We cannot write-off pasteurized ferments as the dead, less healthy cousin to its unpasteurized, live relative. All fermented foods provide health benefits, pasteurized or not. We also need to avoid getting caught up in superfluous health claims around fermentation’s benefits. Instead, we should focus on including fermentation as part of a regular diet.
David Zilber explored how the microbial transformation of food intersects with our gut microbes during Stanford University’s Center for Human Microbiome Studies Fermentation & Health Speaker Series. With growing scientific interest in fermentation – and increasing interest from consumers – the health benefits become cloudy in marketing claims.
“If you eat regularly foods full of life, life that lives regularly in the foods you consume but also inside of you, then you can be said to be a ranger taking care of a healthy forest,” Zilber said. “The health benefits of fermented foods should equally be viewed as being meaningful when they turn into a regimen, like exercise.”
A 2021 study by Stanford researchers published in the journal Cell found regularly eating fermented foods boost microbiome diversity, improves immune response and decreases inflammation. But marketing of fermented products is often shrouded in hearsay.
“As far as health claims go…(there are) sometimes outlandish claims made by Westerners about cure-all superfoods that disproportionately, and I quote from one study I found, ‘Seemed to benefit the individuals that sell them the most,’” Zilber said.
Take kombucha, for example. He rattled off a list of health problems kombucha founders have claimed the fermented tea has cured, from AIDS to cancer to constipation.
“The problem is that all these claims seem to come, in one form or another, from anecdotes of people who drink kombucha and have lived a life,” he added. They’re not researched in reputable cohort studies. “This is why it’s sometimes hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to fermentation. The people who want to believe the benefits only decry its Praises when a positive correlation is made but they also tend to speak the loudest.”
Zilber pointed out that consuming fermented foods, whether or not it’s a product with proven health benefits, is certainly still beneficial. Eating fermented foods regularly means “you’re also omitting a whole slew of other foods” prevalent in a Western diet, like highly-processed and chemically-preserved foods.
“If you put kimchi on your plate at dinner, you leave off mashed potatoes. If you use water kefir as your drink with it, you aren’t drinking Coke,” he said. “And that’s an important link we also can’t forget, when it comes to thinking about the health benefits of fermented foods, they are in many means inherently healthy.”
Many cultures have fermented for thousands of years to preserve food. In Tibet, yak herders rely on cultural wisdom passed down from generations to ferment yak’s milk for milk and butter.
“We’ve evolved alongside our microbes both evolutionarily and culturally,” Zilber added. “To Tibetans their folk knowledge of what leads them to Long lives and health is intrinsically tied to the practices of preservation that have allowed them to thrive in some of the most rarified air on Earth.”
Pasteurized vs. Unpasteurized
What about purchasing pasteurized vs. unpasteurized ferments? Unpasteurized ferments include live microbes, but that doesn’t mean pasteurized ferments aren’t healthy.
“Sometimes in cooking, if you’re looking to achieve a great flavor, sometimes you have to kill microbes because you have to pasteurize them for whatever number of reasons,” Zilber added. But it doesn’t mean that the food is somehow not worth eating, it just means that it’s not live, but it still contains lots of benefits. … There is a benefit to consuming something that microbes have lived through, even if it’s not pasteurized.”
Elisa Caffrey, the speaker series host and a Stanford PhD candidate, agrees. The benefits of unpasteurized ferments have not been studied. During fermentation, Caffrey notes, the microbes are producing metabolites still present during pasteurization. A complete study would characterize the metabolites over the course of the fermentation process, identify chemical compounds and then analyze the compounds for their benefits.
“That landscape we don’t understand at all and it’s a very, very interesting world to start exploring,” she said. “Until we start understanding all the different components of these foods and the way that they interact with not only the microbes in fermented foods with each other but also with the body, it’s really hard to then make these very generalized health claims.”
Caffrey, Zilber and Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford, host the Fermentation & Health Speaker Series. The series will explore the topic over the next few months with different speakers ranging from a scientist, food researcher and pickle producer. Registration is free.
Evident of the desire to help local businesses bounce back from the pandemic, the remainder of food legislation passed in 2022 was aimed at helping businesses — especially brewers. Outdated alcohol beverage laws revamped in many states and many cottage food producers can sell homemade food with less restrictions.
In our last newsletter, we shared the food and beverage laws passed in the first half of the United States in 2022. The list below completes the balance of the country — Massachusetts to Wyoming.
HB4232 — Aids small businesses in filling labor shortages in restaurants by expanding eligible workforce to allow 17-year-olds to waitstaff to sell and serve alcohol.
HB5695 — Amends Michigan Liquor Control Code to allow a minor employee who is at least 16 years old to build a display of certain brands of alcohol, mark the price on those brands, rotate them and place them on shelves.
HB5696 — Amends the Youth Employment Standards Act to allow a minor to be issued a work permit for employment with an establishment where alcoholic beverages are distributed.
HB5744 — Codifies the licensure and regulation of certain persons engaged in processing, manufacturing, production, packing, preparing, repacking, canning, preserving, freezing, fabricating, storing, selling, serving, or offering for sale food or drink for human consumption;
HB5747 — Allows for a certificate of free sale from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) for milk and dairy products.
HB6105 — Allows alcohol wholesalers to distribute non-alcoholic beverages to retailers and allows use of electronic coupons under certain circumstances.
HB6106 — Allows wineries and breweries to make and sell private label products.
HB5984 — Allows the consumption and service of food, beverages and alcohol in public swimming pools.
SB656 — An act to create a commission for the control of the alcoholic beverage traffic within this state.
HB918 — Creates a Food Truck Permit under the local alcoholic beverage control law, allowing food truck vendors to sell alcoholic beverages.
SB2844 — Provides funding to construct the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control Warehouse.
SB3008 — Makes several changes to Minnesota’s liquor laws. Known as the “Free the Growler” bill, the new law raises the cap on growler sales. It also allows more off-sale options for smaller breweries and expands license opportunities for specific cities and events.
HB684 — The state’s Small Business and Grocer Investment Act. Develops quality retail food outlets for jobs, expands markets for Mississippi farmers, supports economic vitality in underserved communities. Increases access to retail food outlets that sell fresh and healthy food. Provides a dedicated source of financing for healthy food retailers in Mississippi.
HB1135 — Allows home delivery of alcoholic beverages from licensed retailers.
SB3015 — Earmarks funds for the State Department of Agriculture and Commerce, including costs of the Farmers Central Market.
