Fermentation and Oven-Building Workshop




Fermentation and Oven-Building Workshop

with Sandor Katz and friends

at Walnut Ridge in Liberty, TN


May 23–30, 2018


Hands-on experiential learning: how to build an oven, and how to ferment various foods and beverages. Come prepared to work hard. We will generally spend the mornings building a wood-heated earth-clay oven and finishing other details of Sandor’s new outdoor kitchen; then the afternoons will be devoted to a range of fermentation projects. This residency is participatory in many ways. Students share in food preparation and clean-up, and our meals are a combination of planned ferments and spontaneous collaborations. The dynamic is friendly and communal. Students will have access to Sandor’s extensive library of fermentation-related books. We will also be harvesting, foraging, and visiting local fermentation businesses. Weather-depending, there will be an opportunity for dipping in a nearby creek and/or hiking.


Sandor will lead most of the fermentation workshops and coordinate meal preparation. Sandor’s friends will lead the building projects. Meka Bunch, an Asheville, NC-based earth builder and teacher, will facilitate the oven building. Other friends and neighbors of Sandor’s will facilitate other kitchen finishing projects..


This program will be held at Sandor’s fermentation school at Walnut Ridge, a restored 1820s log cabin. We are situated in a wooded area, and exploration is encouraged. Food is included in the program cost. Students are invited to camp at Walnut Ridge, or they may make other arrangements such as nearby Airbnb and motel options or friends. The cabin is down a dirt road and off-the-grid and amenities are comfortable but basic. The amount of electricity we have is dependent on how much sun we get, so time for charging personal devices may be limited.


With a full week to work with, this is a unique opportunity to watch ferments develop, with the benefit of tasting, observing, and learning about them with others as they progress. This is a chance to experiment with ferments you have always wanted to try, to discover new techniques with familiar ferments, and to explore their uses. It will be a lively and inspiring time for sharing ideas, methods, and experiences, and an opportunity to build community with people with similar interests. Over the week, we will do a variety of fermentation projects, including:

  • Fermenting vegetables
  • Alcoholic and lightly fermented beverages
  • Sourdough and other grain fermentations
  • Tempeh, koji, and miso
  • Yogurt
  • And possibly others, based upon the interests of participants.


Cost: Running these programs takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. The program includes camping, food, instruction, and varied activities. Yet I do not wish to ration space solely on the basis of ability to pay. I request a sliding scale fee of $400–1500 for the 7-day program. Please pay as much as you can afford to. I am open to partial barter or exchange, or willing to consider waiving the fee altogether for farmers or people engaged in activism around food justice issues.


We can get people to and from the Nashville airport or bus station (65 miles: $40 each way) or Murfreesboro bus station (25 miles: $25 each way).


Please Note: Sandor and many of his friends are queer (lesbian, gay, transgender, and so on). Please do not consider this program unless you feel comfortable around queers and gender-non-conformists.


To apply for the program, copy the following questions into an email, answer them as best you can, and email to sandorkraut@wildfermentation.com. Please be patient. We expect to collect applications through January; then we will review them and respond in February. If you are coming from abroad and need more time to obtain a visa, please let us know and we can try to respond more quickly. Please understand that generally there are many more applicants than we can accept. Thanks for your interest!



Application for Fermentation and Oven-Building Workshop




City, State, Zip:



Describe fermentation experience:

Describe why you want to be part of this residency and what you hope to gain from it:

Is there anything specific you are seeking to learn about?

What is your experience with working on group projects and/or how do you function in intensive group situations?

How would you envision yourself sharing this information with others?

Dietary restrictions?

How much can you offer to pay for the program?

If you are seeking a partial barter or alternative exchange, what skills or goods can you offer?


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4 thoughts on “Fermentation and Oven-Building Workshop

  1. Oven building question – is this going to be a traditional oven or more of a tandoor/tannour style? Or what style oven will it be? Very interested in wood/coal fired traditional ovens (for bread making and other projects)!!

    • Hi Charlie-
      We will build a “retained heat” oven. You build a fire inside the oven chamber which absorbs the heat, then take the fire out, and that heat cooks the food via conduction (direct contact with the firebrick floor and convection (radiant heat from the thermal mass of the oven dome).
      You can cook various foods based on temperature requirements…at first the oven will be super hot, so quick things like chapatis and pizzas go first, then progressing over time to things with lower temperatures & longer cooking times…all the way down to fruit leather and drying herbs.
      If higher temperature is required along the way, fire it up again to recharge the oven mass and/or leave coals pushed to the back of the oven to keep the temperature up.
      These are also called “batch ovens”.
      There are three main layers besides the firebrick oven floor:
      *Thermal Mass Dome- 4” thick, made from sand & clay sub-soil
      *Insulation Layer- 5” thick, made of perlite & clay sub-soil
      *Cob Outter Shell- 3” thick, made of clay sub-soil, sand, & straw

      Anyway, thanks for your interest. I hope I filled in some information for you.
      Meka 🙂
      Natural Building Instructor

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