FOOD+DRINK / OAS | FOUR WOMEN – TIFFANY JESSE – FOOD ALCHEMIST
OAS is our new collection of workwear-inspired clothing. Our shoot features four women, going about their work, wearing OAS clothes. A potter, a gardener, a gatherer and preserver and an icon painter. This week we speak to the gatherer and preserver – Tiffany Jesse.
Tiffany Jesse is a quietly-spoken, thoughtful food alchemist. She raises chickens, rears and milks Nubian goats. She cooks to feed her family and she preserves: bottling, pickling and, particularly, fermenting – kefir, kombutcha, kimchi, sauerkraut. She bakes a wonderful sourdough rye bread. These are foods that are re-balancing, health-giving and delicious. Asked her philosophy of food she quotes the great Michael Pollan, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
What drew you to fermenting?
Kefir was what really drew me into fermenting, I got my first batch of kefir grains 8 years ago, I was given a tiny amount by a good friend who has always inspired me. She was on a similar journey trying to unlock the key to finding out why her health wasn’t better even though she worked so hard at it. I have suffered from psoriasis from a very early age and since I left home at 17 I have been on a mission to manage this without resorting to the drugs and pharmaceuticals which are the only thing doctors prescribe. I had tried so many different diets and holistic approaches over the years. I wasn’t expecting that this rather strange lump of what looked like cottage cheese was going to transform my health more than any single thing I’d done in the past.
Tell us about the art and history of fermenting…
The art of fermenting food is very traditional with many cultures in the past, using it to both preserve food and boost the nutritional content of the ingredients. Kefir is one of the oldest cultured milk products, it originated in Russia and the Caucasus and was considered part of a family’s and tribe’s wealth, it would have been past down through the generations. The beauty of it is that if you look after it the kefir grains will give a very tasty nutrient rich yoghurt type drink for years. Kimchi has a similar cultural past in Korea, it is eaten as a vegetable side dish which is both spicy and sour, and is still a vital component of korean cuisine.
What are the health benefits of fermenting foods, for you personally and others?
Fermented foods are fantastically rich in probiotics and the lactic acid produced during fermentation promotes the growth of healthy flora in the intestine. The moment kefir came into my life I was hooked. My general health improved, my skin cleared up and I had more energy. I went on to do a course with award winning chef and nutritionist Daphne Lambert called ‘Living Nutrition’ at Trill Farm. It was so inspiring, she taught me how to make the most delicious sour dough rye bread and explained the art of making sauerkraut and kimchi. I have recently started making Kombutcha which I love. Naturally fizzy, slightly sour but so refreshing. Some of these foods are an aquired taste, they can be quite sharp and pungent, but if incorporated into your diet you will definitely feel the benefits.
Tiffany Jesse lives in East Devon running a holiday cottage, raising her son and milking goats which she uses to ferment her kefir.
If you would like to find out more about the art of fermenting and the health benefits, please email Tiffany at email@example.com
The Tactility of Utility is the phrase we took as the precept for our new collection of workwear-inspired clothing. We’ve named it OAS – three letters, appropriately, at the heart of TOAST and standing for Ordinary Attire Studio. Shop OAS here.