Fermenting food, drink and … ideas!

Many a successful idea is ‘fermented’ in the kitchen … and this may well have been the case in the creation of Timebank’s recent successful ‘End of Winter Potluck!’  

Not so long ago Faye Tohbyn was present at a fund-raiser to help a friend’s son make a trip to Cambodia. She ended up – as you do – chatting to three or four friends in the kitchen and these friends just happened to be Timebankers. They chatted about how good it would be to have another Timebank event and the idea of a potluck meal was muted. Faye really wanted to follow through on these discussions, had even begun considering a theme of ‘fermentation’ but hadn’t got a concrete way forward in mind. She liked earlier events, where people had sat around tables and talked about ideas and subjects that they were passionate about, but didn’t want the occasion to be formal.

Faye was still mulling over possibilities, when she arranged to meet up with Chris, the Timebank Co-Ordinator. This meeting really illustrated the power of sharing ideas and as the theme of ‘fermentation’ took hold, a notion, larger than the sum of its parts, came into being. Immediately the Sustainability Trust seemed to be the ideal venue, as its ethos would be completely in accord with the developing theme, and the central location would also be accessible for people across the suburbs, in Lower Hutt, Johnsonville, Brooklyn and Newtown.       

This event then, would give people the opportunity to listen to those who have expertise in fermentation, sample fermented products from some key commercial outlets and bring their own ‘fermented’ contributions to a shared potluck meal.  

The very healthy potluck items, brought along by the guests, included: salads, curries, hummus and beautifully flavoured vegetables and sauce with kimchee to add a fermented touch. There were several kombucha drinks, including ginger lime, coffee and mulled wine which gave an aromatic touch to the ‘End of Winter Potluck’.

CoYo (coyo.co.nz) produce dairy-free coconut yoghurt and ice cream and on the night provided generous tasters of Natural, Berry and Chocolate yoghurt and some beautiful coloured cards containing recipe ideas for people to take away. Brooklyn Deli (www.thebrooklyndeli.com) supplied sour-dough bread, which included gluten-free varieties, and all were very tasty. Both of these companies’ delicious products were included with the potluck meal and many present said they would not only buy these products in the future, but would recommend them to others.

The event was held on Saturday 27th August and afterwards Chris commented, ‘What amazing food, drink and conversation we all had at the Sustainability Trust. The food was diverse, healthy and from many cultures. We had passionate experts on alternate food and discussion about everything under the sun’.

By the end everyone had so enjoyed the evening’s happy and supportive atmosphere that they all pitched in with the cleaning-up - even before the offer of Timebank credit for their efforts!

Faye felt that there had been some awesome conversations and a real interest in the ZingBokashi bucket, available from Sustainability Trust. The latter is a form of fermenting food-scraps as opposed to composting. This is a really interesting system of fermenting with minimal odour and there is a good website for finding out more.

The ‘End of Winter Potluck’ meal was so successful and enjoyable, that there has already been talk of a possible Timebank initiative to organize a ‘Fermenting Festival’ for next year with more companies supporting the event. As Faye commented, ‘How’s that for fermenting ideas?’   And I think she may well be on to a winner!

Story by Sue Jenkins