“Why do some foods like chocolate, wine and cheese taste so delicious? Fermenting magically transforms their original ingredients into something more desirable. Besides upping flavor, some lactic-acid ferments, such as homemade sauerkraut, actually strengthen your immune system.”

Rebecca Wood, “Fermented Foods Strengthen Immune System

Fermented foods are spiking in popularity in the deli section. A cover story in Deli Business magazine features fermented food offerings in the deli case — from meat, cheese, olives and pickles. Representatives from The Fermentation Association were quoted in the piece, highlighting the unique flavors and health benefits of fermented foods that drive the category. Van Holten’s pickles has seen 13 years of sales growth, with the past two years as their strongest sales growth. Eric Girard, vice president of sales and marketing at Van Holten’s:  “Consumers continue to turn away from salty snacks to easy grab and go items that are healthier. Pickles were often a spear at the side of a sandwich, which it still is, but can be a snack. Fermented foods will garner more shelf space in delis in the future, but companies will need to innovate with flavors to keep it fresh and top of mind.”

Read more (Deli Business magazine)

Fermented food and beverages reigned at the 2020 Good Food Awards. The annual Good Food Awards honors American craft food producers. Over a hundred fermented brands beat out 1,835 entrants to take home top honors. 

Craft food makes over $200 billion in revenue a year. The 17 categories include: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, elixirs, fish, grains, honey, oils, pantry, pickles, preserves, snacks and spirits.

From the Good Food Foundation: “For a long time, certifications for responsible practices and awards for superior taste have remained distinct – one honors social and environmental responsibility, while the other celebrates craftsmanship and flavor. The Good Food Awards recognizes that truly good food – the kind that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities – contains all of these ingredients.”

Read our article for an overview on the fermentation brands that won awards this year.

1000 Faces Coffee – Luis Ordoñez (Athens, Georgia). With a “mission to connect the coffee consumers and coffee producer,” 1000 Faces Coffee is a coffee roaster that travels to countries of origin to work with producers. 

21 Degrees Estate Cacao Farm – Kahalu`u Gold (Kaneohe, Hawaii). A family-operated boutique cacao farm on the windward side of the island of Oahu. 21 Degrees sells chocolate and offers tours. 

Albemarle CiderWorks – Harrison (North Garden, Virgina). A 20-year-old apple orchard, CiderWorks makes 15 varieties of cider in their cideries, selling by the bottle or by glass in their taproom.

Aldi – VitaLife Organic Ginger Awakening Kombucha (Batavia, Illinois). The fermented tea is made by VitaLife, a brand made by the discount supermarket chain Aldi.

Allagash Brewing Company – Crosspath (Portland, Maine). This independent craft brewer sells beers using a traditional, Belgian method of spontaneous fermentation.

Almanac Beer Co – Apricot Sournova (Alameda, California). Farm-to-barrel brewing, Almanac uses mixed-culture to make their beers, which allows continuous fermentation over months with real fruit in oak barrels. 

Apologue Spirited Liqueurs – Saffron Liqueur (Chicago, Illinois). A locally-sourced liquer maker that “elevate classic cocktail recipes.”

Askinosie Chocolate – Dark Chocolate & Red Raspberry CollaBARation™ Bar (Springfield, Missouri). One of Forbes’ 25 Best Small Companies In America, Askinosie Chocolate uses single origin, Direct Trade cocoa beans. 

Atlantic Sea Farms – Sea-Chi (Saco, Maine). The first commercially viable seaweed farm in the U.S., Atlantic Sea Farms was founded in 2009. The clean, fresh Sea-Chi is made with raw kelp, cabbage and radish. 

Backyard Beans Coffee Co. – Ethiopia Basa (Lansdale, Pennsylvania). A coffee roaster using responsibly sourced coffee beans, the light roast is an Ethiopian heirloom variety.

Barrington Coffee Roasting Company – Gera (Lee, Massachusetts). Sustainable coffee with delicate violet and blueberry aromas with fruit flavors of strawberry, peach and hard candy and soft tones of cocoa, molasses and licorice root.

Beltex Meats – Pate Forestier (Salt Lake City, Utah). A nose-to-tail, whole animal butcher sourcing regional meat, Beltex Meat’s Pate Forestier is part of the in-house charcuterie program. It’s comprised of pork shoulder and liver, chicken liver, and foie gras.

Big B’s Hard Cider – Harry Masters Jersey (Hotchkiss, Colorado). A farmstead hard cider made with fruit from the orchard and fermented in the cidery.

Big Easy Bucha – Bayou Berry Kombucha (New Orleans, Louisiana). A kombucha brand fermented with Southern flavors. Bayou Berry is infused with strawberry and honeysuckle. 

Blackberry Farm – Sobrasada (Walland, Tennessee). Sobrasada is Blackberry Farm’s version of a raw, cured, fermented Spanish sausage, made from American Iberico pigs raised at White Oak Pastures in southern Georgia. 

Blackberry Farm – Brebis (Walland, Tennessee). Blackberry Farm’s seasonal fresh sheep’s milk cheese. 

