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Feed your fermentation needs at Pickle Fest

Social Pickle is bringing the ultimate pickle festival to Foodhall on Saturday 27 November – and we're told the competition winners will get "novelty prizes and the adoration of millions of tiny bacteria"...

Social Pickle Making pickles web
Social Pickle

Social Pickle is a group of artists, scientists, chefs and friends who use fermentation as a tool for connection.

The collective aims to re-skill and empower people in their food choices by tapping into the deep history of food preservation. They facilitate community sharing through the fermentation and preservation of locally foraged and rescued foods. Through this work they create closer connections with people, the environment – and, of course, the plants that find their way into the pickles.

We spoke to the Social Pickle team to get the lowdown on the upcoming Pickle Fest, taking place this Saturday 27 November at Foodhall, and any top tips for beginner picklers.

What can people expect from Pickle Fest?

Pickle Fest is going to be our event of the year! We're hosting workshops and a mini pickle market throughout the day at the new Foodhall on Brown Street.

You can swing by to pick up some of the delicious results from the Glut Clubs, including our spiced apple and pumpkin sauce. Drop in to learn how to make your own wild fermented (naturally fizzy) soda.

In the evening, we're hosting the South Yorkshire pickle competition. If you're a pickler, fermenter or jam maker (there's a few different categories), then bring along a jar to enter.

Everyone will get the chance to taste and judge. The winners will win novelty prizes and the adoration of millions of tiny bacteria!

There will be delicious hot food served up from the Foodhall kitchen and a bar with our very own apple cider vinegar used in cocktails. The band Soup Review will be playing live to add the final flavours to the evening.

Social Pickle Pickling in the kitchen web
Social Pickle

Why should people should try pickling and fermenting?

Fermented foods are transformed and preserved by living microbes such as bacteria. We also have living microbes inside our gut, which make up our gut microbiome.

Our gut microbiome is intricately linked to our health and to all of our other organs. Our gut microbes help us metabolise and absorb nutrients, just like they do for plants. They affect our immune system and our general immune health.

There’s some developing research that says gut microbes can influence our mood. Unhealthy gut microbiomes are potentially associated with depression and anxiety.

In fact, 90% of serotonin receptors are in our gut. So when we eat fermented food, we’re feeding our gut and adding friendly bacteria to help keep our microbiome healthy.

Can you share a few tips for any first time fermenters?

Any 'lacto' fermented product is as simple as adding salt to your vegetable to create an environment that bad bacterias can't stand, but the good bacteria strand lactobacillus thrive in. They help you to transform your food into longer lasting and newly sour tasting joy.

One of our favourite ferments from last year is perfect for this time of year: SPROUT KRAUT!

Just weigh out 3% of the brussel sprouts weight in salt and massage this in, until the vegetable has let out enough liquid to submerge all the solids.

We added ancho chillis for some smokey heat, but you could use any spices, such as pepper, ginger or mustard seeds.

Social Pickle A selection of pickles web
Social Pickle

Our top tip is for what comes next: the kraut care. If you've packed your kraut in a jar, leave it out of the fridge for a couple weeks to do its thing. Make sure you ‘burp’ it daily to let out the gas that gets produced in the process.

Do a taste test all along the way. How long you leave a kraut to ferment for does depend on personal taste. Some like it krunchy and still a little salty, some like it really sour and tender.

What other Social Pickle events are coming up?

We've opened up fortnightly Glut Clubs in the shiny new Foodhall kitchen, which are open for people to come and get involved in.

Because a fermented product needs tending to and caring for, it creates a nice continued dialogue for those involved. We have a virtual space too where queries about home projects can also be shared.

We have a few spaces left in the final Glut Club of 2021 taking place on Tuesday 7 December, 5-8pm. Look out for more exciting plans coming in the New Year. These will include farm trips and more.

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