HB1697 — Allows cottage food producers to sell food over the internet. Removes the $50,000 annual sales limit for cottage food producers.
HB314 — Raises the maximum annual gross sales of food by a homestead or cottage food operation from $20,000 to $35,000.
HB1039 — Amends alcohol law, allowing beverage manufacturers to sell beers made on-site to state-based wholesalers.
HB1584 — Establishes a capital improvement grant program for the benefit of state fairs and agricultural fairs.
SB17 — Allows dogs in outdoor dining areas.
SB212 — Lowers liquor license fee to $300 (from $1,692) for brewers selling less than 1,000 cases of liquor per year.
AB462 — Permits pedicabs to operate while passengers are consuming alcoholic beverages.
AB3991 — Exempts raw, unprocessed honey from the health department’s cottage food regulations.
AB2344 — Requires food service establishments to post food allergens at restaurants and in food ordering services.
AB3954 — Establishes New York State Council on Food Policy. Establishes policies to help New Yorkers avoid food insecurity and eat as much New York-grown and produced food as possible. Supports growth of a New York-based local farm and food product economy to revitalize rural, suburban and urban farms.
AB8620 — Authorizes a licensee to sell wine for consumption on the premises to also include the sale and consumption of shochu (Japanese alcoholic beverage).
AB10176 — Allows alcohol license holders to sell liquor at off-premise catering establishments.
SB771 — Amends the Nourish New York program to define products as those grown, produced, harvested, butchered, canned or freezed in New York.
SB5438 — Amends alcohol beverage control law to authorize tastings at licensed premises by distillers.
SB7655 — Amends the definition of New York State-labeled beer to require that at least 60%, by weight, of its hops and at least 60% of any other ingredients are grown in New York.
SB7823 — Creates an advisory group which will produce a report on improving urban and rural consumer access to locally produced, healthy foods.
SB8989 — Authorizes the manufacture of beer, spirits, cider, wine and mead at the Culinary Institute of America.
SB9093 — Amends alcohol beverage control law to allow parcels of land to the list of premises which are exempt from the law’s provisions. Restricts manufacturers/wholesalers and retailers from sharing an interest in a liquor license.
SB9385 — Amends alcohol beverage control law to allow a restaurant located within 200 feet of a school to serve alcohol.
HB768 — The 2022 ABC Omnibus, decreases regulations on bar owners and expands the freedom of alcohol sales and transportations. Eliminates the $1 membership requirement for people at visiting private bars.
SB762 — North Carolina Farm Act of 2022.
HB629 — Increases microdistillery production limits and allows spirituous liquor tasting samples at agency stores free of charge.
SB102 — Modifies Ohio’s liquor laws. Eases restrictions on local homebrewers and fermenters, exempting them from certain liquor law permits. Allows homebrewers to make beer or wine without a liquor permit, serving it on private property for personal consumption. Homebrewers cannot sell homemade beer or wine. Permits a person under the age of 18 to handle beer and liquor at a hotel, bar or restaurant. Eliminates provision that more than 30% of a restaurant gift card could not be used to purchase alcohol. Authorizes a retail liquor permit holder to sell beer or liquor on Sunday. Allows charitable or political organizations to give away beer or liquor as a prize at a raffle or auction.
SB269 — Allows a mixed-beverage licensee selling wine, beer or cocktails to-go to provide a different price than they do for drinks that are served on premises.
SB757 — Allows for small brewer and small farm wineries to deliver alcohol.
HB1615 — Allows breweries to sell malt or brewers beverages to non-licensees and licensees that also sell malt or brewers beverages. Allows all liquor license holders to offer amplified sound in their establishment (previously only allowed for wineries).
HB7095 — Part of the “Take It Outside” campaign, allows restaurants to continue approved outdoor dining, which was originally approved only for the pandemic. Extends moratorium on municipal enforcement of outdoor dining requirements.
HB7209 — Eliminates sunset date on the law that allowed takeout drinks. The new law now permanently allows Class B liquor license holders and brewpubs to sell distilled spirits with takeout orders.
HB7438 — The Toxic Packaging Reduction Act, prohibits food packaging with PFAS intentionally added in any amount from being manufactured, knowingly sold or distributed in Rhode Island, as of Jan. 1, 2024.
HB1322 — Expands definition of cottage food to include all shelf-stable foods, and even some foods requiring refrigeration, provided the seller completes regular food-safety training. Cottage food producers will still be required to label items with a product name, the name of the producer and a disclaimer that it wasn’t produced in a commercial kitchen.
SB101 — Allows any person 19 years or older, who is certified by a nationally recognized alcohol management program, to draw, pour, mix, serve and sell alcoholic beverages if the licensee is at least 21 years of age and on the premise when the alcohol is being served.
SB188 — Allows for unlicensed businesses to store alcoholic beverages.
HB1688 — Creates a common carrier license to be issued by the alcoholic beverage commission to a person or corporation that transports alcoholic beverages for a fee.
SB693 — Enacts the Tennessee Food Freedom Act, specifying circumstances when persons may sell certain homemade food products. Allows people to sell shelf-stable food products without a license, as long as they don’t require temperature control.
SB2270 — Authorizes a special occasion license to designate an area in which liquor-by-the-drink licensees may sell alcoholic beverages and beer to patrons who may consume the alcoholic beverages and beer anywhere in the designated area. Authorizes a festival operator licensee to provide a list of the liquor-by-the-drink licensees that will sell alcoholic beverages and beer to patrons in the designated area of the festival.
HB142 — Allows wild game to be donated to food banks and charitable organizations.
HB426 — Creates a third-party delivery license that authorizes the licensee to deliver alcoholic beverages purchased by consumers from other retail licensees.
HB837 — Requires any food manufacturer, food storage warehouse, and retail food establishment to obtain a permit from the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services prior to operating.
HB1336 — Convenes a working group from representatives of the state’s alcoholic beverage control authority, Virginia Wineries Association, the Virginia Wine Wholesalers Association, the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association, and the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild and other relevant stakeholders to address various needs, including evaluating the number of barrels of beer allowed under a license and reviewing distributing through the Virginia Winery Distribution Company.
SB146 — Guarantees that State Board of Health regulations should not require an establishment that only sells prepared foods to have a certified food protection manager on site during all hours of operation.
SB315 — Increases the amount of alcoholic beverages that can be transported through the state from one gallon to three gallons.
SB519 — Authorizes sale and service of alcoholic beverages for casinos.