Blackberry Farm – Hawkins Haze (Walland, Tennessee). An ashed surface-ripened sheep’s milk cheese named after the Hawkins line that runs through the property. 

Blue Bus Cultured Foods – Local Cortido (White Salmon, Washington). A sauerkraut popular in Salvadoran cuisine, the organic kraut is made with cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic and spices.

Bourbon Barrel Foods – Imperial Double Fermented Soy Sauce (Louisville, Kentucky). Naturally brewed, double fermented soy sauce. It is aged in bourbon barrels and features earthy flavors. 

California Fish Sauce – Koji Fish Sauce (Pleasanton, California). The first fish sauce in the U.S. that is compliant with FDA and FDB regulations, from harvesting anchovies to fermentation and finished product. 

Capriole – Sofia (Greenville, Indiana). A sweet, dense, ripened goat cheese from local goats.

Cascadia Creamery – Sleeping Beauty (Trout Lake, Washington). A buttery and sharp cheese with a natural rind, aged 75 to 100 days. 

Case Coffee Roasters – Ethiopia Dimtu (Ashland, Oregon). Sustainably sourced coffee from beans all over the globe. Roasted in small batches for sweeter, complex flavors. 

Casella’s Salumi Speciali – Casella’s Prosciutto Speciale (Hurleyville, New York). An American made meat made using Italian tradition. Slow, on-the-bone curing.

Castronovo Chocolate – Tumaco, Colombia Dark Milk 60% (Stuart, Florida). A dark milk chocolate made with cocoa from the Pacific coast of Colombia. The cacao beans are foraged in indigenous forests, then fermented and dried in an onsite facility using solar panels. 

Champlain Orchards Cidery – Honeycrisp (Shoreham, Vermont). A single-varietal cider using fresh-pressed Honeycrisp apples. All apples are pressed, fermented, and crafted at the orchard.

Champlain Orchards Cidery – Redfield – Estate Series (Shoreham, Vermont). Made with estate grown Redfield apples. These red crab apple hybrids create a fragrant, sour cherry flavor.

Chequessett Chocolate – White Lemon Thyme Bar (North Truro, Massachusetts). A white chocolate with lemon and thyme, the chocolate-making process begins with high-quality beans, then a flavor developed during fermentation. 

Cherry Grove Farm – Havilah (Lawrenceville, Nj, New Jersey). Cheese from the cows at Cherry Grove Farm, a sustainable farm. Batches are aged 14 to 16 months. 

Cleophus Quealy Beer Company – Frambozenbier (San Leandro, California). Sour red ale barrel-aged with raspberries. Small batches are brewed seven barrels at a time. 

Compelling Coffee – Ethiopia Bedhatu Jibicho (Los Angeles, California). Beans are fermented in ceramic tile tanks filled with clean spring water for 24 hours. The beans are then fermented a second time for another 24 hours. 

Creo Chocolate – Caramelized Milk Chocolate (Portland, Oregon). The fruit inside the cacao bean is fermented for 4- 7 days to bring out the flavor of the beans.

Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea – Kossa Kebena (Columbus, Ohio). From Crimson Cup’s line of Friend2Farmer direct-trade coffees, Kossa Kebena is produced from heirloom cacao beans naturally fermented on raised beds. 

Cutwater Spirits – Three Sheets Cask Strength Rum (San Diego, California). Crafted from pure cane sugar rather than molasses, the rum is distilled in a hybrid pot-and-column still.

Daniel’s Artisan – Bonneville (Ferndale, Washington). Traditional, artisan cheese made through Ferndale Farmstead cheese company. Ferndale uses a seed-to-cheese philosophy, only using milk they produce from cows they raise, fed from crops they grow. 

Equator Coffees – Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Gesha (San Rafael, California). A light roast sustainably sourced from Panama, it features flavors of peach, apricot and Meyer lemon. 

Falcon Spirits Distillery – Aperitivo Aplomado (Richmond, California). A blend of 26 high-quality herbs, roots, flowers and fruits with no artificial flavors. Made in small batches that take two months to create.

Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Foods – Salame Toscano (Berkeley, California). All natural pork made in the Tuscan tradition. 

Fruition Chocolate – Spring Salted Dark Milk 56% (Shokan, New York). Seeds from pods are fermented in bins and covered with burlap or banana leaves for 3-8 days.

Fullsteam – Farm’s Edge: Barrel-Aged Ava (Durham, North Carolina). A mixed culture saison made with foraged wild grape leaves and elderflower and rested in red wine barrels. 

Goat Rock Cider Company – Rosé Cider (Healdsburg, California). A fruit cider made by co-fermenting local, organic apples with Hawaiian passion fruit.

Goodnow Farms Chocolate – Special Reserve with Las Palomas Coffee (Sudbury, Massachusetts). A single-origin coffee and cacao bar, the chocolate is a fruity flavor thanks to the Guatemalan coffee beans. 

Gowan’s Heirloom Cider – Macintosh Applewine Cider (Philo, California). A farm-to-table cider, the Macintosh apples used in the cider are grown at Gowan orchards to be pressed, fermented and bottled at the farm.

Gowan’s Heirloom Cider – Gravenstein Cider (Philo, California). Called summer in a glass, the cider is made using fresh Gravenstein apples from the farm’s heritage orchards. 

