Stopping “Sourfaux” in the UK

Artisan bread bakers in the UK are banding together for Sourdough September, pushing for new government legislation to stop the rise of “sourfaux” bread. Laws in the UK allow retailers to sell unwrapped bread loaves without displaying an ingredient list.

Writes the Real Bread Campaign organizer Chris Young: “In the hands of skilled Real Bread bakers, this longer, slower fermentation, allows lactic acid bacteria in the starter to cause changes in the dough that result in bread with a glossy crust and crumb, and a greater complexity of flavour and aroma.”

The UK government promised in 2018 to protect consumers from buying products erroneously label led as “sourdough.” But no action has been made. More than 50 UK bread bakeries have launched their own labeling promise, signing The Sourdough Loaf Mark scheme last month, urging all bread makers to display a full ingredient list.

Read more (Food Navigator)

Butter or Not?

A ruling has been issued on a lawsuit against the California Department of Food & Agriculture. It will be a landmark in the vegan (and fermented) food industry. A California judge said vegan dairy company Miyoko’s Kitchen can continue using the terms “butter,” “lactose-free” and “cruelty-free” on its packaging. The state’s food and agriculture department told Miyoko’s earlier this year that those terms could not be used on the vegan butter packaging because it was confusing to consumers. They said the term butter is restricted to products containing at least 80% milk fat. But Miyoko’s butter is a cashew cream fermented with live cultures. Miyoko’s also creates the natural flavor in their products by fermenting rosemary, plum and oregano.

“The state’s showing of broad marketplace confusion around plant-based dairy alternatives is empirically underwhelming,” wrote U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg. Miyoko’s Kitchen, he wrote, is entitled to label its products as “butter” under the protection of the First Amendment. The case has still not been dismissed.

Read more (Food Dive)

Yesterday we shared about the beer industry pushing to change inequality issues among beer brewers. What about the wine industry? According to Sunset Magazine, “progress has been plodding within the more conservative corners of the wine industry.” Carlton McCoy, president and CEO of the Napa house Heitz Cellars @heitzcellar , is one of the few BIPOC leaders in the wine business. He started a foundation, The Roots Fund @rootsfund as a way to help Black and Indigenous people in the wine industry with financial support, mentorships and job placement.

“I’m hoping that people are quiet because they don’t know what to do yet—if I put myself in their shoes I would ask: How do I even start?” Carlton tells the magazine. “They should know that The Roots Fund is a place where they can have that conversation.”

McCoy launched The Roots Fund with sommelier Tahiirah Habibi @sippingsocialite and restaurateur Ikimi Dubose. The hope is the group can raise awareness that a career in wine is possible for BIPOC.

“It’s not really marketed to Black people,” says Carlton. “We’re trying to recognize that has been a barrier to entry and rectify it. It’s a challenge to hire someone who doesn’t look like you and comes from a different background.”

Read more (Sunset Magazine)

Equality in Brewing

Though Black people make up 13% of the nation’s population, they comprise less than 1% of brewers. Amidst rising demands for racial equality, brewers across the nation are trying to change the industry. “It takes nothing to do a one-time act,” says Latiesha Cook, the chief executive of Beer Kulture @beerkulture, a new nonprofit group that brings people of color into the craft-beer world through charitable and educational efforts. “Your brewery is not going to be diverse and inclusive tomorrow, but the work you put in today is going to effect that change five years from now.”

Articles in both the New York Times and Inc. list brewers creating programs to bring more Black people into brewing.

– Brooklyn Brewery @brooklynbrewery (Brooklyn, New York) launches Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling for brewing and distilling scholarships for Black, Indigenous and people of color.
– Crowns & Hops @crownsandhops (Inglewood, Calif.), a craft beer and lifestyle brand with the slogan “Black People Love Beer,” launch the 8 Trill Pils Fund to give grants to other Black brewers.
– Orpheus Brewing @orpheusbrewing (Atlanta) introduces its Leadership Diversity Program, a six-month paid internship.
– Fremont Brewing @fremontbrewing (Seattle), will offer six- to eight-week internship next year.
– Weathered Souls Brewing @weatheredsoulsbrewing_marcus (San Antonio, Texas), creates Black Is Beautiful project, where participating breweries create a beer with the Black Is Beautiful label and donate proceeds to organizations supporting equality and police reform.
– Finback Brewery @finbackbrewery (Queens and Brooklyn, New York) creates I.P.A. label Breathing: Conversations, with discussions about race printed on the beer’s label to foster dialogue among drinkers.
– Constellation Brands, which imports Corona and other beers, founds a Focus on Minority Founders Program. The company’s venture capital division also announces places to invest $100 million in Black- and minority-owned alcohol beverage businesses over the next decade.

Read more (New York Times & Inc.)

