“They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.” So begins the cookbook and family history recently created by Zoe Kaplan, a senior studying Communication and Sustainable Food and Farming. Zoe has always loved food, particularly the pungent flavors of her Jewish family, but it wasn't until she moved to UMass Amherst that she discovered that the secret to many of those mysterious flavors was in the traditional fermentation methods used to preserve and enhance food. From sauerkraut to sour pickles to traditional challah, Jewish food is filled with microbial alchemy.
In the Fall of '21 Zoe reached out to Dan Bensonoff, coordinator of the UMass Permaculture Initiative, in hopes of doing an independent study focusing on Jewish fermentation traditions. She had already been exposed to these methods while taking Dan's Permaculture Practicum course, and she wanted to learn more.
Zoe hopes to continue exploring her family legacy through the realm of food and (re)building her own food traditions, as much has been lost through assimilation and modernization.
Want to try one of Zoe's recipes? Check out the full cookbook below.
Entries are submitted by project staff and UMass students.