What is fermentation?
Fermentation is possibly the oldest form of food preservation other than drying. Some have argued that it is the basis for all human civilization. We find ancient scholars from Confucius to Pliny the Elder extolling the longevity and nutritional value of fermented vegetables. But the origin of these ferments certainly predates even these millennia – handed down through oral accounts, originating in the forests and deserts that housed cultures whose history has been commuted through traditions of dance, song and cuisine, rather than the written word.
People often hear ‘sauerkraut’ and picture a plastic bag of almost-translucent, nutritionally void and vinegary cabbage. In contrast, our process, allows for a fresh tasting, nutritionally dense and probiotic product that is hailed by many as a digestive health aid and immune system booster.
Lacto-fermentation, the type of fermentation used in making our products, uses bacteria that is naturally present in soil and vegetables. It has been practiced by almost every culture throughout time with the only difference being the type of vegetables used and the length of fermentation time. The process provides an ideal environment for good bacteria to thrive, convert the sugars in plant material into lactic acid and carbon dioxide, and subsequently transform the flavor, texture, aroma and chemical make-up of the vegetables. The lactic acid inhibits decay by creating an increased acidic environment where decay cannot occur and thereby stabilizes the storage environment -a nod to why it is widely used in food preservation. It is no coincidence that our products are extremely beneficial to our digestive system. While helping to preserve food, lactic acid simultaneously helps to break down food making it easier on the digestive system. Humans and beneficial bacteria coexist together!
Apart from providing our products with impressively complex flavors and the beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus!) that our bodies need to maintain a balanced ‘inner economy’, fermentation also…
- preserves theVitamin C already present in some vegetables
- throws Vitamins B & K into the mix
- predigests some of the plant material, making even more nutritive properties available to our bodies
Cultured vs Wild Fermentation
Frequently asked questions:
For questions regarding tempeh please check out our TEMPEH FAQ page here.
Do I have to refrigerate my kimchi or sauerkraut?
Yes, you have to keep it in the refrigerator, just like you would with yogurt. It is a raw product and the refrigeration serves to slow down the fermentation process.
Is this made with vinegar?
No, that is what makes our products unique -except for the addition of vinegar post-pepper fermentation into our Louisiana style hot sauce (Aura Solanales) -that complex tangy flavor is from the all-natural lacto-fermentation process.
How long will it keep for?
Indefinitely, as long as it is in the refrigerator and the vegetables are fully under the brine. It’s like that age-old saying “If it’s in the brine, it’s fine! If it’s in the air, beware!” (David Klingenberger, 2010). Our krauts, kimchi & pickles will only spoil if the vegetables are above the brine and make contact with air, of course, whatever is under the brine is fine, just dispose of the spoiled layer. We do, however, offer ‘best-by’ dates on all of our products to serve as a guide.
Why does it bubble when I open my jar?
The Brinery products are all raw and have not been canned, pasteurized or heat processed in any way, therefore they come to you alive- beneficial bacteria ready to stimulate your inner economy! The fermentation process only slows when it is refrigerated, so what you are seeing when you open your jar is the natural process of fermentation occurring right before your eyes!
What do you add to start the fermentation process?
Just a little salt! Lactic bacteria is naturally occurring on the surface of all vegetables and is triggered into action by the salt brine.
Where can I find your products?
The first place to look is the Ann Arbor Farmer’s market, that is our home base and we are there all year! You can also find us in stores and restaurants throughout the midwest (Michigan & Illinois primarily with a couple of places in Wisconsin & Missouri as well). Can’t seem to track down a jar of our ferments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do about getting our products onto shelves nearby. Requests from customers go a long way in stores and restaurants.. so let them know you want to see The Brinery there!
Do you take your glassware back?
We encourage you to re-use this vessel for your own storage and decorative needs. We currently don’t have the ability to wash & re-sanitize jars for resale/reuse.
Do you have nutritional information available for your products?
We do for some products, but not all of them yet (we’re working on it!). See below for available information (subject to change):
zy·mol·o·gy (Source: Dictionary.com)
[zahy-mol-uh-jee] –noun Biochemistry.
(formerly) the science dealing with fermentation and the action of enzymes; enzymology.