Get Wild and Spicy This Valentine’s Day!

February 6, 2020

Sam Pike’s various fermented foods and beverages.
Valentine’s Day is often about fancy dinners, boxes of chocolate, and a bouquet of flowers. This year, you can change things up! Attend one or both of the workshops below on foraging and fermenting with Whitewater, WI’s very own foodie entrepreneur, Sam Pike, at The Book Teller. February 9th at 4p: Wild-Crafted Soda February 16th at 4p: Hot Sauces & Salsas Not familiar with foraging and fermenting? No worries! We sat down with Pike to learn about these affordable and sustainable hobbies and why you would love one of these workshops.
Sam Pike’s fermented hot sauce.
So what is fermentation?
There are two different kinds. There are things like beer or kombucha. You have yeast and you add it to ingredients. Pike’s classes are about wild-fermentation. You take your ingredients, whether foraged from the wild or purchased from a grocery store, and you let natural bacteria do it’s thing. Pike shares, “Nature wants it to happen, so it happens.”
Then what is foraging?
Foraging is when you go out into nature or a city park and pick a respectable amount of edible plants. Pike suggests foraging 20% of what’s growing so it can repopulate.
Foraged sumac fermenting for Pike’s Wild-Crafted Soda workshop.
“It’s eating what’s wild and natural. Humans only eat 150 plants. There are over 80,000 edible plants in this world. That opens up a whole new world of flavors and textures that you can’t get from a normal grocery store.”

-Sam Pike, Whitewater, WI foodie and fermented foods connoisseur

Sam Pike with his fermenting spruce.
Why the workshops?
“A. I really enjoy talking about food with other people, and B. I also learn a lot from people who attend. It’s a fun way to spend an hour or two. Plus, Wisconsin people have such a commitment to their heritage, we should keep following those traditions.”

-Sam Pike, Whitewater, WI foodie and fermented foods connoisseur

You will definitely try things you’ve never tried, potentially meet new people, and take home some delicious food or drink. Oftentimes, Pike has found that you will learn that you like something you didn’t think you liked before. You also get to learn how to make fermented foods safely. “People have been doing this for thousands of years,” says Pike.
Dehydrated fermented sauerkraut shake.
Get creative!
You also get to learn all the basics in order to be creative on your own! Pike experiments often. He dehydrated fermented sauerkraut and turned it into a seasoned salt. He says, “I really love this because despite how much I make sauerkraut, I don’t eat it a lot, but I always put this shake on pizza.” His fondest memory is the first time he ever tried to ferment something. Pike explains, “My brother and I wanted to make dandelion wine. I was 17. He was 20. We bought honey, picked a giant basket of dandelions, and mixed it with bread yeast. The resulting thing was disgusting. Tasted bready with floral undertones. I’ve gotten much better at both since then,” he laughs.
Sam Pike, sharing details about his fermenting foraged sumac.
Moral of the story?
Sometimes it’s nice to change things up, get out of your comfort zone, and make some weird (but delicious!) food/beverage!
“There’s so much unexplored. People who ferment/forage are turning traditional ideas on top of their head…breaking myths. At the core of all this is eating local, it’s healthy, full of probiotics, and it’s fun to ferment stuff. It’s fun to see how food changes. I want more people to do it.”

-Sam Pike, Whitewater, WI foodie and fermented foods connoisseur

Heads up for the near future, Pike will be leading a foraging hike or two late winter/early spring! In the meantime, will you be getting wild? Or spicy? Let us know how it goes!