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Rain doesn’t hinder Fermentation Fest festivities in Reedsburg

October 9, 2017 GMT

Saturday morning’s rainfall didn’t stop Shawn Rediske from teaching Fermentation enthusiasts the ins and outs of bread-making.

The engineer turned baker took over the basement of First Presbyterian Church in Reedsburg during Fermentation Fest to demonstrate the science behind baking different types of rustic and sourdough breads. Rediske told his audience the breads contain four essential ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt.

“The way that I look at bread is on a continuum,” he said. “It’s the continuum of fermentation – appropriate because that’s why we’re here.”

Rediske is co-owner and baker at Water House Foods, in Lake Mills, which opened in late 2008. Water House specializes in making foods using Wisconsin-based and organic ingredients. Over 65 percent of the ingredients that Water House uses are sourced from Wisconsin.

Unlike straight bread, which would include commercial brands, rustic breads require more time and moisture, Rediske said. Using French and Italian bread as examples, Rediske described how “pate fermentee” or day-old dough is used to add more flavor to the bread through additional fermentation.

“The more moisture you get into it, the more the grain can give you flavor,” he said. “The more time you give to it, the more the grain can give you flavor.”

Yeast is a fungus, and it eats sugars that are present in flour when it’s added to dough, Rediske explained. Like other living organisms, the yeast then excretes waste through a series of metabolic processes.

“The thing that makes bread taste like bread, beer taste like beer, and most other fermented products is yeast poop,” Rediske said. “In the case of bread, yeast poop out carbon dioxide and alcohol – it’s what makes bread taste like bread.”

Rediske went on to demonstrate how to bake a series of different sourdough and rustic breads, and audience members took home a loaf of their own.

Other Fermentation Fest events that took place over the weekend included classes on making beer steins and coffee mugs, the basics of lacto-fermentation, traditional distillation methods used in rural Mexico and many other fermentation demonstrations.

Wormfarm Institute Executive Director and cofounder Donna Neuwirth said Saturday’s rainfall did not hinder crowds at Fermentation Fest, which in the past has attracted more than 20,000 visitors to the Reedsburg area.

“We expected it to be slow, and it was wild,” Neuwirth said Sunday. “We expect today to be even busier.”

Fermentation Fest will continue next weekend. Neuwirth said many demonstrations and courses are still open, and guests can register online on the Fermentation Fest website. In addition to fermentation classes, Neuwirth said there will be plenty of art on display in the city park next weekend as well.

“I think the most important part of this event is the visuals,” she said. “There’s art, music and handmade food carts and artisan food.”