Posted on May 04, 2017
Blogger and Great Food Club editor Abby Brennan joined us for a day of pickling and fermentation. Here she shares her experience of the course and her time at the School ...
I love the School of Artisan Food in North Nottinghamshire. It is an absolute gem. It is set on the wonderful Welbeck Abbey Estate, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Portland in the heart of the ancient Dukeries. The Estate remains private but is now also home to a number of thriving artisan food businesses (of which more in a later blog) and the superb School. On this occasion I attended for the Great Food Club.
“Fermentation is, let’s face it, a staging post on the road to rot” so said our tutor for the day, food writer and cook Lindy Wildsmith, as we began a day of Pickling and Fermenting at the fabulous School of Artisan Food.
If you don’t know the School, it is situated on the beautiful Welbeck Estate at the heart of Sherwood Forest and is surely is one of the jewels in Nottinghamshire’s culinary crown. Established in 2006, the School is housed in the former Victorian fire stables. This award-winning School has excellent purpose-built training facilities, kitchens and wood-burning bread ovens for the teaching of a whole host of wonderful and fascinating courses, from breadmaking and patisserie, cheese-making , brewing and butchery, to ice-cream making, chocolates and charcuterie. More recently the School has expanded its range of short courses, and now covers a wide variety of food related interests including photography, the history of food and food entrepreneurship. The School is “not-for-profit” and has an outstanding reputation, its location is serene with nothing much but birdsong to break the peace, and the architecture and countryside are inspiring.
I have attended courses here in previous years, including bread-making, using herbs, starting a food business, a day of feasting with Ivan Day the food historian and the fantastic “Food for Thought” weekend of foodie related lectures, so I was delighted when the School extended an invitation to the Great Food Club to join their first Pickling and Fermentation workshop.
The “Picklers” met before the course started with coffee and home-made bread and marmalade from School’s own bakery before we gathered in the School’s fully equipped and spacious training kitchen. There were around 12 of us, each with our own work station. Such a nice group of people too.
As Lindy got us to introduce ourselves it was clear that there was no shared reason why people joined this course, our group included organic farmers, pub owners, restaurant and farm shop owners, charity workers, prospective food start-ups and people who just love food and cooking, and the odd one who had been brought the course as a gift for Christmas (got a feeling the present-giver who came along treated herself at the same time!) Every course I have attended here brings a diverse group of people – some looking to turn their food passion into a business (or already have) and others that just want to try their hand at something a bit different – like making ice-cream. The environment is relaxing and welcoming and even total food novices can be sure they will be helped along in whatever course they have chosen to join. (Did I mention how much I love this place?).
Lindy was a friendly and chilled host, guiding us through and showing the processes as well as talking to us about the history of persevering, pickling and fermenting. The day moved along quickly with the cabbage for the Kimchi chopped and salted before the introductions were over and then a swift run through (working in pairs – a great way to meet other people and network with like-minded foodies if that’s your thing) prepping for our German Sauerkraut, Japanese Salt-Fermented (Shio-Fuke) Cucumber, Golden Mango Pickle and, the highlight for me, the Korean Kimchi (although it is fair to say that my pickling partner – who know you are you Mrs Garden Centre – bottled it on the amount of stunningly hot chilli paste she was prepared to add) ...