HB1145 — Allows non-wood, renewable fiber in 2 recycled content paper carryout bags.
HB1359 — In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, reduces liquor licensing fees temporarily.
SB5619 — Conserves and restores kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in Washington State.
Though research about the gut-brain axis is a “growing, pioneering and still relatively novel field,” scientists say humans can improve their mental health by eating a balanced diet rich in fermented foods.
Changes in the gut microbiome can impact the brain’s behavior. Research advancements in the last 20 years “suggest that these (gut) microorganisms aren’t just a vital part of our physical selves, but also our mental and emotional selves, too.” This can be a major breakthrough in how mental health is treated.
For example, one study found individuals with depression have different gut bacteria compared to individuals without depression. Those without depression have a higher amount of bacteria associated with better wellbeing and quality of life. Antidepressants didn’t help. Another study found taking certain probiotic strains improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. And yet another study found taking prebiotics improved the brain’s cognitive function.
But research is still in its early stages. Though some strains of bacteria have been scientifically proven “to have a positive effect on the human mind,” researchers don’t know why and how. Genetics, personality and environmental factors have also not been studied. More large-scale human studies are needed – and those studies are extremely expensive.
In the meantime, John Cryan, a professor of anatomy and neuroscience at University College Cork, encourages people to eat a diet high in fiber, prebiotics and fermented foods. A study by Cryan and his colleagues found that diet
Cryan and his colleagues studies 45 people eating that diet and found they were less stressed than the control group.
“What I like about fermented foods is that they democratize the science,” says Cryan. “They don’t really cost much and you don’t have to get them from some fancy store. You can do it yourself. In this field, we want to provide mental health solutions to people from all socioeconomic areas.”
Read more (BBC)
Arizona-based kombucha brand All About the Booch is shutting down after five years, citing the pandemic and inflation. Co-owner Shelley Aul opened up about the decision, shining a light on the struggles of running a small, craft fermentation business.
“I really think if the pandemic hadn’t happened, we might not be closing,” Aul says. She shared why the brand was closing in a series of Instagram videos on the brand’s page. “We were on this trajectory going into 2020 and when the pandemic hit, it completely stunted our growth. And we’ve struggled to come back from that.”
Supply prices increased astronomically since the brand first launched. In 2017, the 16 ounce, clear, glass bottles used to sell their fermented tea cost 33 cents each. Today, they are 96 cents each. Aul points out that’s just the cost of the bottle, not the label, lid, seal, tea or fruit. Those prices went up, too, as did other business expenses, like insurance and gas.
“We can only adjust our pricing so much before we’re too high for you to be able to buy our kombucha,” Aul says. “It got to a point where we don’t really feel comfortable raising our prices again and we’re making less and less with our sales.”
Sales revenue has changed in that time. All About the Booch was an early adopter of Arizona-brewed kombucha, scoring several large accounts in 2019 with keg sales at offices, restaurants, bars and stadiums. The Aul’s were expecting double the sales in 2020 – but then the pandemic hit. And sales took a huge dip.
They switched to consumer sales at farmers markets, which “honestly saved us. We had a great experience in the farmers markets, we recoupled a lot of those initial losses.”
But, 2-3 years after the pandemic started, their wholesale accounts are not coming back. Aul says she couldn’t pin the reasoning to one thing – she assumes wholesalers are struggling or the economy is bad – but it became “really inconsistent and hard to depend on.”
Aul, who ran the brand with her husband Duane, notes their personal life changed, too. Aul kept her corporate job while building All About the Booch, working an additional 20-30 hours after her 40 hours a week job on the kombucha side hustle. “We realized we want to spend our time differently,” she says, adding she hopes to travel and enjoy her kids more without the pressure of the kombucha brand.
The All About the Booch account will still be active as the Aul’s transition from commercial brewers to home brewers.
Two-and-a-half years into the Covid-19 pandemic, state legislators continue to pass laws aiming to aid food businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Bills passed in the 2022 legislative session further loosen the reins on the archaic alcohol laws that dominate state alcohol departments, permanently adopt formerly temporary laws aimed to help restaurants survive the pandemic, expand cottage food laws for the growing amount of home-based producers and help farmers by setting standards on the amount of local, farm-grown produce public institutions need to be purchasing.
More states are also aiming to become more green, banning PFAS food packaging, limiting single-serving utensils and requiring produce checkout bags to be compostable.
Below are the key food, beverage and food service laws passed in 2022. They are listed alphabetically in this article, Alabama through Maryland. We’ll feature the balance of the states — Massachusetts to Wyoming — in TFA’s next newsletter (January 25, 2023).
SB22 — Allows retail establishments to serve wine for off-premise consumption, redacting the former bill that only allows for wine to be consumed on-site.
SB9 — A comprehensive overhaul of the state’s 40-year-old alcohol licensing statute. Allows the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABC) to issue licenses to government entities and tribal groups. The modernization eliminates bureaucratic red tape by extending tasting room operating hours, allows live concerts at taprooms and allows small communities to track mail and online alcohol sales to eliminate bootlegging.
HB298 — Establishes a task force on Alaska’s food systems and sovereignty.
SB1248 — Deems it unlawful for a supplier to coerce a wholesaler to accept a delivery of beer that was not ordered or canceled.
HB2660 — Updates liquor licensing procedures.
AB 257 — Known as the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, it establishes the state’s first Fast Food Council to establish minimum standards on wages, working hours and health-, safety- and welfare-related conditions.
AB778 — Requires state institutions to purchase 60% California-grown food, in season.
AB1825 — Standardizes regulations regarding shipment and transport of California fruit, nut and vegetables.
AB2971 — Allows beer manufacturers to give up to five cases of retail advertising glassware to an on-sale retail licensee.
SB490 — The Buy American Food Act. Requires all state public institutions that receive federal reimbursements for meals to only purchase food products grown, packed or processed in the United States.
SB793 — Allows the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue a music venue license that would allow the licensee to sell beer, wine and distilled spirits at the entertainment facility.
SB 982 — Creates a certified organic apple program for apples grown in California.
SB 972 — Modifies the California Retail Food Code, allowing sidewalk food vendors to obtain public health permits. The new Compact Mobile Food Operation (CMFO) is defined as a non-motorized push-cart, stand, rack or display, pedal-driven cart or wage that must be cleaned and stored daily.
SB1013 — Adds wine and distilled spirits to the state’s recycling container redemption program.