Green Dirt Farm – Fresh – Plain (Weston, Missouri). A fresh, spreadable cheese.

Gypsy Circus Cider Company – PuppetMaster: Whiskey Barrel Vaudevillian (Kingsport, Tennessee). A wild cider aged in whisky barrels for 15 months with apricots.

H+S Coffee Roasters – Kenya Chwele (Laramie, Wyoming). A Kenyan coffee with complex flavors of raspberry, black plum, sour skin, cherry taffy, mango, tropical fruits and stone fruits.

Hemly Cider – Sloughouse Jalapeno Pear Cider (Courtland, California). Made on a six-generation farm, the cider starts with hand-picked Bartlett pears blended with estate grown Gala apples. 

HOSAco – The Standard Fermented Hot Sauce (Bellingham, Washington). A condiment made in small batches with all-natural ingredients. Chiles are hand processed and fermented for a minimum of six weeks.

Idyll Farms – Mont Idyll (Northport, Michigan). Named a “Best Artisanal Cheese” by Food & Wine Magazine, the soft ripened rind is delicately painted with vegetable ash. 

Incontro Cured – Salame di Bue (Richmond, California). Made from a Sanke River Farms American Wagyu. 

Incontro Cured – Salame Sicilia (Richmond, California). Salame honoring the Sicilian lineage, it’s made from ingredients growing wildly throughout the Island of Sicily, Italy.

JAZ Spirits – Cold Tree Gin (Clackamas, Oregon). Inspired by the elegant old growth forests of Oregon, a spirit crafted with flavors of botanical, fruit and old tree harvests. 

JAZ Spirits – Verstovia Spruce Tip Vodka (Clackamas, Oregon). A vodka foraged from the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest, distilled with the fresh green tips of Sitka Spruce trees.

​JBC Coffee Roasters – Janson Geisha Lot #109 (Madison, Wisconsin). Direct trade coffee that is named one of the best coffee roasters by Forbes. 

Kickapoo Coffee – Kenya Mbeguka (Viroqua, Wisconsin). Made with a Kenyan coffee bean, the coffee is made with a dry fermentation.

Klatch Coffee – Colombia Finca La Maria Geisha Natural (Rancho Cucamonga, California). The highest-scoring coffee at the 2019 U.S. Brewing Championships, the coffee has flavor notes of raspberry, black tea and floral flavors.

KMN Enterprises – K Bloody Mary Mix (Brooklyn, New York). Made in small batches using 87% organic ingredients. 

Lakefront Brewing – Beerline Barleywine (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). The nation’s first organic barrel-aged barley wine in the U.S., the beer is held for 18 months in rye whiskey barrels.

Leopold Bros – Summer Gin (Denver, Colorado). Ingredients include Spanish blood oranges, French immortal flowers, juniper berries and Australian lemon myrtle. 

Letherbee Distillers – Original Label Gin (Chicago, Illinois). Gin incorporated with a blend of 11 botanical spirits. 

Liberty Ciderworks – English Style IV (Spokane, Washington).Classic cider in a aroma-rich, English-style cider.

Linea – Guatemala El Injerto Reserve (San Francisco, California).Coffee from Guatemala’s first carbon-neutral certified farm. 

Little Apple Treats – Strawberry + Pink Peppercorn Shrub (Sebastopol, California). Fresh, organic strawberries and fresh, organic pink peppercorn leaves and fruit combine with award-winning apple cider vinegar. It contains live vinegar mother, so it’s potent with probiotics.

Little Beast Brewing – Bes – Tart Wheat Ale (Beaverton, Oregon). Brewed with Belgian malts, Lemon Drop Hops and chamomile flower then fermented with a blend of unique Saccharomyces yeast and conditioned with Lactobacillus. 

Little Beast Brewing – Golden Stone (Beaverton, Oregon). A blend of peaches, nectarines and apricots gives a luscious elegance to this farmhouse ale. Prevailing notes of vanilla, toasted French oak & juicy stone fruit.

Loma Coffee – Ethiopia Shantawene Village – Anaerobic Process (Portland, Oregon). Heirloom coffee from Ethiopia, this coffee is anaerobic fermented and tastes floral, sweet and complex.

Love Hard, Inc. – Jojo’s Sriracha – OG (Pueblo, Colorado). Handmade Sriracha made with chile peppers from small farms in Pueblo, Colorado. The chili peppers are harvested in-season and fermented for several months. 

Madrone Cider – The Reserve Blend (Friday Harbor, Washington). Naturally fermented in bottle, apples are sourced from Bellevue Farms on San Juan Island, Washington. The hard cider apples are bred specifically for flavor. 

Mudhouse Coffee Roasters – Moras Negras, Mi Finquita Coffee Farm (Charlottesville, Virginia). A sundried, natural processing style, the coffee features complex fruit and floral flavors. 

My Artisano Cheeses – Ervie Cheese (Cincinnati, Ohio). Washed rind soft cheese with balanced cream, and yeasty notes. Amild version of Belgian washed rind cheeses.

