We were lucky enough to spend a night visiting with Katie and Gordon from Tracebridge Sourdough in Ashbrittle. Katie is what I aspire to be after twenty years of fermentation. She and her husband have their fingers in all aspects of fermentation. They teach fermentation, they sell ferments, and have a sourdough bakery all in their little farmhouse in Somerset.
Even though our visit was sandwiched between two busy days (teaching a daylong sourdough bread class and selling ferments at a shearing festival) Katie took the time to show me her ferments. Her kitchen alone is enough to make her seem like a modern day fermentation witch, with multiple bottles of milk kefir, water kefir and kombucha clustered around her kitchen sink. Apparently those were just the ferments that she needed to keep an eye on. In the bakery she has a warm cupboard full of fermenting vegetables. Then when they are finished she stashes them in a dedicated fermentation friendly fridge! <I am only a tad bit jealous.>
It was really interesting to meet with Katie and chat about ferments. It made me realize how diverse the fermentation world is! She has a ton of experience fermenting various fruits and vegetables. She seems to do most of her ferments for several weeks and without using a starter; whereas, I tend to do quick ferments with starter. <It’s probably related to the fact that space is at a premium in my house, and she has a fermentation fridge!>
The best part of our visit was a wonderful shared meal with both of our families, which naturally featured a number of Katie’s homemade ferments. She served me a few intriguing ferments and I will share her recipe for a very British pickle sometime soon.
We also exchanged glasses of our milk kefir, which gave me another surprise. Our kefir grains not only looked different, but the resulting milk tasted quite different! My grain being a larger quite firm grain that makes a sparkling clotted drink. Katie’s grains are smaller and softer (I ate a few accidentally) providing her with a drink that has a more cheesy flavour.
And of course, we were served plenty of sourdough bread.
Tracebridge is not only a fermentorium, it is also an AirBnB. I can recommend the room, and the breakfast comes with some freshly made ferments and potentially eggs from her nearly-wild flock of hens.