Backyard

THE CULTURED KITCHEN

Perhaps the first fermented substance that comes to mind is not a food but a beverage. People started making wine around 8000 years ago in the Caucasus area of central Europe, and 7000-year-old jars containing the remains of wine were excavated in the Zagros Mountains in Iran. There is also evidence of fermented beverages in Babylon around 3000 BCE, ancient Egypt (3150 BCE), pre-Hispanic Mexico (2000 BCE) and Sudan (around 1500 BCE). That’s a venerable tradition.

Of course, wine is not the only fermented beverage. Beer brewing was, like wine, probably a happy accident to begin with, occurring when wild yeasts met up with grains that had been left warm and wet. There is archaeological evidence of ale drinking dating as far back as the Iranian wine jars and from the same region. There’s an endless list of other alcoholic beverages made from all kinds of fruit, grains and even vegetables such as potato.

The origins of culturing dairy are, as they say, lost in the mists of time, but a well-loved tale

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