SB1046 — Requires pre-checkout, produce bags in grocery stores to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
SB1370 — Authorizes a theater company and a nonprofit radio broadcasting company that holds a license to sell and serve alcohol to also sell alcohol two hours before and one hour after the event.
HB1017 — Increases the amount of alcohol beverages brought into the state that would be exempt from taxes.
HB5146 — Act Concerning Food Donation, makes it easier for supermarkets to donate their edible surplus produce or other food items to food relief organizations that are in need.
HB5271 — Extends temporary provisions put in place during Covid-19 for temporary outdoor food and beverage services.
SB187 — Increases maximum gross sales for cottage food operations from $25,000 to $50,000.
HB46 — Permits brewery-pub and microbrewery license holders to brew, bottle and sell hard seltzers and other fermented beverages made from malt substitutes. Formerly, license holders could not brew hard seltzers or other non-malt based products without obtaining a Federal Brewer’s Notice.
HB81 — Allows two or more microbreweries to share brewing equipment if the microbreweries maintain separate premises to sell their product to consumers and wholesalers.
HB98 — Allows importers to take orders from retailers any day including Sundays and holidays and process them for delivery.
HB143 — Removes taprooms from the list of establishments that a commissioner can refuse to grant an alcohol license to when there is an existing licensed establishment of similar type within a specified distance.
HB226 — Extends immunity from civil or criminal liability to those who donate food to nonprofit organizations. Includes those who donate perishable food and wild game.
HB289 — Allows liquor stores, farm wineries, brewery-pubs, microbreweries, craft distilleries and wine auctions to provide curbside service. Sales are prohibited to intoxicated persons or persons under 21 years of age.
HB290 — Permanently removes the sunset provision of House Bill 1 that allowed food and drink establishments who suffered loss during the Covid-19 pandemic to continue selling alcoholic beverages in take-out, curbside or drive-through services — and to use outdoor seating for serving food and drinks.
HB427 — Allows persons 14 and 15 years old to be employed in places where alcoholic beverages are served, but not selling or serving alcohol.
HB463 — Amends current alcohol law, allowing a person 18 years or older to enter a tavern or taproom to pick up a food order for delivery through a third-party delivery service. Also allows a person 18 years or older to work in a tavern or taproom selling or serving alcohol as long as they’re not preparing alcohol.
SB46 — Amends current alcohol law, permitting wedding venues and other rental venues licensed as a bottle club to allow customers to bring alcoholic beverages
SB304 — Corrects code related to the regulation of seeds sold in the state.
SB334 — Allows restaurants that sell ice cream containing up to 10% alcohol by volume to sell such ice cream without the requirement to purchase at least $10 of food.
HB1175 — The Georgia Raw Dairy Act. Authorizes and regulates the production, handling, transporting and sale of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption. It also provides standards for safety, cleanliness and health for such products and animals producing them.
HB1443 — Allows mobile food service establishments that have active permits to operate in the state state, not just the county of origin as the bill previously allowed.
SB396 — Renames Georgia State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to the Georgia Grown Farm to Food Bank Program (F2FB). It requires food procured to be Georgia grown.
HB1568 — Requires public institutions to ensure a certain percentage of food purchased for public schools, youth campuses, public hospitals, public prisons and University of Hawaii system academic programs consists of fresh, local agricultural products. Requires an annual benchmark report from public institutions on their efforts.
SB335 — Requires the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to annually lease at least 50% of land leased or up for lease renewal to operations whose primary business is, or supports, local food production.
SB2331 — Expands the definition of “beer” under the state’s liquor tax and liquor regulatory laws to specify that the term includes an alcohol by volume of no less than 0.5% and alcohol seltzer beverages.
SB2992 — Establishes the Hawaii agricultural investment program to support local agricultural producers.
SB2960 — Requires the Department of Agriculture to partner with Hawaii’s agricultural community to establish and implement a food safety certification training program to help small- to medium-sized farms comply with federal food safety certification mandates.
SB3197 — Establishes a farmer apprentice mentorship program, encouraging young farmers in the state.
SB 2664 — Protects agricultural lands that grow taro, a native crop to Hawaii. Fermented taro is used to make poi, a popular Polynesian dish.
HB646 — Expands definition of alcoholic beverages to include mead, cider and other fermented fruit juice beverages for personal use and to provide for the use and storage of homemade beer, wine and other fermented beverages at licensed premises.
HB744 — Allows distillers to donate their own liquor to charity, previously an illegal act.
HB209 — Creates the Latex Glove Ban Act, banning use of latex gloves for use in commercial food prep.
HB2382 — Creates the Healthy Food Program Development Act, expanding access to healthy foods in eligible areas in the State by providing assistance to grocery stores, corner stores, farmers’ markets and other small food retailers.
SB3838 — Amends the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act. Provides that a farmer who sells meat, poultry, eggs or dairy products from the premises of the farmer’s farm is exempt from licensing by the farmer’s local health department under specified conditions. Provides that local health departments may issue Farmers’ Market Retail Permits for the sale of products at farmers’ markets and at semi-permanent events.
HB1149 — Expands the cottage food law by allowing all direct sales of almost all nonperishable foods made by home-based vendors (except acidified canned goods), including online sales and in-state shipping. Requires an individual who sells poultry, rabbits, and eggs at a farmers’ market or roadside stand to comply with certain requirements.
HB1298 — Provides the alcohol and tobacco commission may not require physical separation between a bar area and a dining area in a food hall. Creates a temporary craft manufacturer hospitality permit that allows a craft manufacturer to participate in a convention, trade show, exposition or similar event on the licensed premises of a particular host permittee.
HF2431 — Updates Iowa’s cottage food laws from “home bakeries” to “home food processing establishments.” Allows cottage food producers to sell most types of homemade food, including acidified canned goods, meat and poultry. Also allows cottage food businesses to sell online and ship products. Increases the sale limit for home food processors from $35,000 to $50,000.
SF2290 — Creates the Dairy Processing and Milk Production Innovation and Revitalization program, to aid the dairy industry in recovering from the pandemic and expand career opportunities and industry development in rural Iowa. Creates an artisanal dairy study to explore establishing an artisanal dairy processing program at a community college or university.
SF2374 — Overhaul of Iowa’s liquor licensing classifications. Allows Class C liquor licenses to purchase up to five cases of beer, high alcohol content beer or canned cocktails at any retailer, every 24 hours. It also includes Sunday Sales privileges on all Class C licenses. Includes fines for third-party food delivery services that use a restaurant’s logo or menu without permission. Also changes how Iowans can redeem beer and soda cans and bottles to collect nickel deposits.
