Pickled Vegetables, Rose & Raspberry Beets, and Greens with Miso Dressing & Toasted Almonds

By Jenny Breen
Photos courtesy of Mill City Times

Dinner on the Farm is back with three more Farm to Table ideas.

“The flavorful space between fresh and rotten” is how Sandor Katz, fermentation expert and author of The Art of Fermentation, describes it. While it may seem like fermenting food might be an obscure skill left for the fringe foodies of our community, in fact we partake in and enjoy the flavors and benefits of fermentation almost every day.


In addition to the obvious like wine and sauerkraut and—since you’re reading The Growler—beer, a list of other fermented foods includes yogurt, pickles, cheese, bread, coffee, and even chocolate. It is a traditional way to preserve the harvest, to convert sugar to alcohol and to make things taste, well, different. Every culture has their version of a fermented favorite, and each has its own cultural twist. What is universal, however, is that eaten regularly, fermented foods can be vital to a healthy and diverse gut. We need these foods in our diet to digest and absorb the nutrients in our food.

It can be intimidating initially to prepare fermented foods. There is a fear that fermentation is dangerous and the bacteria potentially harmful. But according to the USDA, there has never been a case of food poisoning from fermented vegetables. The same cannot be said of raw vegetables. In any case, nature is full of these beneficial bacteria and fermentation is simply the process of growing or harnessing these little nuggets of nutrition and flavor into creative, interesting and wholesome accompaniments to delicious foods of all types.


I am not an expert like Sandor Katz, though I am definitely inspired by him. Through my own experimentation I have found that like any cooking, fermentation is simply a matter of choosing ingredients you love—vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices—and following a particular method of preparation. Like cooking, it is a process of balancing contrasting properties like acidic and basic, flavors like sweet, sour, or savory, and textures like crunchy and soft—embellishing each of these combinations with uniqueness that represents the season, the place and the palate of the cook. Best of all, the possibilities are endless.

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Avatar About Jenny Breen

Jenny Breen is a passionate advocate for eating and cooking sustainable, seasonal whole foods. She has been cooking and baking professionally in the Twin Cities for over 20 years. She is co-owner of Good Life Catering, a sustainable whole foods catering company, and is a Public Health nutrition educator. She teaches a sustainable foods cooking class at the University of Minnesota, works on food and nutrition policies for Bloomington public health, and works with Minneapolis and Richfield public schools to improve their scratch cooking skills and offerings. She published her first cookbook, Cooking Up the Good Life, in 2011 with the University of Minnesota Press.

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