Napili Fresh Local Organic Farm – Pineapple, Ginger, Turmeric Sauerkraut (Lahaina, Hawaii). Artisanal, naturally fermented sauerkraut made in Hawaii with organic ingredients. 

Napili Fresh Local Organic Farm – Gut Shots (Lahaina, Hawaii). Kimchi gut shots handcrafted in Maui. 

Nettle Meadow Farm – Kunik (Warrensburg, New York). Artisanal goat cheese made on a 100-acre farm.

Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters – Carmen Geisha (Dallas, Texas). A micro-roaster, the Carmen Geisha is a small batch sourced from Finca Carmen in Volcán, Panama

OlyKraut – Eastern European Sauerkraut (Olympia, Washington). One of the most popular flavors, the caraway seeds and apple give it a distinct flavor in the live probiotic kraut.

OlyKraut – Organic Smoke & Kale Sauerkraut (Olympia, Washington). Combines smoked chiles with local kale bounty from Pacific Northwest farmers.

Olympia Provisions – Chorizo Rioja (Portland, Oregon). A Spanish-style salami with both sweet and smoked paprika, garlic and oregano.

Olympia Provisions – Rosette de Oregon (Portland, Oregon). A French-inspired salami made with all Oregon ingredients: Oregon pork, pinot noir, rosemary, juniper, and sea salt.  

Oregon Brineworks – Sauerkraut (Hood River, Oregon). Naturally fermented, raw sauerkraut made with organic, lacto-fermented vegetables. 

Pagosa Brewing & Grill – Cool Cucumber Wheat (Pagosa Springs, Colorado). A fruit beer infused with fresh cucumbers.

Pappy & Company – Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel Aged Pure Maple Syrup (Louisville, Kentucky). A one-of-a-kind syrup bursting with flavors of vanilla, butter, oak and bourbon. Aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels.

Patric Chocolate – 67% Madagascar (Columbia, Missouri). A limited release bar made from American craft chocolate company from the cocoa bean. 

Patric Chocolate – 67% Piura Peru (Columbia, Missouri). Peru cacao beans create chocolate with ruby grapefruit, toasted almonds and sun-dried wine grapes. 

Pennyroyal Farm – Reserve Boont Corners (Boonville, California). Made of fresh, raw milk, it is inspired by French cheese as a means of preserving nutrients from the abundant summer milk.

Penstock Coffee – Taaroo Mill, Ethiopia (Highland Park, New Jersey). The coffee is fermented for 24-36 hours, then dried for 12-20 days. The coffee is intensely sweet with heavy fruits. 

Perennial Artisan Ales – Giant Steps: Blend 2 (St. Louis, Missouri). A 50/50 blend of two distinct threads: Half puncheon fermented mixed culture saison with grapefruit zest and juice, and half barrel fermented clean saison aged on 2nd use raspberries and blackberries.

Port City Brewing Company – Optimal Wit (Alexandria, Virginia). A  a Belgian Witbier style beer, Optimal Wit includes ingredients like Virginia-grown wheat, Spanish orange peels, and coriander.

Port City Brewing Company – Rivershed Ale (Alexandria, Virginia). An American Pale Ale (APA) style beer, Rivershed Ale is dry-hopped with 100% locally sourced grain.

PUSH X PULL COFFEE – Ethiopia Sidama Shantawene Anaerobic Process (Portland, Oregon). Ethiopian coffee with flavors of strawberries and tangerine.

Real Pickles – Organic Nettle Kraut (Greenfield, Massachusetts). Naturally fermented, small batch kraut, infused with Vermont nettles. 

Real Pickles – Organic Beet Kvass (Greenfield, Massachusetts). Fermented infusion of beets, onions and savory herbs.

Red Rooster Coffee Roaster – Ethiopia Nansebo Worka (Floyd, Virginia). This washed process organic coffee is sourced from the Zenebe Simbret Washing Station, Flavors include honeysuckle and rose aroma, sweet ripe plum, fresh apricot and pomegranate acidity.

Reuben’s Brews – Hazealicious IPA (Seattle, Washington). An IPA with tropical fruit notes, in particular passion fruit. The stars of the show are the big, bright hops with restrained bitterness providing balance.

Reverend Al’s Bona Fide Potents – Strawberry Peppercorn Shrub (Tacoma, Washington). Reverend Al’s Bona Fide Potents are a collection of all natural, nearly mystical, alchemetical concoctions– magical bitters, elixirs, tinctures and shrubs. Made with locally grown fruits and vegetables from family farms. 

Salt and Savour – Apple Ginger Sauerkraut (Dunsmuir, California). Fermented, organic sauerkraut, handcrafted in small batches.

Salute! – Vicario Amore Mio Aperitivo (Greer, South Carolina). Made with a 115-year-old recipe using “vanishing” herbs, hard to find herbal ingredients that Salute now grows themselves.

Shrub Farm – Ginger & Hawaiian Chili Shrub (Bellingham, Washington). A spicy ginger and chili shrub. Shelf stable with a living culture with the Mother of vinegar.

Sierra Nevada Cheese Company – Bella Capra Raw Milk Monterrey Jacques (Willows, California). Made with raw cultured goat’s milk, the “complex array of flavors” results from “naturally occurring healthy micro-organisms present in our fresh milk.” 