SB2 — Allows consumption of beer, wine or other alcoholic liquor on the Kansas state fairgrounds. Increases the number of temporary permits an applicant may receive from four to 12 permits per year.
SB346 — Allows on-farm sales of raw milk, with a label identifying the product as unpasteurized.
HB252 — Amends alcohol law to lower the minimum server age of employees to 18 and to exclude persons under the age of 20 from bartending.
HB500 — Modernizes Kentucky alcohol laws to aid the state’s thriving bourbon industry. Legalizes sales of barrel-aged and batched cocktails, a practice formerly not authorized in Kentucky since the alcohol was not poured from its original container. Authorizes private barrel selection events, allows distillers to sell exclusive bottles on-site at distillery gift shops, authorizes distilleries to open a satellite tasting room and allows distillers to offer complimentary samples and sell bottles at fairs, festivals and farmer’s markets.
HR15 — A resolution recognizing March 22, 2022, as National Agriculture Day.
HR21 — A resolution recognizing October 12, 2022, as National Farmers Day.
HR31 — A resolution recognizing May 2022 as National Beef Month in Kentucky.
HR35 — A resolution recognizing June 2022 as National Dairy Month.
HB370 — Allows for self-distribution of beer or other malt beverages by in-state brewers.
HB523 — Allows licensed manufacturers or brewers of alcoholic beverages to host contracted private events at brewing facilities.
HB828 — Updates the state’s cottage food law, increasing the gross annual sales threshold under which a home-based preparer of low-risk foods may qualify for the protections of the statute known commonly as the cottage food law.
HB829 — Updates third-party alcoholic beverage delivery laws to clarify the delivery distance radius, necessary permits and penalties.
HR 78 — A resolution asking Congress to require the Food and Drug Administration to fulfill its duties related to the inspection and testing of imported seafood and to support the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act. Collaboratively, these efforts would help restore economic opportunities for Louisiana’s fishing industries, protect the health of consumers, and make the international seafood trade safer for workers
SB450 — Allows a licensed wholesaler to transfer beverages between microbreweries.
LD1503 — Prohibits the use of toxic “forever chemicals” called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in various products, including food packaging and cookware.
HB 178 — Alters the definition of cottage food business to increase the cap on the annual revenues from the sale of cottage food products from $25,000 to $50,000.
HB275 — Prohibits a person from manufacturing, selling or distributing products with PFAS chemicals in the state of Maryland, including in food packaging.
SB569 — Extends the application dates of certain provisions related to certain holders of Class 4 limited winery licenses.
Plenty of anecdotal evidence lauds sourdough as the healthier bread alternative for those with wheat or gluten intolerance, but there is little research providing data on the topic. Now new research proves the longer a sourdough ferments, the better the bread.
Sourdough is a fermented bread fortified with dietary fibers, increased mineral bioavailability, lower glycemic index and improved protein digestibility compared to its unfermented counterparts. And, as more people shun traditional bread because of a wheat or gluten intolerance, sourdough is increasing in popularity.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota are studying the effects of dough fermentation and wheat varieties to create a bread that’s easier to digest. They found the longer fermentation time makes a more digestible bread. The results, published in November in the Journal of Cereal Science, found a 12 hour ferment versus a four hour ferment dramatically reduces the short-chain carbohydrates that aren’t absorbed properly in the gut.
“Wheat sensitivity seems to be getting worse,” says James Anderson (pictured, left), professor and wheat breeder at the University of Minnesota and one of the study authors. “The motivation for me as a wheat breeder to get involved in this research is the wheat sensitivity issue.”
Those short-chain carbs – FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) and ATIs (amylase/trypsin-inhibitors) – are what causes digestive problems in some people.
“There is evidence to document that sourdough processing or fermentation in general is able to reduce these FODMAPs and ATIs,” said George Annor (pictured, right), a professor of cereal chemistry and technology at the University of Minnesota and another of the study’s authors.
While fermentation time makes a difference in digestibility of sourdough, so do wheat varieties. Ancient grains such as Einkorn and Emmer performed well, same with the modern Linkert variety.
Though the study proves sourdough and other slow-rising breads can help those who are sensitive to wheat, the modern baking industry is dominated by sped up processing techniques. Like most commercial breads, frozen pizza crust and other convenience foods. Annor says he wants “them to keep those processes as much as they can,” but using a better wheat variety will aid digestibility.
“There’s more that we don’t know about fermentation than we do know, and it’s a wonderfully complex world,” says Brian LaPlante, a fellow Minnesotan and owner of Back When Foods.
LaPlante and his wife began making their own sourdough with ancient grains from his brother’s farm when LaPlante’s son began experiencing digestive problems. By incorporating sourdough and other fermented foods into his diet, his son’s health dramatically improved. LaPlante started his business Back When Foods that develops slow food with less processing – and hooked up with Anderson and Annor to help with their research. LaPlante provided the dough samples of varying ferment times that the UofM analyzed for their study.
“When you have fermented food in your diet, it has a profound impact on your microbiome,” he adds. “And I think that will be the trend, is food will become your medicine again.”
Wild food expert Pascal Baudar says the fact that we can buy tomatoes in the store year round “is freaky.” We should be eating food in season, and we’re ignoring the plethora of sustainable cuisine available in nature, edible food hikers overlook and cities destroy.
“One of the things I started realizing doing foraging is it’s really about food preservation techniques,” says Baudar, author of four books on traditional food preservation. “As a forager, plants go through different phases, but I have to find a way to preserve it so I can still eat my plants in the winter.”
Baudar and Sandor Katz, author of multiple books on fermentation, shared an intimate stage at cookbook store Now Serving LA in Los Angeles to promote Baudar’s latest book, Wildcrafted Vinegars. The two rockstars of fermentation encouraged the crowd to connect with the resources around them.
The Foraging Craft
Baudar learned foraging as a child from his grandmother. He grew up in Belgium, France in a rural town of just 1,000 people. “I really enjoyed this connection with the environment and the forest,” he says. He wanted to study it more – but, at the time, the only books on the subject of foraging wild plants and living with the environment were about witchcraft. He studied fine art instead, eventually becoming a graphic designer.
Nervous about the much hyped Y2K scare, he began foraging again in 1999. But this time he decided he wanted to really live it. In just a few years, he took hundreds of classes from native people, botanists and survivalists, learning about native plants and how to find and eat them.
