An alcohol policy expert calls for an end to antiquated alcohol excise tax laws, which are unfairly penalizing kombucha producers across the country. Though kombucha only has trace amounts of alcohol (generally below the 0.5% alcoholic beverage threshold), it is “nearly impossible for kombucha producers to control the entire supply chain,” writes Jarrett Dieterle, Director of Commercial Freedom for R Street Institute and the author of forthcoming book “Drink For Your Country.” If not properly refrigerated once it’s left the manufacturer for distribution, kombucha will continue to ferment and raise the alcohol level. Dieterle said it’s unfair to make kombucha makers pay fines of more than $10,000 when they can’t control how the drink is stored once it enters the supply chain. Protecting kombucha, he says, should be a priority for federal lawmakers.

Read more (Washington Examiner

Spicy kimchi cures baldness and thickens hair, according to a new scientific report published in the World Journal of Men’s Health. Researchers from Dakook University in South Korea studied men in early stages of hair loss who consumed a kimchi probiotic drink twice a day. After a month, hair count increased from 85 per square centimeter to 90; after four months, hair count increased to 92. Results were even faster and prevalent for female patients with hair loss, who went from an average of 85 hairs per square centimeter to 92 after one month. Hair thickness also increased. This is exciting research for people suffering from hair loss; the kimchi and probiotic product is a natural, safer alternative to hair regrowth drugs. Current hair regrowth drugs have adverse side effects, like irregular heartbeat, weight gain and diarrhea.

Read more (World Journal of Men’s Health)

Farmhouse Culture is retooling their packaging, moving away from what the CEO calls “natural food cliches.” Using consumer research as their guide, the fermentation brand is using “always organic” on their labels, indicating quality to shoppers. Farmhouse Culture is also decreasing their emphasis on probiotics because, though shoppers want products with digestive health benefits, they’re confused over how to achieve digestive health. The Wisconsin-based brand makes sauerkraut, fermented veggie drinks and sauerkraut chips.

Read more (Nosh)

Thanks to new state law, “Maryland is fermenting as a rising powerhouse in the craft beer brewing industry,” writes the Baltimore Sun. Breweries in Maryland have an economic impact of over $910 million. As multiple breweries across the nation still face restrictive laws that keep them from operating at full capacity, new legislation in Maryland increased the number of barrels a brewery can sell from 500 per year to 5,000. After the local municipality of Carroll County changed zoning to allow breweries in industrial zones, there are now seven breweries in the county. Brewery Fire co-owner Jesse Johnson said: “The mayor and council laid out the rest carpet for us.” A brewer for 10 years, Johnson said counties are usually horrible to work with when opening a business brewing and selling alcohol, but Maryland’s lawmakers have “been a dream to work with.”

Read more (Baltimore Sun

“Everything cultured, fizzy-fied and aged is old-but-new again,” writes Dallas Morning News in their feature on the rising popularity of pu’er dark teas. Known as aged, vintage or post-fermented teas, dark teas are made from leaves that have undergone microbial fermentation. The article continues: “Fermented tea leaves reportedly started as a happy accident, with teas transported in travel-friendly pressed cakes through the humid, mountainous regions of Tea Horse Road, China’s ancient trade route to Tibet. The moisture created a breeding ground for microbes, which turned the leaves into something complex, earthy, smoky and entirely alluring and sought-after.”

Read more (Dallas Morning News

A “bread nerd” in California made a loaf of sourdough using yeast extracted from 4,000-year-old Egyptian artifact. Baker Seamus Blackley (creator of the Xbox) is a bread hobbyist who collects ancient yeast for delicious dough experiments. The New York Times feature on Blackley’s latest sourdough says: “Yeast is a living thing — a fungus. … Once they run out of food, yeast spores go dormant — rather than simply dying — and stay quietly viable for thousands of years until they are extracted.”

Read more (The New York Times)

Fermented foods are the most popular menu trend, increasing 149% on restaurant menus in 2018. As customers focus on wellness and gut health, they are ordering more naturally preserved foods in restaurants. – Upserve

The yogurt Los Angeles Times calls “the best yogurt in America” was forced out of California in 2011. White Moustache, which sells Greek and Persian yogurts with seasonal fruit common in Iranian cuisine added, moved to Brooklyn in 2012 after California Department of Food & Agriculture shut them down. According to California state law, making a milk-based product in a facility separate from the facility where the milk was pasteurized is illegal. Though White Moustache founder Homa Dashtaki produces her famous yogurt in New York, she now sells it in California — Manhattan’s brand of Eataly opened a Los Angeles store, and Dashtaki’s family members oversee production for the West Coast store.

Read more (The Los Angeles Times) 

This morning, you probably had a cup of one of the most popular fermented beverages: coffee. The Growler magazine article “Science of Coffee: the changing chemistry of coffee beans from farm to cup” details how coffee makers have embraced fermentation in recent years “to take maximum advantage of beans’ unique potentials. … The fickle nature of fermentation’s microfauna plays a bigger role in coffee than even many coffee industry people understand.” One coffee company founder shared the story of buying a unique variety of Colombian coffee with incredible flavor. When he bought the brand a year later, the flavor wasn’t as good. The reason — the bean grower started making good money off the coffee, and upgraded the wood fermentation tank to a stainless steel tank. “That totally changed the coffee.”

Read more (The Growler)

Fermentation traces back to many Ancient cultures, Korean and European the most publicized. Here is a fascinating look at fermentation in India from the newspaper “The Indian Express.”

From the article: “Fermented foods are a staple in the Indian diet, with most meals incomplete without a bevy of lacto-fermented achaars that add a healthy kick of flavours, from sweet-and-sour to spicy and tangy. These household staples are made by immersing fruits and vegetables in saltwater brine, releasing microbes that generate a natural preservative, in turn amping up the vitamin quotient and nutrition levels of your favourite pickle, whilst enhancing the complexity of flavours savoured with each bite. …

South Indian staples from idlis to appams and dosas feature fermented rice-and-dal batters; in the North, fermentation has led to probiotic drinks suited to the regional climate from the creamy lassi to the tart-and-salty kanji, featuring antioxidant-rich black carrots, mustard seeds, water and black salt, with the potent concoction preserved in ceramic jars and left to ferment in the sun for as long as two to three days before being strained and served. In fact, when you get down to it, even your favourite snacks involve an element of fermentation, with fluffy tea-time dhoklas (a Gujarati speciality) made with a fermented batter of besan or chana dal, curd, water, baking soda and turmeric.”

Read more (The Indian Express)