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Amanda Feifer of Phickle Talks Fermentation
Food

Amanda Feifer of Phickle Talks Fermentation

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 10.04.07 AMRecently, I sat down with the amazing Amanda Feifer, blogger and creator of Phickle.

Phickle is an instructional blog about fermented dishes. Many of the recipes, tips, and information focuses not only on fermented vegetables; but other ferments including coffee, cheese, beer, bread, Sauerkraut, traditional pickles, kimchi, milk/water kefir, kombucha, and an abundance more.

The Road to Phickle

Amanda first discovered fermentation after she developed a digestive issue. A friend recommended that she drink kefir, which helped immediately. Amanda began a hobby to ferment foods, starting simple and soon discovering that many of her favorite foods were ferments (i.e. yogurt and sourdough bread).

Amanda officially started Phickle in January 2012Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 5.57.35 PM.

In the very beginning it was more of a personal hobby. I didn’t self-promote. People weren’t talking about fermentation; it wasn’t mainstream. The blog was more of an odd hobby than anything else.

Amanda become more proud of her craft and began teaching fermentation classes. Slowly, it gained momentum as people became increasingly interested and supportive.

Amanda never would have predicted the popularity and outcome of her blog.

The excitement of discovering such a life-changing habit has opened Amanda to a new worldview.

[Fermentation] makes you understand the way the world works better. Thinking about bacteria and yeast and the way we interact with them is such a good way to understand the world and how little we know about the world.

The Future of Phickle

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 10.02.51 AMInspired by “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz, Amanda shared the excitement that she was in the process of writing a vegetable fermentation book.

There are a lot of books out there about fermentation for beginners. Basically, [my book] isn’t going to be a crazy advanced book, even though some recipes might go into the crazy advanced area. It will be deep on one specific topic. Vegetable fermentation is a whole other special category that can’t be summed into one chapter in one book.”

And she’s right. There are a lot of books about beer, bread, and yogurt out there. Fermentation tends to be thrown in with pickling and canning in one chapter, usually in the middle of a book, barely worth mentioning.

Amanda also hinted that she was working on instructional fermentation videos for her website. It would be a new way to combine her classes and recipes into one conglomerate.

One of her dreams is to teach classes full time. Amanda feels empowered to help people who love fermentation as much as she does. Amanda loved the idea of one day having volunteer sous chefs for classes.

Fermentation Fears

Many reasons people avoid fermentation is out of fear. But, in reality, fermentation takes no extra effort or specialized knowledge as Amanda can attest. You don’t need fancy ingredients or fancy vegetables; fermentation is a very straightforward, simple process that has been happening before human beings even existed.

Animals do it; you don’t need to be involved in the process, you just need to be. As Amanda explained,

Don’t be afraid. We need to learn to pull away from our food and stop trusting somebody else’s opinion about what we should be eating – from the nutritional label to what’s being stalked on the shelves. I think fermentation is empowering, it’s a way to say: ‘this is what tastes good, this is what looks good, this is what smells good – I don’t need your best-buy date, I can judge this for myself.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 10.05.15 AMFermentation is not only a safe preservation method; in fact, it’s the safest preservation method.

If you think you don’t have the time to ferment but are able to make dinner, then you have time.

While making dinner chop extra veggies, and instead of cooking them with the dinner, put them into a jar with a salt brine – a few weeks later you have delicious pickles. It’s that simple!

[That’s] the crux of why I do what I do.”

About Amanda Feifer

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 10.03.23 AMAmanda doesn’t necessarily see herself as a ‘Foodie’. She cares about the quality of her food and where it comes from.

If we as a nation cared more about food quality issues then we wouldn’t have to worry about some of the other issues that we have, like industrial agro and obesity.

Amanda has no training or culinary background, so she takes a lot of inspiration and direction from other blogs and websites, such as Food In Jars, Madame Formage, Allyson Kramer, and Teaspoons & Petals, exemplifying their expertise and passion.

Amanda tries to use locally grown vegetables for fermentation. However, she clarified that you don’t need special organic foods to ferment because fermentation protects the good nutrition that everyday, supermarket food has.

Fermentation is a basic life skill with many home chefs discovering this essential procedure. It resonates with people because there are no other flavors in the world like fermented flavors.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 10.11.12 AM

**If you’re still interested about Phickle and fermentation classes you can sign up for Amanda’s bimonthly newsletter OR follow her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

[all pictures are property of Amanda Feifer]

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Originally from Rochester, New York, Grace studies Communications at Saint Joseph’s University. Green from birth, she grew up wearing reusable cloth diapers and eating co-op vegetables. She's always been conscious of humanity’s impact on the environment. She hopes to eventually form a career as a way to advocate her ethical & sustainability principles. View all posts by Grace Rieck

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