Miura Fermented Food’s in Japan takes unique steps to make miso. Making miso since 1849, Miura creates a nesashi miso, a variety produced with only fermented soybeans. The locally grown soybeans are steamed in large wooden tubs (called koshiki), then ground and shaped into oblong cakes (namako). When the cakes have cooled, they’re sliced into rounds and placed on straw mats. At this point, traditional miso would be sprinkled with koji mold. But Mirua’s miso is fermented through koji in the straw mat.

Fifth-generation owner, Seiji Miura, describes it: “We just let our miso ferment through the action of the koji present in the straw matting as well as in the storehouse.” The microbes “thrive on the moisture of the sliced miso cakes,” Japan Times notes, and after 40-60 days, the cakes are hard and black and covered in a hairy, white mold. Water and salt is then stirred in with the cakes, this mixture is packed into cedar tubs and left to age for three years.

Miura describes nesashi miso as “similar in character to blue cheese. Just a tiny dab adds surprising depth to a dish’s flavor, and it has sparked interest among chocolatiers and chefs who specialize in French or Italian cuisine.”

Read more (Japan Times)

Defining “Gluten-Free”

The U.S. FDA released a final ruling on gluten-free labelling of fermented and hydrolyzed foods. The final rule covers yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, green olives, FDA-regulated beers and wines and hydrolyzed plant proteins. Though gluten breaks down during fermentation and hydrolysis, the FDA says there are currently no valid, scientific, analytical methods to determine the gluten protein content in fermented or hydrolyzed food. To comply with gluten-free standards, the new FDA ruling requires food manufacturers to only use gluten-free ingredients before they undergo fermentation or hydrolysis.

“These new compliance requirements for labeling a product ‘gluten-free’ will protect individuals with celiac disease, an incurable, hereditary disorder that millions of Americans, including myself, live with,” said Alex M. Azar, secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services. “The FDA’s final rule helps to ensure common products labeled ‘gluten-free’ really are gluten-free, equipping consumers to make the best choices for their health and their families.”

Read more (FDA)

California wildfires are destroying an already tough harvest season for wineries in Sonoma County, Napa Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Tony Bugica, director of farming for Atlas Vineyard Management, which farms 3,500 acres on California’s North Coast, says “2020 is like nothing we’ve ever been through.” Even as the fires diminish, wineries are battling power outages and smoke damage. Prior to the fires, the excessive heat, depleted tourism, social distancing restrictions and economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic were already making the 2020 grape harvest challenging.

Read more (Eater)

Charcuterie Without the Meat

Charcuterie is getting a new, vegan look — “all of the smoke but none of the meat,” declares the New York Times. Chefs are experimenting with veggies and fruit, curing, smoking and serving them on a charcuterie. “We use the same ancient techniques of meat charcuterie — salting, curing, drying, fermenting and smoking,” says Will Horowitz @willhorowitz chef and co-owner of Ducks Eatery @duckseatery in Manhattan: “The trick is finding the right cocktail for each vegetable.”

Think Watermelon ham, radish prosciutto, burdock root jerky sticks, smoked carrot hot dots, smoked shiitake mushrooms, deviled kohlrabi and fire-charred Chioggia beets.

“Vegetable charcuterie is complicated,” adds Jeremy Umansky @tmgastronaut chef at Larder @larderdb in Cleveland and co-author of the book “Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation.” “To get the cure to penetrate the vegetable, first you have to soften it by smoking. But soften the cell structure too much, and the vegetable collapses. Smoke it too hot or too long, and you close the pores and dry it out. The texture definitely affects the flavor.”

Read more (New York Times)

Healthy Cheese?

“Cheese is finding new ground as a ‘health’ food,” writes John Lucey, professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the director of the Center for Dairy Research. Cheese has received a bad stereotype as a dairy food high in saturated fat and carbs, but Lucey notes cheese is high in vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and folate. Studies show fermented cheeses reduce cancer rates, and fermented cheese contains bioactive peptides that reduce blood pressure, enhance the immune system and improve cardiovascular health.

Read more (Dairy Foods)

Co-Fermented Wine New Fall Trend

Co-fermenting is the wine trend for fall, a process described as experimental, lawless and a free-for-all. Coly Den Haan @cocogetsomm  owner of Vinovore @vinovorela a Los Angeles-based wine shop that focuses on female winemakers, says It’s a wine you want to chug.

“Overall, co-fermented wines tend to be a lighter, brighter, juicer, more glou-glou (glug-glug) style of wine with a more integrated profile,” Den Haan says. “For reds, they’re zippy and fresh but still have complex aromas and flavor like a bigger wine would. Whites tend to be wildly fragrant and rich with a firm amount of crispness.”

Co-fermenting is a “notoriously messy wine-making technique.” Co-fermented wines are made with two grape varieties fermented at the same time. It can be done with other ingredients, too, like fruit or flowers.

Read more (Refinery29)