Fermentation is Not a Trend

Fermentation intersects several major food movements – it’s natural, artisanal, sustainable, innovative, functional, global, flavorful and healthy. Now is an ideal time in the food market for fermentation producers.

“Fermentation is not a trend. It’s experiencing a resurgence, a renaissance,” says Amelia Nielson-Stowell, editor for The Fermentation Association. “Fermentation never went away. It just became less of a common type of food craft, especially in the U.S. where Americans became accustomed to other types of food processing.”

Nielson-Stowell was a speaker at the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show in Las Vegas. Her remarks touched on growth opportunities and challenges for the fermentation industry. It was well-received by the audience. Two food business news magazines wrote articles about it. The show’s keynote speaker, author Paco Underhill, was also in attendance and brought up Nielson-Stowell’s presentation during his keynote.

Fermentation is a growing industry, slated to reach $846 billion in global sales by 2027. Kvass, pickles, kimchi and hard cider are the products experiencing the largest growth. 

There’s no denying fermentation’s popularity – “there’s widespread scientific agreement that eating fermented foods will help the microorganisms in your gut.” But reputable clinical trials proving the health benefits of fermented foods are few and far between because they’re incredibly expensive. There are plenty of studies on the health benefits of yogurt because there’s a lot of money in the dairy industry. Other ferments don’t have the monetary backing.

Nielson-Stowell points to the 2021 Stanford study as a “watershed moment” in fermentation. It’s one of the first clinical trials proving diet remodels the gut microbiota. The research, published in the journal Cell, found a diet high in fermented food like yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, kimchi, kombucha, fermented veggies and fermented veggie broth led to an increase in overall microbial diversity. 

“This microbiome world we are in right now is a real opportune time to talk to consumers about fermented foods and health,” Nielson-Stowell said. “Humans have long consumed fermented foods for thousands and thousands of years, but now we have the scientific techniques to dive into fermented foods and analyze their nutritional properties, their microbial composition and better understand how they may improve a person’s health.”

Educating consumers is another major challenge. Nielsen-Stowell encourages brands to focus on simple messaging, then delve deeper into the science on their webpage for consumer’s that want to know more about the intricacies of their food. 

“Many consumers are confused about fermentation. They know it’s good for them, but they don’t understand why or what products are fermented,” she said. 

Tradition, too, should be shared.

“Fermented foods have a unique story to them compared to other foods,” she adds. “Every culture in the world has a traditional ferment. We are here today because, thousands of years ago, our ancestors fermented.”

Noma – the New Nordic restaurant that inspired the restaurant fermentation movement – announced it will be closing in 2024, reopening as a food lab. This reiteration (owner René Redzepi calls it Noma 3.0) will focus on developing new dishes and products for Noma Projects, Noma’s e-commerce, CPG operation. 

Within days of the news, Noma announced the hire of Arielle Johnson, PhD, as Noma Projects’ Science Director. Johnson, a flavor scientist, food chemist and gastronomy researcher, co-founded the Noma Fermentation Lab in 2014.

Since first opening two decades ago, Noma has been named one of the world’s best restaurants. The announcement shocked the restaurant industry as Noma is seemingly at the top of their game. Noma redefined fine dining – meals at Noma were largely local, Nordic ingredients turned into artistically beautiful and culinarily unique dishes.  

“The style of fine dining that Noma helped create and promote around the globe — wildly innovative, labor-intensive and vastly expensive — may be undergoing a sustainability crisis,” writes the New York Times. 

Redzepi himself says the long hours and fair compensation for the large team “is not workable.” Noma came under fire for their stagiaire program, the term for unpaid restaurant interns. Noma started paying their interns in October 2022.

“We have to completely rethink the industry,” he told the Times. “This is simply too hard, and we have to work in a different way.”

“Fine dining is at a crossroads, and there have to be huge changes,” he said. “The whole industry realizes that, but they do not know how it’s going to come out.”

Read more (New York Times)

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).

Alabama

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.

Alaska

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.

Arizona

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. 

California

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.

Colorado

HB1017 — Increases the amount of alcohol beverages brought into the state that would be exempt from taxes.

Connecticut

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. 

Delaware

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.

Georgia

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.

Hawaii

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.

Idaho

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.

Illinois

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.

Indiana

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.

Iowa

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.

