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A hunger for fermented food

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Fruitful experience: Anamaria Worswick, who has a certificate in herbal science, is seen fermenting loquat wine(Photo by Melanie Fiander)

Anamaria Worswick started fermenting food while living on a commune in California.

She and the other members survived by eating food they found in dumpsters; fermentation was a way for them to preserve it.

The Bermudian now hopes to profit off that skill. She moved to Arizona with her four-year-old daughter Alkimia this month to start her own food fermentation business.

“Our bodies depend on the microorganisms that live on us and in us,” she said. “The more fermented foods you eat the greater the diversity you have in your body. There is strength in diversity. Incorporating more live foods into your body strengthens your overall microbiome. It is good for overall health. Even the commercial yoghurt companies are patterning different bacteria. If they are in on it there must be something to it.”

The 27-year-old lived within the Green Valley Village intentional community for a year. She returned to Bermuda in 2009. She didn’t start her business here because she wasn’t sure the Island was quite ready for it.

“Sometimes people are a little sceptical,” she said.

The reality is that many people consume fermented foods on a daily basis: cheese, wine, beer, yoghurt and certain types of bread such as sourdough.

Miss Worswick became interested in food while volunteering at an orphanage in India at the age of 16. She has a certificate in herbal science from the California Institute of Herbal Studies in Sonoma, California.

“When I started fermenting food I was living with about 50 permanent members in Sebastopol,” she said. “We had a farm, but we also could have as many as 30 volunteers to feed.”

They collected 70 percent of their food by picking through grocery store dumpsters.

“Grocery stores throw out tons of food each day that is perfectly edible,” she said. “They might throw out an apple with a slight bruise, or food that has almost reached its expiration date. Many foods are good even a few days after the expiration date. It is very wasteful. Some bakeries will put the day’s bread outside at night for homeless people to take.”

Miss Worswick learned to make wine with boxes of fruit that were going rotten.

The commune also had goats. She learned to milk them and make cheese, mostly cream cheese.

“Fermenting is just a series of processes, facilitated by bacteria or yeast, that help transform food from their original form to something more consumable, tastier, more nutritious or preserved,” she said. “Lately, I have been making a lot of miso which is fermented soy bean paste.”

She saw a number of advantages to fermented foods.

“It preserves the food,” she said. “The food becomes more digestible. The flavour of the food is enhanced.”

She said the hardest thing about making fermented food was sourcing ingredients.

While living in Bermuda she experimented with loquat and Surinam cherry wine.

“We opened the loquat wine on Boxing Day,” she said. “That was very nice. The Surinam cherry wine is still fermenting, so I have left that behind.”

There are a number of ways to make wine from fruit.

To make loquat wine, she boiled the fruit and added sugar. She then mashed, mixed and strained the fruit.

Next, she added commercial yeast, or wild yeast which can be found on wild grapes. The wine is aged for at least six months.

“The thing with making wine, you have to create an ideal habitat for the yeasts to thrive and grow,” she said.

If oxygen is added to the process you get vinegar.

Miss Worswick is now in Patagonia, a town 60 miles south of Tucson. She’s gone into business with a friend who makes and sells sauerkraut, another fermented product.

“The move is something I have been thinking about for a long time,” she said. “I hope to sell my fermented products such as wine and miso at farmers’ markets and grocery stores in the area.”

The joy of soy: Soy beans are pictured fermenting(Photo by Melanie Fiander)
Anamaria Worswick has left Bermuda to start her own food fermentation business(Photo by Melanie Fiander)
Strength in diversity: Fermented food items made by Anamaria Worswick(Photo by Melanie Fiander)


Some books about fermented foods recommended by Anamaria Worswick:

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture.

The Revolution Will be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Revolution.

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, by Sally Fallon