an alcohol or an acid.

For example, yeast perform fermentation to obtain energy by converting sugar into alcohol. Bacteria perform fermentation, converting carbohydrates into lactic acid. 

About Us

The Fermentarium is an independent organisation dedicated to promoting the small-scale production of “real” fermented food and drink. 

The Fermentarium began its adventure in fermentation in 2014 at the Blackhorse Workshop, Walthamstow, London. At first the emphasis was on baking sourdough bread and pizza-making in a cob oven in the yard as well as sourdough bread-making classes.

In 2014 Simon and David wanted to share their experience and knowledge of fermenting and began to run lactic fermentation classes and then were joined by Anna in March 2016 and began to add further courses such as Kombucha, Soft fermented drinks, Cultured Condiments and Dairy Ferments.

In November 2016 following redevelopment at Blackhorse Workshop we moved down the road to Gnome House, a lively community centre with lots of space. 

In 2016 we published a book Ferment, Pickle Dry - Ancient Methods, Modern Meals, which explored not only fermenting but also pickling and drying and packed with recipes to show how to combine these products in everyday meals.

In 2017 we took part in an episode of the BBC programme Trust Me I'm a Doctor, where we not only gave Michael Mosley his first taste of sauerkraut but taught him how to make it. Our kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and cottage cheese were tested against commercial varieties by Dr Paul Cotter from the Teagasc Research Centre in Cork and scientists at the University of Roehampton, who found that "There were some striking differences between the products. While the homemade foods and products made by traditional methods contained a wide array of bacteria, some of the commercial products contained barely any." (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38800977)

We have taken part in numerous community events and festivals to promote fermentation and worked in fermented product development for a number of high profile companies. 

In 2020 in response to the covid lockdowns we developed live online courses which we run via Zoom. We wanted these courses to be as interactive as our in person courses, so we run most across two sessions and have an accompanying Whatsapp group.

We can also arrange corporate events and private courses. We are always positive about collaborating with other groups so if you have something in mind do get in touch!

Simon

Simon 

Simon began his journey into fermentation when he found some old demi-johns in a shed of the Walthamstow garden flat he moved into in 2000. First came country wines made from locally-foraged blackberries, rosehips, dandelions and elderberries. This lead to full-mash beer brewing to create live bottle-conditioned ales, porters and stouts. A member of a couple of home-brew clubs he is now a certified beer judge (BJCP).

Having lived on rye breads in Germany, Russia and Poland Simon was keen to escape the tyranny of Chorleywood bread and began to bake at home. From initial experiments with fresh yeast he moved onto sourdough. He began selling at markets with the Hornbeam Bakers Collective in 2008 and was a regular stallholder at Growing Communities Farmers Market in Stoke Newington. 

In 2016 he co-wrote Ferment, Pickle, Dry - Ancient Methods, Modern Meals (Frances Lincoln).

Anna

Anna

Fermenting is one of Anna's passions and she spends a lot of time in the kitchen preparing various fermented foods and beverages. Some things she prepares only seasonally, like master tonic; some just occasionally, like scraps vinegars and fermented carrots and garlic; some every week, like fermented salsa, kombucha; some daily like milk kefir or every other day like water kefir. She is always on the lookout for new recipes and ideas. Another one of her passions is bread. Anna loves bread, no Anna loves sourdough bread. Around 5 years ago she made her first sourdough starter and since then bakes her own bread and uses her sourdough starter to bake and cook other foods as well, including flatbreads, pancakes, savory and fruit pies, dumplings, pasta, shortcrust sugar biscuits and many more.

Jeanne

Jeanne

Jeanne is a food anthropologist turned baker, pastry chef, and fermenter. When she’s not teaching kimchi classes or making croissants, you’ll most likely catch her making pasta at home or researching where to find the best cultured butter.

Hatt

Hatt

Hatt became familiar with the flavours and delights of pickled and fermented foods from an early age having German heritage from her father, and an Hungarian maternal grandfather.

She started down her own food fermentation path with sourdough bread, having tasted a friend’s home-fermented schwarzbrot (German black bread) in her late 20s. From that point onwards sourdough became an important part of her life and she went on to volunteer at, and then work for, the Better Health Bakery in Hackney, a commercial sourdough bakery and mental health project. 

Inspired by her father's passion for preserving pickled onions, Hatt’s first forays into vegetable preservation quickly developed into a love of lactic fermentation of vegetables. This too has become an important part of her life and she continues her culinary fermentation experiments at home and at work, which complement her love of food and cooking.

Currently Hatt is enjoying a return to ceramics and is in the process of designing and making fermentation crocks.

David

David

David Lopez was born and raised in Madrid. He moved to London at the age of 31 and only then discovered he had a passion for gardening, baking and all things self sufficient.
He swapped his former career as an IT technician for gardening and started getting involved with like-minded community groups. David ferments, runs courses and bakes in the cob oven.