Hella D.I.Y.

Homemade Soy Sauce: Part 1

As I started to write this post, I kept wanting to write: “Fermentation is not commonly used in the West.” After I wrote it though I kept coming up with examples of fermented products – beer, wine, cheese, ‘kraut, pickles, vinegar… etc. etc. We clearly ferment a lot of things. I suppose that in the East the methods and subjects are different so in some ways it feels like a different process, but fermentation is common to many cultures.

While I haven’t been able to clearly divide how different culture ferment, one thing I can say is that making soya sauce is funky involving kneading and mold and fermentation and sunlight.  This ancient process takes a long time, possibly up to six months, but the end result is stunning (according to the blogosphere). Here is step 1 to delicious homemade soy sauce.

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Rendering Suet aka Makin’ Lard

Suffice to say that I have a greater understanding of the scent of a medieval household after my first experience rendering suet.

I’ve been reading The Great Mortality by John Kelly, a riveting account of the black plague and how it wound its way through Europe in the 14th century. Needless to say a key ingredient in its spread was the incredible filth of households in this period. People bathed rarely and garbage (think dead animals, toilet offerings, rotten food) was strewn about the streets. They also used lard or tallow in making candles. According to Kelly, lard wasn’t a preferred source of fuel because of the smell.

So let me get this straight. People who were surrounded by rotting flesh and human excrement complained about the smell of burning lard. How could this be?

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