Today, Baudar lives in the Angeles National Forest in San Bernardino County. He teaches classes on subjects like eco-friendly foraging and plant identification. He admits he had no desire to get into fermentation when he began foraging. But eating wild plants meant he had to master food preservation techniques to eat the food year round, which he covers in his books (like Wildcrafted Fermentation). He learned there are three bacteria types that can be foraged locally – lactic acid, acetic acid and yeasts – their transformative microbial power harnessed through fermentation.
“My main job is to rediscover what people did in the old days,” Baudar says. “I’m not a crusader, I’m a teacher more than anything else.”
Biodiversity of Fermenting
Katz, meanwhile, was drawn to fermentation from gardening. Raised in New York’s Upper West Side, Katz eventually moved to a rural, off-the-grid community in Tennessee as a young adult. He planted a garden and learned to live a slower lifestyle.
“I was such a naïve city kid, I didn’t realize all the cabbage would be ready at the same time,” Katz says of his first garden. He learned to ferment sauerkraut first – garnering the nickname “Sandor Kraut” – and become a self-described “fermentation fetishist” from there.
“My interest in fermentation stems from my desire to get closer to where my food comes from. A lot of people have a craving to be more connected to their food,” says Katz. “Learning about common, wild plants and accessing them is a great way to do that. You get to know your environment better.”
Katz is known worldwide as a fermentation revivalist, bringing a renewed interest in the ancient food craft, especially in the U.S. He always preaches on fermentation’s safety.
“Fermentation is above all else a strategy for safety,” he says. “In the realm of raw fruits or vegetables, there are no cases of food poisoning from fermentation.”
Immersing vegetables into salt and water allows the lactic acid bacteria on the vegetables to thrive. If there were salmonella on a vegetable, for example, fermenting it creates an acidic environment where salmonella can’t survive.
“Acidification and alcohol are really strategies for safety because they make it impossible for the pathogens to grow,” he adds. “Everything we eat raw has incredible biodiversity on it that we don’t even recognize. The question of which of those organisms are going to become dominant for the fermentation, that’s what it’s all about, really. Manipulating the environmental conditions to encourage the ones we want and discourage the ones we don’t want.”
Hunting for Wild Plants
There’s an element to safety in foraging, too, “you really have to know what you’re doing,” Baudar cautions. “There are some plants that will definitely kill you. You have to go with certainty.”
Baudar will not forage in the city, though, especially along major roadways. The pollution in major metropolitan areas gets in the plants – he hunts in more pristine environments.
“You have to know where to forage,” he says. Still, people have healthy urban gardens. “Modern agriculture in my opinion is way worse than whatever you can forwage, with the amount of chemicals they put on there”
Baudar currently lives in an RV on property over 130 miles away from the city of Los Angeles. He moved from the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“One of the things I learned doing this is Los Angeles is really the capital of wild food,” he says. “Los Angeles is incredible in terms of wild, edible plants. What is fascinating is 90% of the wild, edible plants around Los Angeles are actually native and invasive.”
He points to the foothills and mountainsides surrounding Los Angeles and Southern California. In the spring, they’re a bright yellow color, covered with roughly 12 different types of wild mustard. Mustard could easily be preserved and put in the food stream – Baudar says other countries do this with wild mustard – but in California, the mustard is sprayed with Round Up and ripped out.
“The biggest food waste in Los Angeles is wild plants,” he adds. “But no one ever looks at wild food as food waste.”
Noma restaurant in Denmark is an excellent example of foraging. There was no Nordic cuisine based in native native plants until Noma revived it. “They practically rediscovered cuisine from scratch in the early 2000s,” he says.
Think of California cuisine and a modge podge of food from other cultures comes to mind – Mexican or Vietnamese food. California doesn’t have an identity with their native food. Baudar says every state could have their own sustainable cuisine based on edible, wild food.
“If you cook California cuisine in 2023, cuisine that is actually good for the environment by cooking those non-native and native plants, cuisine that’s sustainable because you’re replanting the plants, that’s native cuisine. And you do it without cultural appropriation because it’s native plants,” he says. “And it tastes really, really good. But foraging is not part of the big picture (for governments).”
Korean ferments are gaining popularity amongst U.S. consumers, and Korean agriculture leaders are trying to increase exports of Korean-made fermented foods to the U.S. At the first Korean Fermented Food Forum this month in Washington D.C., industry leaders shared their expertise on the future of Korean ferments in the American market.
“If you’re going to look at and work with fermented foods, you really have to look at Korea because that’s where all the action is, that’s where all the good food is,” says Fred Breidt, PhD, microbiologist with the USDA (and a TFA Science Advisor). Breidt was the keynote speaker at the event. “It’s becoming more and more popular to use these kinds of foods for their tremendous flavors that they can impart to food products and their health benefits as well.”
The forum was sponsored by Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT Corporation). It coincided with celebrations earlier that week for November 11 being designated as Kimchi Day being in Washington D.C. and Virginia. They join New York and California, which ratified Kimchi Day in the respective states in 2021. The aT Corporation is actively leading efforts for all U.S. states to designate a Kimchi Day.
“With the growing global popularity of Korean food, I am delighted and eager to promote awareness and educate consumers on the health benefits of kimchi and Korean fermented food products, such as kimchi, fermented soybeans, salted seafood and vinegar,” says Choon Jin Kim, president of the aT Corporation. He called kimchi “Korea’s staple fermented soul food. I believe the reason that Americans enjoy kimchi so much is that the many qualities of Korean fermented foods, such as its excellent nutritional value, health benefits and taste, are beginning to shine.”
Sales of Korean fermented foods are growing exponentially in the U.S. According to U.S. retail sales figures tracked by The Fermentation Association and SPINS data, kimchi increased in sales by 22% in 2022, totaling $37.56 million in sales. Sales of gochujang grew 8% in 2022, totaling $6.57 million in sales.
“It’s a wave that’s been coming for a long time,” said Rob Rubba, executive chef and partner at Oyster Oyster restaurant in D.C. “Where someone who was previously omnivore like myself, who is seeking depth of flavor in something you might not associate with a vegetable, you can achieve that through fermented foods.”
When asked why fermentation grew so much during the Covid-19 pandemic, Amelia Nielson-Stowell, TFA’s editor, says fermentation touches multiple global food movements. Fermented foods are healthy, natural, green, innovative, artisanal, flavorful and functional.