Kansas

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. 

Kentucky

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.

Louisiana

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.

Maine

LD1503 — Prohibits the use of toxic “forever chemicals” called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in various products, including food packaging and cookware.

Maryland 

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.

Fermenting Wild Foods

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).”

Ugly Fruit into Delicious Kombucha

A new Los Angeles-based kombucha brand has a unique approach to their fermented tea. Sunset Cultures owner and chef Balo Orozco (pictured) uses the unsold or “ugly” fruits and vegetables from local farms into “some of L.A.’s most creative kombuchas, hot sauces and condiments.”    

Staying true to his goal of curbing food waste and helping local farmers is certainly not easy. Orozco spends much of his days driving across the state to pick up boxes or pallets of produce that would otherwise be thrown away or composted. Another challenge: the kombucha flavors and condiment offerings change with the amount and type of surplus product Orozco receives from farmers. (Sunset Cultures does consistently sell four core kombucha flavors).

Orozco’s roots are in the restaurant industry. As a chef, he was alarmed at the amount of kitchen waste restaurants would throw away. His specialty soon switched to reusing kitchen scraps and fermenting house-produced condiments. After the last restaurant he worked at folded due to the pandemic, he began working on Sunset Cultures.

Sunset Cultures products are always changing and adapting based on available products. In the last six months, Sunset Cultures began making jam, a solution to their own wasted byproduct from the lightly boiled strawberries used in their kombucha. 

Sunset Cultures products are currently sold in 40 retail shops and online, with plans to expand to other cities in 2023. 

Read more (Los Angeles Times)

Froyo’s Comeback

Frozen yogurt has been victim to trending food cycles for decades, first coming to America in the 80s, experiencing a boom in the 90s, then again in the early 2000s. Now industry leader say froyo is poised for its second (fourth?) act, thanks to the healthy ice cream alternative trend and wellness-focused product boom. And froyo this time around will be different. 

“This trend will only grow stronger,” says Sam Yoon, president of froyo chain Yogurtland. Sales at Yogurtland were up 27% in 2021. “Frozen yogurt is healthier and contains probiotics that boost immune systems. Our frozen yogurt contains at least 10 million cultures at the time of manufacturing, and our flavors are developing around plant-based flavors our guests love, as well as sugar-free options.”

Plan for modern froyo shops to use high-quality ingredients, offer dairy-free options, highlight yogurt’s fermented and probiotic punch, utilize tech-driven self-service machines, partner with CPG brands and create diverse, global flavors.

“Millennials love the brand in New York, so we’ll keep playing to that,” Hershman adds. “For (Millennials), they grew up with frozen yogurt always being available, so to have a cool, clean kind of modern, sleek store to go to that sells frozen yogurt, versus kind of a dingy local shop, is a nice benefit,” says Neil Hershman, the largest franchisee of froyo shop 16 Handles.

Read more (QSR Magazine)

Is Water Kefir Drink of 2023?

Water kefir or tibicos is making a splash. Food trend analysts are highlighting tibicos as the “it” drink of the new year.

Tibicos is ripe for popularity in 2023. More consumers are shunning soda in favor of functional drinks. Tibicos is not sugar-filled like soda, not as tart at kombucha and more flavor-filled than seltzer water. 

An article on Yahoo notes that water kefir has a unique taste compared to other fermented drinks like kombucha or kvass. “Tibicos is knows as a ‘softer’ fermented beverage because of its lactic acid,” the article reads.

The growing trend is worth highlighting, but TFA notes the Yahoo article got a few facts wrong — like the spelled of kvass and chicha (a fermented soda). Also, though the article states the microbiota of tibicos contains different acids, yeast is not one of them. Yeast will never produce acid.

Read more (Yahoo)

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?”

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.

“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.

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.

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The French baguette is as symbolic of France as the Eiffel Tower. The aromatic, golden, crusty bread has a deep flavor attributed to the long fermentation process.

And now the respected United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Cultural Heritage of Humanity list – which includes other cultural fermented foods and beverages like champagne, kimchi and tequila – includes the French baguette. Specifically, the “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread.” President of France Emmanuel Macron calls it “250 grams of magic and perfection in our daily lives.”