SILO Distillery – Vodka (Windsor, Vermont). Made with 100% Vermont corn, gluten-free and non-GMO.

Smoking Goose Meatery – Whey Fed Dodge City Salame (Indianapolis, Indiana). Old world style of meat curing with a new world flavor. The Dodge City Salame is a pork salame of fennel pollen and pink peppercorns.

Smoking Goose Meatery – Duck Prosciutto (Indianapolis, Indiana). Moulard duck breast with star anise, allspice and orange peel.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers – Bootleggers Black Lager (San Francisco, California). Founded in 1997, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers is a San Francisco craft brewery bringing great beer from the underground to the masses. The brewery makes year-round and limited release beers.

Speckled Ax Wood Roasted Coffee – Ethiopia Jebicho (Portland, Maine). Coffee roaster in a vintage Italian Petroncini fired with local hardwood.

Spirit Works Distillery – Sloe Gin (Sebastopol, California). “Batch by batch – grain to glass.” Made with sloe berries, the crimson-colored gin has a unique sweet-and-sour taste.

Spyhouse Coffee Roasting Co. – Juan Domingo / Guatemala (Minneapolis, Minnesota). Rich flavors of chocolate hazelnut and deep fruitiness.

Steady State Roasting – La Pradera Mokka  (Carlsbad, California). A Colombian coffee from the mokka tree.

Stem Ciders – New Hampshire Heritage (Lafayette, Colorado). Unfiltered cider made from a blend of bittersharp and bittersweet heirloom apples from a local orchard. 

Stonecutter Spirits – Heritage Cask Whiskey (Middlebury, Vermont). The Heritage Cask Whiskey is distilled in Kentucky like a bourbon, aged in Vermont like an Irish whiskey, and finished like a Scotch.

Stormalong Cider – Light of the Sun (Sherborn, Massachusetts). A citrusy, refreshing cider dry-hopped with Citra & Ekaunot hops. At the time of dry-hopping, Stormalong Cider adds guava to enhance the tropical, citrusy taste which is on the drier side.

Sugar Bob’s Finest Kind – Smoked Maple Sriracha (Londonderry, Vermont). Made with real maple syrup, this all natural Smoked Maple Sriracha has become a cult favorite in the state.

Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters – Mario Alarcon (Lakewood, Colorado). Specialty, ethical, sustainable coffee with limited release flavors, like Mario Alarcon.

The Cottage – Pickled West Indian Gherkin (Bluffton, South Carolina). Pickling cucumbers from The Cottage, a cafe and tea room founded in 1868.

The Juice Hive & Health Emporium – Shiso, Sweet Potato and Asian Sour Leaf Kimchi (Bluffton, South Carolina). A kimchi from the natural foods store. 

The Juice Hive & Health Emporium – Watermelon Rind Kimchi (Bluffton, South Carolina). Another unique kimchi flavor from the natural foods store.

Top of the Hill Distillery – Organic Carolina Straight Wheat Whiskey (Chapel Hill, North Carolina). Made from North Carolina-grown wheat and U.S.-grown sugar cane. Fermented and distilled on-site in the distillery. 

Treaty Oak Distilling – Ghost Hill Bourbon (Dripping Springs, Texas). Ghost Hill Bourbon is a unique whiskey made with local heirloom grains. A genuine grain to glass bourbon, it is mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled, aged 2 years and bottled on-site.

Underground Meats – Calabrian 3 Ways Salami (Madison, Wisconsin). Wisconsin-grown calabrian chillies, prepared three different ways

Urban Tree Hard Cider – Habanero Haze (Atlanta, Georgia). Spicy ginger infusion with hints of habanero zest. 

Vibrant Coffee Roasters – Ethiopia Ardi Organic – Washed (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). An organic Ethiopian coffee with citrus and sweet floral flavors. 

Virtue Cider – The Mitten (Fennville, Michigan). A Michigan cider blend of last season’s pressed apples, aged in Bourbon barrels for up to one year, then back sweetened with this year’s fresh pressed apple juice. The Mitten has notes of vanilla, caramel, and charred oak.

Virtue Cider – Michigan Cherry (Fennville, Michigan). Michigan Cherry blends last year’s harvest of Michigan apples from local orchards that are aged in French oak barrels. Fresh-pressed juice from Michigan cherries is then added.

Vista Brewing – Stonewall Belgian Lambic-Style Ale with Texas Peaches (Driftwood, Texas). Lambic-style ale with Texas peaches.

Volpi Foods – Heritage Prosciutto (St. Louis, Missouri). Our heritage prosciutto is hand-rubbed, salted & air dried for a perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Waialua Estate Chocolate – Hawaiian Milk Chocolate (Wahiawa, Hawaii). Waialua Estate’s Hawaiian cacao is grown along the banks of the Kaukonahua stream. Flavors include banana and pineapple notes, and flavors of dark cherry, berry and raisins.

White Label Chocolate – 58% Brown Butter Milk (Santa Cruz, California). Single origin chocolate bars fermented in a pair box design. 