“Fermentation is not a trend, it’s the oldest food craft, it’s a traditional food art with history in every culture around the world and it’s absolutely having a resurgence here in the U.S.,” Nielsen-Stowell says.
She points out that, while kimchi grew 22% in sales this year, it’s increased market size to 16% of the fermented vegetables category. In 2021, kimchi sales grew 90%, but were only 7% of the fermented vegetables category.
“More brands tuned into kimchi’s popularity, so we’re seeing more market saturation,” Nielsen-Stowell says. “There’s huge opportunities for more Korean fermented foods here in the U.S.”
Kheedim Oh attribute’s part of kimchi’s success to Korean agricultural leaders. Oh, the chief minister of New York-based brand Mama O’s Premium Kimchi, says “We have to give credit to the Korean government and groups like the aT because the Korean government recognizes the soft power of promoting.”
When he began Mama O’s 20 years ago, there were few American-made kimchi companies. Now, “there’s like a new kimchi company everyday. I don’t think it’s going to stop because kimchi is the best food ever, it goes with everything.”
Julie Sproesser agrees. Sproesser, the Interim Executive Director of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, says she’s seen Korean ingredients and Korean hybrid restaurants across the D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas increase in the last seven years.
“It seems like it’s not an accident and not going anywhere,” she adds.
During his presentation, Breidt shared an overview on Korean fermented foods, including kimchi, gochujang, ssamjang and doenjang.
Kimchi’s origin begins 11,000 years ago to the start of one of the world’s “first technologies invented” – pottery. Koreans discovered adding veggies with salt and water could preserve food during a time there was no refrigeration.
Scientists are continuing to learn about the significant health benefits of the probiotic-rich, lactic acid bacteria in fermented foods. Breidt says kimchi is especially beneficial because it has 10 million to 1 billion live lactic acid bacteria per gram. Through emerging genomic tools, science is now linking specific lactic acid bacteria strains in fermented foods to health benefits.
There are challenges to selling in the U.S. market, though. Briedt says many Americans like a lightly-fermented kimchi (with a pH in the high 3’s or low 4’s), but once fermentation has begun, it’s hard to stop unless it is refrigerated.
“It’s difficult to get lightly-fermented kimchi that’s imported from somewhere else. You pretty much have to get it locally or near the source of where it’s being produced,” he says, noting because kimchi is a live, fermented product, it doesn’t travel well. “The flavors will change over time, and the evolution of these microbial communities is going to proceed unless you somehow sterilize the product, which is really counter to the whole idea of what excites people about kimchi.”
The environmental factors around fermented vegetables must be meticulously monitored to produce a consistent product. Like the freshness of the ingredients, the correct size of the fermentation vessel, the cut of cabbage and the proper sterilization of cutting machines.
“Having access to high-quality products here I think is really boosting this, and it’s going to keep going as long as we continue those efforts,” Breidt adds.
The 2022 Korean Fermented Food Forum was the first, though it is expected to recur annually, coinciding with Kimchi Day. Jeanie Chang was the moderator of the forum, a licensed clinician who uses Korean dramas as a way to explore mental health through her Instagram, Noona’s Noonchi.
Creativity in a restaurant comes from reinvention. Weeks before the entire Noma staff move to Kyoto, Japan for five months for their latest pop-up, founder René Redzepi and two of Noma’s longtime chefs shared how they stay innovative in the grind of restaurant work.
“As a cook, you go through the seasons each year and it’s the same, it’s not like you’re going to find a new species of birds or the world is going to invent a new animal, you’re going to have to constantly see fresh opportunity in the same winter beats and the same winter onions and so on and so forth,” Redzepi says. “It’s up to us to put the imagination.”
Noma has been awarded multiple times as one of the best restaurants in the world, and earned a third Michelin star last year. Regarded as the pioneer of modern restaurant fermentation, every dish at Noma features something fermented. Noma is regarded as the pioneer of modern gastronomy fermentation, igniting a worldwide movement experimenting with unconventional ferments in the restaurant kitchen to create flavor-packed dishes.
As part of promotion for the new book “Noma 2.0: Vegetable, Forest, Ocean,” authors René Redzepi, Mette Søberg and Junichi Takahashi (both Noma chefs), traveled from Copenhagen to Los Angeles. The book’s title refers to Noma’s three iconic serving seasons. Vegetable in the summer, made with foraged and plant-based items; forest in the fall, when they serve wild game and mushrooms; then ocean in the winter, when seafood is on the menu.
“It provided an outrageous pressure on the team,” he added. “It sounds like nothing, but three times a year coming up with this new way is really, really, really, really hard.”
Redzepi described opening Noma 20 years ago and discovering bright green sea grass that tasted like coriander. It was a pivotal moment.
“That epiphany, that moment where you feel like a child that’s discovered the most amazing thing, those discoveries don’t come that often anymore, I will have to be very very honest, because we’ve just tasted so many things,” Redzepi says. “It’s harder now.”
In the restaurant industry, where pay is low and hours are long, it stifles a chef’s creativity “to be in factory work…it’s simply not worth it.”
But Soberg, head of research and development, said creativity “is really a gift that Rene has given us, because we get to work with these three distinct menus. It’s more about the storyline of the menu.”
She added that she enjoys brainstorming with Noma chefs – a diverse team from all over the world – for the ingredient-driven game and forest season, the more simple seafood where a scallop can shine with umami butter and the complicated vegetable season.
Takashi, a 10 year veteran of Noma, is known as having the most complicated recipes on the staff. The book features one of Takashi’s recipes for cod that is 17 pages long. He said, while working at Noma can be learning techniques, the chefs from different backgrounds all teach each other and share ideas.
“We are also learning from some traditional, international techniques , which is very important for us,” he adds. “I think that’s more important than the fancy stuff, honestly.”
Investing new dishes at Noma can take years of planning. Executing an idea into service “is by far the most complicated part,” Redzepi says. The restaurant spends 10 days before a season opening in a dress rehearsal – then 2 days in testing full serving – finding critical moments – like will a sauce split during serving? Will the weather make the produce taste different?
Intuition, Redzepi says, is a critical skill for a chef to possess and adapt as ingredients change. “You can’t follow the recipes, it’s all in your hands, in your intuition, in your cooking skills. A drop of acidity, a touch of salt. Recipes are guidelines, but the cook will ultimately create the magic.”
