Is Fermentation Education The New Trend?
By now you’ve probably already heard that fermented foods and beverages are so in right now. Most of us now know about kombucha and kimchi, and why fermented foods are great for the mind, body, and soul. It’s now trendier than ever to brew and ferment at home. Some of the most successful brewers and fermenters, making nationally distributed products, started out in their kitchen or garage. But how did they learn? Some were self-taught, while others have taken their education to the next level and received degrees in things like craft beer brewing and fermentation science.
In the Bay Area and beyond, it’s pretty common for most schools to offer fermentation education in the form of wine making, so that’s nothing new. But as of late, I’ve noticed that the realm of fermentation education is expanding.
In 2014, Sonoma State University added a craft beer certification to their catalog, which is no surprise considering that Sonoma County has some of the best craft breweries in the country.
New Hampshire has seen commercial brewing and fermentation skyrocket and felt that it was important to provide students with opportunity to learn the industry on a professional level. Now, New Hampshire City College is offering a brewing and fermentation certification within their culinary and hospitality program.
Appalachian State University in North Carolina and Colorado State both offer fermentation science programs. These programs cover it all from beer, wine, spirits and cider, to pickling, bread fermenting and the chemical processes behind food preservation as a whole.
But you don’t have to go to a university to learn this stuff. Because of the rise in fermentation popularity, groups are forming all over the US, offering classes to their cities. Here in Sonoma County, places like Beer Belly Fermentation Supply offer classes to the public and invite local brewmasters to come teach their neighbors how to DIY. You can also attend Vital Alchemy in Sebastopol, with our local fermentation expert, Jennifer Harris. Watch Episode 1 of Spoiled To Perfection to learn more about Harris.
In Boston, Massachusetts, a collective of fermenting enthusiasts have formed a group called “Boston Ferments.” They organize fermentation related projects, courses and festivals, all attended by lovers of real food who are interested in preservation and healthy living. Here is Sonoma County, we have the annual Farm To Fermentation Festival, which gets bigger and bigger each year.
So why get educated? There are plenty of reasons. I for one have noticed a major change in my lifestyle since I started learning how to ferment. My digestion has improved, as well as my mood. I eat healthier because my house is filled with fresh veggies, just waiting to get thrown into my next fermentation project. I’ve almost completely cut sugary drinks out of my diet and replaced it with gut-healthy beverages like kombucha and kefir soda.
You might also be really passionate about wine or craft beer. Getting a degree is something you truly love is never a bad thing. Or maybe you’re a geek and love the science aspect of food and beverage preservation. According to Glass Door, a fermentation scientist in California can make from 75k to 100k a year! And there are plenty of job openings in that field all over the Bay Area.
Regardless of what motivates you, there is opportunity to learn something new about fermentation all over the country. Take a class, sign up for school, watch a YouTube video and try stuff at home. Fermentation might be a trend now, but I’m pretty sure it’s here to stay.