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OS Fermentation Workshop

large group of people sitting around a table working with vegetables and jars

Professors Cary Peppermint and Leila Nadir are holding the biennial OS Fermentation Workshop on Monday, March 27, 2017, at 12L30 p.m. at Sage Art Center. In a collaboration across the humanities and between the environmental humanities and the arts, Peppermint's digital art students will be working with Nadir's food media literature (sustainability) students to hack vegetables, fruits, and the Android operating system in order to generate a creative moment of live culture, on campus and beyond. This workshop is inspired by the students' investigation of the politics of industrial food, microbiology, and public health, and by the exploration of the politics of new media culture and proprietary computing. The workshop is part of the professors' collaborative series of artworks about the creation of new networks of open-source, sustainable micro-practices.

Checklist for OS Fermentation Workshop: Hacking Vegetables and Electronics

Collaboration between Food Media Literature and Digital Art students

***Vegetables must be organic. Chemical inputs can interfere with the growth of microbial cultures.***

Every participant needs approximately a half or whole head of cabbage. If you use lots of other vegetables in your mix, you can use only half a head. So keep this in mind, and you can share with another participant.

Suggested optional vegetables besides cabbage:

  • Root vegetables (carrots, beets, turnip, parsnip, daikon, etc.)
  • Onion and garlic family (scallions, red/yellow onions, shallots, etc.)
  • Peppers (red, green, hot)
  • Fresh herbs
  • Apples (adds a delicious sweetness to ferments)
  • Celery
  • Seaweed
  • *No leafy vegetables

*Fermentation is a slow cooking process. Any strong flavors (like garlic/onion) that you add will get quite strong eventually.

Equipment needed:

***For local participants, supplies can be dropped off any time on the day of the workshop at Sage Art Center.***

  • Optional: apron
  • 32-ounce Wide-mouth mason jar with lid ***must be a wide-mouth jar***
  • Knife
  • Grater
  • Cutting board
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Salt (especially unrefined sea salt, which will add lots of trace minerals to your ferment)
  • Vegetables
  • Natural soap

*You may also want to bring an extra jar and lid from around home (recycled from food purchases) to capture any extra ferment that doesn’t fit into your jar. It is helpful if you can get your hand into the top of your jar.

A note on cleanliness and chemicals:
You will be "massaging" your vegetables with your hands and creating an environment for a microbial culture to grow. Therefore, use natural/biodegradable soap so that the antibacterial properties of industrial soaps don't contaminate or destroy all that good bacteria in your ferments. Additionally, if water is needed to keep vegetables submerged once you get home, be sure to use water that is chlorine-free or de-chlorinated. Using water straight from the tap can kill the good bacteria necessary for fermentation to happen. (We live in a culture and historical time that is very unfriendly to microbial life-forms!) If you are using chlorinated, municipal water, this simply requires that you let some water sit out overnight, exposed to the air, and the chlorine will evaporate.

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