A great metamorphosis lies behind the white velvet of this apple. The peculiar resemblance of culture and cultivation is expressed through the art of fermentation. The transformation of food through a fermentative process withholds a world of possibilities to modify the aromatic expression and texture potential of food.
In Mugaritz we explore different fermentation techniques, each has a particular ceremony and the results vary greatly from one to another. Perhaps the only element they all share is the main concept behind them. The detachment of the mold from the food which it usually ferments.
We use the bacteria Rhizopus oligosporus, which is traditionally used in Indonesia to ferment soy beans and make Tempeh, together with an emblematic ingredient of Basque culture: apples. After a 36 hour process, the mold transforms the whole structure of the apple using its natural sugar content and acidity to develop more complex aromas like those of flowers and tropical fruits. Furthermore, a white, velvety, hairy looking texture spawns from the fermenting apple and continues to grow until the whole process is finished.
The result is a rather strange looking apple which defies some and lures in the more adventurous. This new dish reminds us a lot of our “Edible Stones” because despite the first visual impression, which immediately leaves you taken aback, its inside is a surprisingly easy-to-eat mouthful. The familiarity of its flavors convinces even the most skeptical among us because its secret lies in its simplicity.
As a new dish, our fermented apple was presented in the 2013 edition of San Sebastian Gastronomika congress, however, fermentation has been present in many different civilizations over the course of history. Every one of them has handed down a legacy of culture which should be cultivated and passed along. We hope this new idea is not only a delight for the senses, but also inspiration for whoever might be looking for it.