When The Fermentation Association began tracking industry news five years ago, we put a write-up in our newsletter when fermentation made a food publication’s new year “trend” or “best of” list. Today, as we analyze the 2023 lists, we’re finding it too overwhelming to write a story for each new trend list. Fermentation is dominating 2023.
End-of-year lists often define which foods Americans will be obsessed with in the New Year. Umami-packed fermentation is also at the center of multiple larger trends. Today’s diners are looking for foods that are functional, intensely flavored, international, sustainable, aid gut health and combine sweet and savory.
Christopher Koetke, a global culinary expert and executive chef at Ajinomoto in Chicago, says he thinks there will “be even more of an explosion of fermented products,” reads an article in the Medium.
“As consumers continue to seek out new global flavor profiles, I anticipate 2023 will be the year that umami finally takes center stage,” Koetke says. “I expect to see umami not only in sauces, snack foods, and sandwiches, but branching out into more unexpected uses like desserts and cocktails.”
Interestingly, many of these food publications pointed to McCormick releasing a Miso Caramel Seasoning as evidence fermentation is propelling into the zeitgeist.
Here’s a roundup of fermentation highlights:
“Here is another trend that’s been brewing (fermenting?) for some time. While fermented foods are certainly nothing new, their trendiness has been sneaking in and taking hold of us with things like kimchi and kombucha for the past few years. In 2023, we’re anticipating a bag wave of fermented foods will hit the shelves. This trend ties in deliciously with the “sweets plus” prediction, as many traditionally sweet flavors are expected to fuse with fermented flavors. We’ve begun to see this unusually tasty combination already in products like McCormick’s miso caramel seasoning, which launched just this year.”
- The Manual, “Food Trends That Are About To Take Over 2023”
There’s no doubt that fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and tempeh have increased in popularity and what’s not to love about these foods?
They’re a mix of umami and sour flavors that are produced from natural fermentation — this just means they’re made by microorganisms — which yields complex, full flavors.
To get ahead of the trend, McCormick Foods, arguably one of the largest spice companies, has already launched a new blend named Miso Caramel Seasoning. You can even find a recipe for Miso Caramel Oatmeal Whoopie Pies on their website.
It’s possible that Covid-19 has helped boost fermented foods to its top position since these products often contain probiotics which can aid in digestive health, immunity, and overall wellness. Topics that have been on everyone’s mind in recent years amid a global pandemic.
- The Medium, “Flavor scientists predict the biggest trends in foods for 2023”
“I’m going with fermented and the sour and umami flavors produced from it,” says Jan Matsuno, founder of Yumbini Foods and Mindful Food Consulting, when asked to peer into her crystal ball to predict a flavor trend set to make the biggest impact in the coming year. “Think kimchi, miso, beet kvass, pickles, beer, and kombucha.”
This ties in closely to the Sweet Plus trend, playing off the popularity of more complex flavors that often result from the fermentation process. In addition, as Matsuno points out, “fermented ties in squarely with Korean, the hottest ethnic cuisine around, and its use of tangy, spicy fermented vegetables.
“Natural fermentation also often uses probiotics, which are thought to increase gut biodiversity, improving digestive health and overall wellness, clearly desired by many consumers,” continues Matsuno. With COVID-19 spurring many to amp up their wellness initiatives, more consumers are looking to food and beverages to aid in their quest. According to Fuchs North America, fermented ingredients have seen rapid growth in both foodservice and retail, largely due to the perceived health benefits surrounding fermentation, along with a growing acceptance of sour flavors.
“Miso (fermented soybeans, rice, and sometimes other grains) is popping up in trendy online recipes all over,” says Matsuno. “Miso soup and salad dressing have been around for a long time. And the umami flavor of miso is a natural with vegetables, fish, and meats. But what about miso caramel, miso banana bread, or miso buttercream with spice cake?”
- Food Technology Magazine, “Outlook 2023: Flavor Trends”
Pickling and fermenting preparations are having a moment. Not only do these preparations promote ingredient preservation and health connotations but they also allow for unique culinary experimentation. Expect pickling to extend to everything from proteins and french fries to herbs and nuts, while pickled ingredients, themselves, will top unexpected dishes. At the bar, pucker up with sour cocktails containing fermented, gut-healthy ingredients, such as kombucha, miso and sake. Lastly, look to menus to cite more specific preserving processes, such as lacto-fermentation (the use of bacteria to create lactic acid), to provide consumers with a level of scientific transparency.
- Technomic, “What We Foresee for 2023”
“Getting creative and cross-utilizing foods is pertinent to mitigate food waste across the world – and it’s part of our culinary DNA. Our chefs will regularly experiment with banana peels to make plant-based bacon, convert potato peels into chips and garnishes, or even repurpose off cuts and trimmings to make mousses and rillettes, as well as using techniques like pickling, canning, and fermenting to extend product shelf life.” — Ana Esteves, vice president of hotel operations, Lindblad Expeditions
- Food & Wine, “These Will Be the Biggest Travel Trends of 2023, According to Experts”
The “new Nordic” culinary movement spearheaded by Noma in Copenhagen helped cement pickling, preserving, and brining in fine dining, bringing the fermented flavors front and center. Koji, a Japanese product traditionally made from fermenting rice, barley, or soybeans — but it can also be made from other ingredients containing both starch and protein — plays a starring role in many of these restaurants. Koji is best known as the starter for miso, but now different flavor bases, ingredients, and approaches are coming into play as more chefs as well as bartenders are taking to the process as an appreciation for the flavors that come from fermentation is spreading across cultures, cuisines, and service categories.
- Nation’s Restaurant News, “Af&co and Carbonate predict 2023 food & beverage trends”
Fermentation, in general, has soared in popularity over the past few years, and koji is the latest darling on the fermentation scene. Koji is a Japanese seasoning that is made by fermenting rice, barley, or soybeans. It is the starter base for miso, sake, and soy sauce, so clearly, it is an essential staple in Japan. The result of this type of fermentation brings up gorgeous umami flavors that will elevate any meal. So many snacks, dishes, and beverages can benefit from koji.
Takamine Japanese whiskey has an eight-year-old koji spirit. Spirit Almonds have a koji salt almond snack, and amazake is a creamy koji rice drink you can make or buy. There are a plethora of recipes to try that incorporate koji. To get started, you can buy your own starter culture, or buy premade koji by Cold Mountain from MTC Kitchen or Marukome. Then, try your hand at cooking with koji.
- Tasting Table, “17 Food And Beverage Trends To Look For In 2023”