WildCraft Cider Works – Pisgah Heritage (Eugene, Oregon). Traditional farmhouse cider made with apples and English Hawthorne berries & blossoms.

Wise Goat Organics – Super Green Kraut (Hollister, California). Probiotic rich and full of raw, live cultures. Super Green Kraut is full of organic greens: cabbage, nettles, cilantro, morenga, spinach, parsley, chickweed and dandelion.

“Fermenting foods requires attention to detail and knowledge that not everyone has,” reads an article in the Greenfield Recorder in New England. The newspaper featured Jim Wallace, recipe developer at New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. Wallace says, to be a fermenter, “You have to be a bit of a mad scientist. (As) a mad scientist, you need to be answering questions.” In his home fermentation cellar, Wallace ferments wine, cheese, beer, kombucha and vegetables. He also teaches workshops, classes that have become more popular as more people tap into fermentation “a global food phenomenon — renewed interest in resurrecting forgotten food tradition.”

Read more (Greenfield Recorder)

Taming the Wild Cheese Fungus

By: The American Society for Microbiology 

The flavors of fermented foods are heavily shaped by the fungi that grow on them, but the evolutionary origins of those fungi aren’t well understood. Experimental findings published this week in mBio offer microbiologists a new view on how those molds evolve from wild strains into the domesticated ones used in food production. 

In the paper, microbiologists report that wild-type Penicillium molds can evolve quickly so that after a matter of weeks these strains closely resembled their domesticated cousin, Penicillium camemberti, the mold that gives camembert cheese its distinctive flavor. The study shows how a fungus can remodel its metabolism over a short amount of time; it also demonstrates a strategy for probing the evolution of other cultures used in food, said study leader and microbiologist Dr. Benjamin Wolfe, Ph.D., a member of the The Fermentation Association advisory board.

“In fermented foods, there’s a lot of potential for microbes to evolve and change over time,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe’s lab at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., focuses on microbial diversity in fermented foods, but he says the new experiments began with an accidental discovery. His lab had been growing and studying Penicillium commune, a bluish, wild-type fungus well-known for spoiling cheese and other foods. Wolfe likens its smell to a damp basement. 

But over time, researchers noticed changes in some of the lab dishes containing the stinky mold. “Over a very short time, that funky, blue, musty-smelling fungus stopped making toxins,” Wolfe said. The cultures lost their bluish hue and turned white; they smelled like fresh grass and began to look more P. camemberti. “That suggested it could really change quickly in some environments,” he said.

To study that evolution in real-time, Wolfe and his collaborators collected fungal samples from a cheese cave in Vermont that had been colonized by wild strains of Penicillium molds. The researchers grew the molds in lab dishes containing cheese curds. In some dishes, the wild mold was grown alone; in others, it was grown alongside microbes that are known competitors in the fierce world of cheese colonization. 

After one week, Wolfe said, the molds appeared blue-green and fuzzy—virtually unchanged—in all the experimental tests. But over time, in the dishes where the mold grew alone, its appearance changed. Within three or four weeks of serial passage, during which mold populations were transferred to new dishes containing cheese curds, 30-40 percent of the mold samples began to look more like P. camemberti. In some dishes, it grew whiter and smoother; in others, less fuzzy. (In the competitive test cases, the wild mold did not evolve as quickly or noticeably.) 

In follow-up analyses, Wolfe and his team tried to identify genomic mutations that might explain the quick evolution but didn’t find any obvious culprits. “It’s not necessarily just genetic,” Wolfe said. “There’s something about growing in this cheese environment that likely flips an epigenetic switch. We don’t know what triggers it, and we don’t know how stable it is.” 

Researchers suspect that the microbes used in most fermented foods—including cheese, but also beer, wine, sake, and others—were unintentionally domesticated, and that they evolved different flavors and textures in reaction to growing in a food environment. Wolfe says his lab’s study suggests that wild strains could be domesticated intentionally to produce new kinds of artisanal foods. 

Starting with cheese, of course. “The fungi that are used to make American camembert are French,” said Wolfe, “but maybe we can go out and find wild strains, bring them into the lab, and domesticate them. We could have a diverse new approach to making cheese in the United States.” 
 ###
The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of more than 30,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM’s mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

One question commonly posed by consumers starting to eat fermented products: How do I incorporate fermentation into my daily meals?

Alana Holloway, founder of Fermented By Lab, provides a great overview on how she uses fermented food and drinks. Hollaway’s food diary illustrates that it’s possible to include fermentation as a key element to every meal. Her simple meals are easy, delicious and highlight ways the average consumer can pair fermented food and drink with their regular food. Her dairy is also a great example of creative marketing fermented food brands can use to showcase ways to use their food. 

Here’s Alana’s food diary, showcasing what she eats to keep her gut in good health.

Approach to food: I love to eat intuitively, according to the seasons… not only that, but according to the weather and how I’m feeling on any given day.  After a lifelong battle with eczema, I have now found the key to managing it with the right foods for my body, and a complimentary lifestyle, too.  I like to maintain a balanced, healthy gut and so eat/drink ferments every day… just as well I run a company that makes them!