“The traditional production process entails weighing and mixing the ingredients, kneading, fermentation, dividing, relaxing, manually shaping, second fermentation, marking the dough with shallow cuts (the baker’s signature) and baking,” UNESCO wrote. “Unlike other loaves, the baguette is made with only four ingredients (flour, water, salt and leaven and/or yeast) from which each baker obtains a unique product.” 

The baguette is integral to the French way of life. More than six billion are baked every year in France, according to the National Federation of French bakeries. 

The traditional baguette is taken seriously in France. It was officially given the name in 1920, a law specifying its minimum weight (80 grams) and maximum length (40 centimeters). An annual competition outside the Notre-Dame cathedral awards the best baguette baker in the country with a yearlong contract to serve the Élysée Palace, where the president lives.

“When a baby cuts his teeth, his parents give him a stump of baguette to chew off,” said Dominique Anract, the president of the National Federation of French Bakeries and Patisseries announced at the French Confederation of Bakers. “When a child grows up, the first errand he runs on his own is to buy a baguette at the bakery.”

The group led the effort to get the baguette on the UNESCO heritage list. The country was considering nominating the baguette, Paris’ gray zinc rooftops or the Biou d’ Arbois wine festival.

The news comes during a tumultuous time for artisanal bread. France is losing 400 artisanal bakeries a year since 1970, from 55,000 (one per 790 residents) to 35,000 today (one per 2,000). It’s been a significant hit to France’s rural areas, as supermarket chains overtake traditional, local bakeries. 

French newspaper Le Monde points out that industrial bakeries are also putting mom-and-pop bakers out of business. Many consumers are swapping traditional baguette’s for modern favorites, like sourdough or burgers. Since 2017, sales of burgers in France have exceeded sales of jambon-beurre, the classic French ham baguette and butter sandwich.  

After UNESCO’s announcement, the French government announced a Bakehouse Open Day to “enhance the prestige of the artisanal know-how required for the production of baguettes” and support new scholarships and training programs for bakers.

French bakers were skeptical. Parisian bakers told the New York Times after the announcement that their fears of high costs of wheat and flour (due to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine) would not be alleviated by the baguette’s new status.

“This UNESCO recognition is not what will help us get through the winter,” said Pascale Giuseppi, who was behind the counter of her bakery near the Champs-Élysées, serving a lunch rush for baguette sandwiches. “We still have bigger bills to pay.”

Read more (New York Times) & read more (Le Monde)

https://www.lemonde.fr/en/france/article/2022/11/30/french-baguettes-get-unesco-world-heritage-status_6006151_7.html

Slow Burn Serves Travelling Ferments

Hear the origin story of traveling restaurant Slow Burn and you’ll wonder what’s the meaning behind the name. Chefs practice zero waste through slow cooking methods, fermenting, preserving and dehydrating scraps to use as an ingredient in the next sustainable meal.  The chefs founded Slow Burn after feeling frustrated with the traditional restaurant industry, from the exhausting grind to the amount of food waste.

Slow Burn will travel through California’s coast this fall and winter, then head to multiple cities in Canada. Husband-and-wife duo Andy Doubrava and Tiffani Ortiz drive to each location towing a “trailer full of their carefully packed jars of fermented sauces, pickled produce and whatever else they’ve smoked and preserved, then travel from kitchen to kitchen. Whatever isn’t utilized at one event will appear on the next menu, or the next — sometimes as an oil, sometimes a relish, sometimes as part of a dessert in the name of creative waste mitigation, and hopefully, building awareness and community around it.”

Of their food cost, 65% goes towards what’s plated, while 35% goes toward future meals. In addition to creating new ingredients out of food scraps, they’re using waste to compost, dye merchandise and create soaps from the kitchen grease. 

Unsure how guests would respond to a roaming, sustainable restaurant, Doubrava and Ortiz were surprised at the amount of tickets purchased through the 2022 – and the amount of invitations from chefs around the world.

“It’s really hard to put what we do in a box,” Ortiz told the Los Angeles Times. “I had to put ‘international food’ on our Tock page because how do you explain to people the weird s— we’re doing sometimes? It doesn’t sound good when you say that we’re fermenting rhubarb, but it’s kind of one of those things where when they’re here, they understand.”

Read more (Los Angeles Times)

https://www.latimes.com/food/story/2022-11-28/slow-burn-tour-roving-restaurant-sustainability