You are currently viewing From soil to plate: making the most of seasonal produce
Yotam and Niva Kay's book uses a variety of fermenting and preserving techniques. Photo: SUPPLIED/ Aaron McLean

From soil to plate: making the most of seasonal produce

It’s one thing to grow vegetables in your own garden, but often making use of the produce can require some additional inspiration. 

Enter Kauaeranga Valley permaculture experts Yotam and Niva Kay. The pair’s latest book, The Abundant Kitchen is filled with recipes and techniques to preserve and transform the backyard harvest, from fermenting, pickling and preserving, to curing meat and making sourdough, vinegar, yoghurt, kombucha and more. 

Ad for Coromandel App and the Valley Profile

Although the recipes lean heavily on their Middle Eastern roots, they have taken inspiration from cuisines across the globe. Each recipe has been adapted to the variety of fruit and vegetables available in Kiwi gardens. 

“We’ve been doing these kinds of fermentation practices for nearly 20 years now and it’s just an integral part of our kitchen,” Yotam said. 

“Our main aim was to make it accessible, to make it easy, to make it comprehensible – and hopefully inspiring people to make more of these types of foods.”

The preservation techniques outlined in the book are cheap, easy and make use of seasonal produce – all practices the couple utilise in their own home. It’s part of the sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle they promote at their business, Pākaraka Permaculture. 

Yotam Kay makes mead from honey. Photo: SUPPLIED/Aaron McLean

It’s also a collaborative lifestyle. Yotam and Niva work closely with billions of tiny coworkers in their life-friendly garden, so it was a natural next step to showcase recipes that utilise live cultures and natural bacterial processes as well. 

“You’re looking at one million different types of species in one cubic centimetre of living soil. The complexity is just huge,” Yotam said. 

“Most of [our] recipes it’s just using things that are naturally in the air and creating conditions for them to colonise and transform the food, and doing that in a healthy way and a safe way.” 

“We want a living garden and we want a living ecosystem. We’re also gardening in the kitchen by creating these habitats that are life-friendly,” Niva added. 

“[The cultures are] not coming from nowhere, they’re there all the time and are all around us.” 

The Abundant Kitchen by Yotam and Niva Kay is available now from or local bookshops.