Food Diary:

DAY 1 – FRIDAY

I tend to start day with about a pint of warm water. I really find it gives me immediate energy following sleep.  I’m really not a lover of cold water, so will always drink it at room temperature or warm/hot. 

I usually have breakfast about 10.30 as I struggle to eat too early in the morning.  I like to allow my body time to build up a good hunger!  Now that Spring is here, I’ve swapped my porridge for smoothies.  This morning’s is organic cooked beetroot (I cook up a batch and then freeze it for smoothies), organic frozen strawberries from last Summer, a green banana, which is a great source of prebiotic fibre, coconut yoghurt, goats milk Kefir for the all-important probiotics, Plenish cashew milk (my favourite) and a little raw honey for a some more prebiotic love! I also take an omega 3 supplement; generally speaking, I’m not a massive supplement advocate and prefer to get what I need from my diet, but as I am prone to really dry skin, I find this one helps.  

I grab a small handful of Brazil nuts as I head out the door.

At 1pm I have a chunk of goats Gouda and another pint on warm water whilst waiting for my lunch to cook.  I can tell it’s going to be a hungry day for me today! 

At 1.30, I have a lunch of sliced avocado roasted chickpeas with nigella seeds, soft boiled egg, roasted sweet potato, Fennel + Lemon Kraut from the Fermented by LAB Spring Collection, steamed broccoli & kale.

3.30 small glass of Kombucha as I need a bit of a kick!

At 7pm I have dinner – it’s lentil Dahl with Carrot + Coriander Kraut from last year’s Autumn Box (one of my favourite things about fermenting foods is getting to eat them months later!)

I drink a Golden Mylk before bed and soak some oats for tomorrow morning’s porridge… I mentioned Spring too early and hear it’s due to snow tomorrow!

DAY 2 – SATURDAY

10am – I start the day with two huge mugs of warm/hot water again and follow it with the porridge I soaked last night.  I always soak my grains/pulses/legumes to make them easier on my digestive system. My porridge toppings are roasted rhubarb, coconut yoghurt, a little raw honey and some chopped Brazil’s. 

3pm – Lunch is a chunk of goat’s milk Gouda (I can’t get enough of it!) and roasted broccoli, carrot, fennel, sweet potato and nigella seeds with a soft-boiled egg (again!)  Despite it being the weekend, I’m working and need something easy to cook which doesn’t require too much thought!

5pm – I have a bottle of Red Grapefruit + Rosemary Kefir from the Spring Box.  I’m lucky enough to be able to delve into a good selection of seasonal ferments… it means I don’t get bored with eating the same Kraut all the time!

7pm – I try to stop eating by 8pm so that I can give my digestive system a break overnight.  As I had a late lunch, I’m not overly hungry so make a beetroot, carrot (both cooked and frozen), blackcurrant, green banana and goats kefir smoothie and have a mug of chicken bone broth.

I drink a small Golden Milk just before bed.  They really relax me and as I have a history of eczema, find they really help keep my inflammation at bay.

Best piece of advice about health + wellbeing?

Don’t search for all the answers in one place.  Every day, I try to remind myself that it’s not just about a healthy diet, a good exercise regimen, good quality sleep or daily meditation practice, for example, it’s a combination of all of them that allows you to live your healthiest and happiest life.

Starbucks Japan has a new drink: Lemon Yogurt Fermented Frappuccino. The inventive flavor contains three different fermented ingredients – can you guess what they are? Yogurt, cheese and amazake, a fermented rice drink. The yogurt is in the drink’s base, the cheese is in the shortbread topping and the amazake is in the lemon curd sauce. Writes Japan Today: “Fermenting is a process which has deep roots all over Japan, and Starbucks hopes this beverage can act as a little tribute to that tradition.”

Read more (Japan Today)

Craft cheese sales lag behind craft beer sales, despite the similarities in the two industries. Craft beer sales in America totaled $27.6 billion in 2018, while craft cheese sales totaled $4 billion. Experts tell VinePair why cheese doesn’t keep up with beer’s growth: cheese’s short lifespan (less than two months), greater risk of cheese mishandling by a distributor during the supply chain and the high price of artisan cheese. What can a cheese brand do? Experts advise increasing social media promotion. Craft beer has thrived on social media because people love seeing the hops being picked, brewers experimenting near the fermentation tank and the beer displayed in glassware. Craft cheese brands don’t self promote the same creation process, like a goat that made the milk or a family that runs the dairy farm. Cheese brands could also benefit from better merchandising, experts say. Beer labels are constantly and creatively changed and updated, but cheese labels remain the same for years.

Read more (VinePair)

It’s absurd to call fermentation a new food trend, says Sandor Ellix Katz, author of “The Art of Fermentation” and “Wild Fermentation.” Fermenting practices date back to early man. But, after decades of active pasteurization and a war on bacteria, fermentation is experiencing an awareness as a food phenomenon, Katz says.

Katz – who calls himself Sandorkraut, the fermentation revivalist – spoke at a TEDx Talk in Sao Paulo on wild fermentation and the power of bacteria. Coffee, bread, cheese, beer, wine – Katz points to these as examples of “the greatest delicacies that people around the world enjoy, products of fermentation that have never gone out of style and have not recently just come into style.”

