“Any fool can suffer in the bush.” THE FERMENTS EDITION

Every time we find ourselves sitting around the campfire, enjoying the most scrumptious Acacia wood-smoked chicken, impeccably seasoned stewed veggies, coal-cooked sweet potatoes, and glorious mounds of ugali or rice, Brian rattles off the phrase, “Any fool can suffer in the bush.”

He heard one of the professors he works with say it once, and it’s so true.  With just a little bit of effort (plus a couple of expert Maasai campfire chefs), cooking in the bush can be downright exquisite.

This series of posts will feature recipes we’ve tried, interesting foods we’ve encountered, and any other food-related experiences we’ve had and deem noteworthy.  Fellow foodies, stay tuned!  And the rest of you, we will soon return to our regularly scheduled blogging.



I brought a copy of one of my favorite magazines, “The Sun,” to Tanzania with me.  The May 2010 issue of this Chapel Hill publication featured an interview with Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Future Will Not Be Microwaved.  Although I have yet to read (but yearn to read) either of these books, the interview really got the fermentation ball rolling here in our own kitchen.  And with all the antibiotics going into my body right now (i.e. doxycycline to prevent malaria) I need all the probiotics I can get!

This ancient, ingenious, salubrious method of preserving and altering food never ceases to amaze me.  With the right ingredients and environment you can let almost any food sit out, essentially start to spoil, and transform it into a whole other live-culture food, with a radically different taste and a host of new health benefits.  I like to call this magical little phenomenon “controlled rotting.”

Here’s what we’ve made so far:


Brian was casually making yogurt since he got here (as mentioned in this previous post), but the consumption of yogurt has grown exponentially since my arrival, and now we’re doing it on a weekly basis.  It’s a super easy process and its byproduct (whey) you can use in oh-so-many… wheys.  In fact, one of its many uses is as a slightly sour substitute to water for the brine in other fermented foods.

Pre-strained homemade yogurt



Glorious whey


Despite not having alum to keep these cukes crispy, they managed to turn out pretty tasty.  We used some left over whey from our yogurt making for part of the brine.

Dill, mustard seed, garlic, and "assorted spices" went into these pickles


One of my favorite fermentation projects!  These fermented cabbage and carrot concoctions are good for you and can be enjoyed as a snack, or as an accoutrement to salad, yogurt, cottage cheese, Korean barbeque, the list goes on and on.

Here we have four different combinations of spices and brines to make some sour, spicy, gingery, and rosemary spiked ferments

Zucchini with garlic, onions, and radishes. Also, fermented beets to the right.

I think we'll be set for a while.


Because of our many baking adventures, we try to keep a batch of sourdough ready to go.  Occasionally it heads south and begins to give off an odor reminiscent of feet.  At that point, we have to either start it from scratch or try to salvage it by feeding it lots of flour and water, and apologizing to it profusely for the neglect.  Luckily, we are proud to say that everything we’ve baked with it so far has turned out pretty darn good.

Our sourdough starter

Grow little yeasties grow!

When we return to the states, cheese-making, beer-brewing, mead-making, and all kinds of other live-culture ventures are on the agenda.  I am eager to further explore the world of “controlled rotting,” and will keep you abreast on any new discoveries, recipes, or projects.

In the meantime, check out our “Recipes” page for a few fermentation ideas!

Related posts:   “Any fool can suffer in the bush.”  THE FRUIT AND VEGGIE EDITION

~ by brianandmolly on August 14, 2011.

One Response to ““Any fool can suffer in the bush.” THE FERMENTS EDITION”

  1. I love this post. I just want to make that clear. Big up, Molly B and B $.

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