Fermented – Behind the Scenes

This review has been a long time coming. Longer than most, in fact, because we photographed Fermented (by Jill Ciciarelli). Fair warning now, this couldn’t possibly be an unbiased review because A) Jill is our friend, and B) We photographed  this book. Although, rather than write a “review” of sorts, we thought it would be more fun to give a behind the scenes look at our small role in helping to create Fermented. Okay, it’s really just the photography. When we first started talking to Jill about her potential book, naturally we offered to take the photos. What we were not prepared for was how thorough Jill was going to be with things.

For 6 weeks in a row, we would go to her high rise condo in the city (Pittsburgh, for those wondering), set up the camera, and shoot for 3-4 hours straight. Under normal circumstances, that would mean accomplishing 4-6 recipes. Not for Jill though. In that span of time, we would get anywhere from 10-15 recipe photos done. The pace was incredible, and her very systematic approach certainly shows in this book. She was prepared, excited, grateful for our help, all of which showed how respectful she was of our time. Not to say we wouldn’t have done it if she was different about the whole process, because we love her and of course would have, but this is just to explain to you the type of person Jill is. She is hard working, passionate, considerate, loving, and kind. Many of you may know already that Jill was our officiant for our wedding. When we first started dating Hayley told her, “We want you to marry us one day!” If you ask Hayley she will say Jill gave her a slightly odd look, but said “of course.” Because, well, who wouldn’t give someone an odd look if they had been dating someone for a week and mentioned marriage. For our entire relationship, that thought never changed. Jill is our good friend, and was the perfect person to stand in front of all of our friends and family and unite us as one. Of course, she was perfect. The ceremony was everything we could have dreamed. It was one of the best parts of our wedding, and that was because Jill lead the whole thing.

Anyway, back to her fabulous book. Here are some behind the scenes shots from Instagram, and the corresponding photos from her book!

spices spread - fermented

In this shot, Jill wanted to show the spices for making Corned Beef (pg 137). One of the things I like about shooting real food is the beauty of it. Citrus, herbs, and spices all have such great color and symmetry, so it’s not hard at all to make it look good.

fermented foods

We used her window sill as a staging area for the foods during the shoot. Some of these had already been shot, and some needed to still go. We got a lot of great shots on her 23rd story window. Many of these impromptu shots made it into the book, which slightly broke up the ‘studio-shot’ character of the staged photos, yet kept to the high brow theme. With food photography, it’s all staged, but we love when there’s a chance to get a spur of the moment, creative photo. Here’s another one we all liked:

fermented paleo foods

90% of the book was shot on less than $15 worth of white foam core poster board. Trade secret… shhh.
fermented limes setup shot

knives on cutting board - fermented

This shot was one of the hardest to get in the book. Shooting the air lock against the white poster board wasn’t cutting it, so we set up this funky gray cloth in the background to help it stand out. It didn’t get much trickier than this, fortunately.  … And this reminds me, I need to try this recipe asap! (Hard Apple Cider – Pg 126)

fermented hard cider


Naturally, one of the most popular recipe in the book is for Kombucha, as many Paleo folks are familiar with this gut-healthy drink. This sweet and fizzy probiotic beverage is great for digestion and easy to make. We had a bit of trouble with the first two batches we made, and here’s why. For the first batch, we tried to revive an old and very tired SCOBY. It made kombucha (sort of), but it was pretty weak and unexciting. (By the way, the lights help the fermentation process).


After that failure, we went down to get a piece of one of Jill’s super-SCOBYs. This thing was over 1″ thick (it was just a small wedge), and formed an odd looking new SCOBY (at first) on our second batch. We were reluctant to try it, until the SCOBY really grew thick. By that time, the batch wasn’t even close to being sweet because it fermented too long.

For the third batch, everything went smoothly and we were rewarded with kick-ass kombucha! For this batch, we brewed organic green tea to start, and then flavored the second fermentation with berries and ginger. The recipe below blends Jill’s recipe from her book (You should buy it!), and our flavoring.





We had a wonderful time helping Jill with this book. She is really the fermentation queen, and we were cheering her on the whole time because we were so excited for this book to be published. Fermented is a great combination of recipes and information, so if you want to really learn about fermentation (which of course we would all suggest you do), this is the perfect book to read. If you already know all about fermentation, and just want some fabulous fermentation recipes, then this is the book for you as well!


{Be sure to follow Jill on Facebook for more fermentation tips and tricks.}


Gingerberry Kombucha

This recipe can be easily scaled up or down to suit your needs. We typically double the batch and make 2 gallons at a time. You can find this recipe and other amazing fermentation recipes in Jill Ciciarelli's book, Fermented - Available on Amazon and in most book stores.

Serves: 12

Serves: 12decrease servingsincrease servings


  • 1 gallon 1 gallon Water
  • 8 8 Green Tea, bags
  • 1 cup 1 cup Sugar, Raw, scant cup, plus additional sugar for the second ferment.
  • 1 1 SCOBY, (Active Culture)
  • 1 cup 1 cup Kombucha, (Starter Tea)
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup Raspberries, Organic, 3-4 per bottle, for second ferment
  • 1 Tbsp 1 Tbsp Ginger Root, 1 small chunk per bottle, for second ferment
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 cup Blueberries, A few per bottle, for second ferment


Note, these instructions are written assuming the standard serving size, since you have modified the number of servings, these steps may need to be modified for best results
  1. Pour the water into the pot and bring to just shy of a boil (about 200 degrees.)
  2. Place the tea bags into the near-boiling water.
  3. Brew tea for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, and remove tea bags, squeezing out the excess water.
  4. Add the sugar while the tea is still very hot and stir until completely dissolved.
  5. Allow the tea to cool completely (this is very important).
  6. Pour the tea into the glass vessel. Hot tea will kill the SCOBY, so make sure the tea is room temperature.
  7. Add the SCOBY and starter kombucha.
  8. Cover the vessel with the cloth and secure it with a large rubber band or twine.
  9. Place the vessel in a well-ventilated, warm, dry place that is not too dark (near a window, on top of your refrigerator, etc.) Light and warmth encourage fermentation. Your kombucha will produce a new SCOBY in the process.
  10. Next, you wait. Kombucha can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to ferment. Check its progress after a week.
  11. To judge doneness, you can either go with taste or science. Tasting the kombucha is an easy way to decide whether it has fermented to the point of your liking. The other way is to test the kombucha's pH. If it is between 4.0 and 5.0, then it is finished.
  12. Transfer the kombucha to small, sealable glass jars (used kombucha containers work perfectly!) These need to be air-tight. Leave a little bit of kombucha and your SCOBYs in the vessel for future kombucha making.
  13. Add 1 tsp of raw sugar, the fruit, and the ginger to the jars and seal them tightly.
  14. Allow the kombucha to go througha second fermentation, which typically takes 3-5 days.
  15. Taste the kombucha to see if you like the taste. Open it carefully, as it will be fizzy. Transfer the remaining bottles to a refrigerator, which will halt the fermentation process. Enjoy within a few weeks.


You'll need a large pot, a wooden spoon, a 1-gallon glass vessel, a large cloth (part of an old, clean t-shirt works great), a big rubber band or butchers twine, and small glass jars or bottles. During the first and second fermentation process, you'll get additional SCOBYs forming on your kombucha. This is natural and a good sign! Do not worry if you ingest any part of these. It will not harm you in any way!

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    1. Laurie
      May 17, 2015

      I am new to this so where can I buy SCOBY?

      1. May 17, 2015

        It looks like you can buy them online! Give Amazon a shot! 🙂

        Here’s a complete starter kit: http://amzn.to/1FiqYap

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