No one needs to master biology or study microorganisms to practice fermentation, Katz stresses. Before microbiology became a field, fermentation historically was viewed as mysterious or mythical because no one understood the mechanisms of it. He adds: “I cannot find one single example of a culinary tradition anywhere the does not incorporate fermentation.”

Microbiology has illuminated and harmed fermentation. For decades, the information surrounding bacteria and microorganisms was negative. People were taught the dangers of bacteria and disease – and grew to fear fermentation. But discoveries in microbiology also found that everything we eat, plant and animal, is populated by microorganisms. All life is descended and created from bacteria.

“In a way, we’re bacteria super structures,” Katz said. “For the first time, from the scientific analysis, we began to understand that fermentation is the transformative action of microorganisms.”

Fermentation often gets a bad reputation because people consider fermenting the process rotten or spoiled food. But fermentation is manipulating environmental conditions to encourage the growth of good organisms and discourage the growth of bad organisms, Katz explains.

“Fermentation is making food that is more stable than the raw product of agriculture that we began with,” Katz says. “We’re creating something that is more delicious, we’re creating something that is more easily digestible, we’re creating something where some toxic compound in the food and the otherwise dangerous food is made safe.”

For the first time in history, science is revealing the benefit of eating the live bacteria in fermented foods. The prevalence of antibiotic drugs, antibacterial cleaning products and chlorinated water now kill all bacteria in food. This war on bacteria narrows the diversity of bacteria in our intestines, Katz points out.

“If they were to kill all those microorganisms, we couldn’t possibly exist because we rely on those microorganisms for our digestion, for our immune system, our ability to withstand disease our brain chemistry,” he says. “Yet this chemical exposure…narrows biodiversity that we have inside of us.”

Katz focuses his work on public education of fermentation, helping shed light on its safety and effectiveness. More people today are seeking fermented foods because of the growing recognition of the benefits fermentation, Katz says. He teaches that the greatest benefit of fermented products are the bacteria themselves. Eating fermented foods – foods that haven’t been cooked or heat processed, since that kills the bacteria – restores the biodiversity in our intestines.

“In addition to being this important mode of transformation of food and beverages which enables people to make effective use of the food resources that are available to them, fermentation is also an engine of social change. And all of us are the starter cultures,” Katz said.

The fermentation industry is on the cusp of a renaissance. Engaged consumers are seeking functional food and drink with health benefits. And fermented products provide the nutritional value and unique flavors today’s consumers crave.

Staff at The Fermentation Association attended Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif. this month. Expo West is the world’s largest organic and natural healthy products event, and we spent four days with 88,000 other attendees listening to industry experts in education sessions and meeting fermented food and beverage brands on the show floor.

Here are six takeaways from Expo West for the fermentation industry:

 

  1. Natural Products are King. Natural food and beverages grew 6.6 percent in 2018, for a total of $152 billion in sales, according to info from the Nutrition Business Journal. The category is growing so much that organic supply is lagging behind consumer demand. Meanwhile, for the first time in history, the conventional food and beverage category began to shrink last year.
  2. Major Focus on Gut and Microbiome Health. Once terms only used by scientists, prebiotics and probiotics are at the forefront of consumer’s grocery list. Digestive health is critical for modern consumers, as more nutritionists focus on the gastrointestinal tract’s critical immune system support. Consumers want food and drinks that nourish their microbiome. Sales numbers show people are moving away from purchasing pills and supplements to aid their gut; they’re instead looking for prebiotics and probiotics in actual food.
  3. Ancient Foods are Experiencing a Revival. The future of food is in practices of the past. From turmeric, ashwagandha, ghee and fermentation, the foods of our ancestors are back on our plates. These old-world cooking styles and ingredients are standing the test of time and coming back in modern cuisine.
  4. Industry is Selling to Educated Consumers. Today’s consumers know more about the food they eat than ever before. Consumers are studying ingredient lists, seeking product sources and researching brands. Clean food and clean labels are not a trend; they’re a movement. People are becoming more aware of the dangers of eating processed food. They want nutritious ingredients from ethical brands. The functional health benefits of fermented products are piquing consumer interest.
  5. Snacking Trumps Mealtime. Snacking today is a $1.2 trillion-dollar industry. The modern consumer is busy, and convenience food readily accessible in a grab-and-go format is a grocery store staple. Snacking in 2019 is not filling up on a soda and a bag of fried chips. Consumers want healthy, fresh snacks, especially refrigerated snacks in the produce aisle. This is great news for fermented brands. Grabbing a bottle of kombucha or kefir and a bag of snacking pickles or miso soup fits into the convenient dining lifestyle.
  6. Brands Need More Plant-Based Products. A major shift in food philosophy, more consumers are buying plant-based products – whether or not they’re vegetarian or vegan. Plant-based options are becoming tastier and readily available. Brands are experimenting with fermenting vegetables for plant-based cheeses, spreads, sauces and drinks.

It’s an exciting time for fermented food and beverage producers. The aromatic, tangy flavors and healthy, live bacteria in fermented products are qualities propelling fermentation to become one of the most popular food categories.