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Lacto-Inspiration

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Mark Smallwood talks about lacto-fermentation at the Pfeiffer Center in Chestnut Ridge on March 10.
  • Mark Smallwood talks about lacto-fermentation at the Pfeiffer Center in Chestnut Ridge on March 10.
Farmer and master fermenter Mark Smallwood knows methods for preserving produce that doesn’t include incinerating its nourishing elements, and he’ll be sharing his techniques with participants in the upcoming workshop, “Lacto-Fermentation; Power Kraut and More,” on March 10 at the Pfeiffer Center in Chestnut Ridge.

Lacto-fermentation is a valuable method of preservation for both farmers and nonfarmers who’d like to substantially improve the nutritional value of their food. The technique produces lactic acid as the means to preserve. There is no heating involved, which keeps the produce “alive” and fresh, increasing the availability of nutrients that strengthen the immune system. It also improves the digestibility of many “heavy foods,” like meat.

Since the Industrial Revolution, farmers have commonly used the pasteurization method for preservation, using corn syrup, vinegar, and heat. “The pasteurization method kills the nutrients,” says Smallwood. “With lacto-fermentation you still have live, raw food.”

Participants in the workshop will be given a thorough overview of the process. By day’s end, each will have received information regarding what to grow, how to grow it, and how to best preserve what isn’t initially eaten. There will also be plenty of hands-on activities. Smallwood says attendees will learn how “cutting up vegetables and preparing a variety of fermentations are the nuts and bolts of the workshop.”

But lacto-fermentation is nothing new. The practice predates the Ancient Greeks. “This goes back to "BR"—before refrigerators—and it’s so easy to do,” says Smallwood. “That would be the lasting impression I’d like to make on the participants—it’s healthy and it’s easy.”

The workshop will be held on March 10 at the Pfeiffer Center in Chestnut Ridge.
(845) 352-5020; www.pfeiffercenter.org.

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