Preservation guru is hoping to unite food factions

“Can It & Ferment It,” by Richfield resident Stephanie Thurow, is out July 18, availabe anywhere books are sold. (Submitted images)

Stephanie Thurow was trying to bridge two worlds when she wrote her first book.

“Can It & Ferment It,” out July 18, is full of recipes for the titular preservation processes – even though, according to Thurow, people tend to be canners or fermenters, but not both.

When Thurow decided to write the book, “I was realizing there was a big divide between the canning community and the fermenters,” the Richfield mother said.

But Thurow refuses to pick a side.

“I got started with canning probably 12 years ago, and I was just looking for a hobby at that point,” she said. “I love pickles. I really wanted a good pickle to go along with my favorite drink at the time, which was a bloody Marry.”

In that pursuit, Thurow was hooked. “I pretty much got obsessed with canning,” she said.

Stephanie Thurow

But the south Minneapolis native had long appreciated the Korean fermented cabbage staple, kimchi, which was always around the house growing up. So Thurow maintains allegiance to both factions of preservationists as they draw their ideological lines.

Fermenters prefer their way of preservation because of the nutritional value it provides, Thurow observes. The chemical transformation makes food more easily digestible and fosters the probiotics that nutritionists say benefit to the gut, she explains.

“Fermenters don’t really get why you can anything because there’s none of those benefits to it,” Thurow said.

Canning, which preserves food by killing the bacteria, has it’s own benefits, though. “I love both for different reasons,” Thurow said, explaining that if produce is canned within 24 hours of being harvested, it retains more of its nutrients than food that travels great distances to the grocery store shelf.

“Can It & Ferment It” contains at least one recipe for each process for all the fruit and vegetables covered in the book.

Thurow’s favorite might be the canned garlic dill pickles. “Everybody asks me what my secret is, and I don’t think that there’s a secret other than using freshly harvested cucumbers,” she said.

Whatever secrets she does have, they aren’t so anymore. “I share all my secrets in there,” Thurow said.

Her status as a publicly known food preservation guru began with her blog, Minnesota from Scratch, which she started four and a half years ago with her aunt as the two mothers documented their favorite recipes and activities for their kids. Thurow was emboldened to write a book as the blog gained traction among like minds.

“I never expected we would grow into a following,” she said.

Mass audience or not, Thurow’s enthusiasm for her craft should be apparent to anyone who knows her. She regularly gives her homemade food products away as gifts, and she keeps two refrigerators to help accommodate her fermented creations.

Thurow makes it clear, “I live for preserving food.”

Contact Andrew Wig at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RISunCurrent.