"With over 200 breweries, Oregon is often considered the craft beer capital of America. Beer geeks and casual drinkers across the country can also thank the state’s farmers for their brews: hops, the essential ingredient that gives beer its bitter flavor, is a rare crop throughout the U.S. but not in Oregon. Last year, Oregon State University established the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives (OHBA), the first archive in the U.S., dedicated to preserving and telling the intertwined story of hop and beer production and the craft brewing movement. They're posting materials from their collection to Tumblr, Flickr and Zotero.
"The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success: The umami craze has turned a much-maligned and misunderstood food additive into an object of obsession for the world’s most innovative chefs. But secret ingredient monosodium glutamate’s biggest secret may be that there was never anything wrong with it at all."
"During the most recent ice age, milk was essentially a toxin to adults because — unlike children — they could not produce the lactase enzyme required to break down lactose, the main sugar in milk. But as farming started to replace hunting and gathering in the Middle East around 11,000 years ago, cattle herders learned how to reduce lactose in dairy products to tolerable levels by fermenting milk to make cheese or yogurt. Several thousand years later, a genetic mutation spread through Europe that gave people the ability to produce lactase — and drink milk — throughout their lives. That adaptation opened up a rich new source of nutrition that could have sustained communities when harvests failed." - The Milk Revolution - how a single mutation expanded (some) of humanity's diet. (Nature.com)
After a meteoric rise in popularity in the US as a health drink, Kombucha has been pulled from the shelves of many major retailers over concerns that the drink often contains significant amounts of alcohol due to bottle-fermentation. On the bright side, it isn't too hard to find a mother and brew your own. But fermentation fetishists everywhere are left to wonder: Is Kefir next? More generally, do the trade-offs necessary to conform to commercial food regulations destroy the benefits of fermentation?
May 1st is National Homebrew Day. Hundreds of thousands of people in America brew their own beer, wine, mead and other alcoholic beverages. Want to try out the hobby? Here's a great community, and here's a great guide. [more inside]
Back before refrigeration, humanity turned to fermentation for much of our food preservation. With the help of some friendly bacteria and/or yeasts, home cooks can transmute tea into kombucha, and milk into yogurt, creme fraiche and buttermilk. [more inside]