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Fun with Fermentation 2012

What comes to mind when you think of fermented foods?  Perhaps it is that dusty old jar of sauerkraut you keep pushing around the pantry shelf.  After attending the Fun with Fermentation Festival last Saturday, I can tell you that the fermented foods of today are fresh, abundant and exciting.  With over a dozen local food and beverage producers in attendance, there was certainly some sauerkraut to be seen, (and tasted), and a whole lot more.

Held at the historic WOW Hall, the festival is hosted by Willamette Valley Sustainable Foods Alliance (WVSFA) and is a benefit for Food for Lane Countyand WVSFA.  What a great way to have fun and do good!

           After donating our cans of food and getting our hands stamped for admission, our first tasty tidbit was some of Cousin Jacks Steak and Ale Pasty.

  We got to chat with owner, Kim, who reminded us that the ale in their delicious pasty, courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing, is one of the oldest known fermented beverages!

Our next stop was at the Pickled Planet table where we tried one of their seasonal specialty blends, Blueberry Love Bomb.

 Fermented blueberries?  Yes.  This will take your next salad to new heights.

Moving on, we sipped some Love Potion #9 from Herbal Junction Elixirs, an intoxicating fermented herbal beverage with saw palmetto.

Love bombs, love potions, love is in the air… ah yes, Valentines Day is not far off!

One of the best things about events like this one, is discovering new things.  This happened when we came across the 8…9…Tempeh booth, formerly Magi Fungi.  This gluten free and soy free tempeh was amazing!  With garbanzo, black bean and quinoa varieties, it was versatile and delicious.  Unfortunately they don’t have retail packaging yet, but they do take direct orders.

           There were so many more good things, including Holy Cow tempeh sandwiches, Cafe Mam coffee, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Premrose Edibles Chocolates – (one of our favorites here at the Kiva), and Grateful Harvest Farms who make my personal favorite, Garlic Kraut.  The cabbage is crunchy, not soggy, and the garlic flavor is robust!  We also spent some time with the ladies of Mountain Rose Herbs and their loose tea leaves.

 Ever wondered what the difference between black tea, green tea, oolong tea, or any of the other varieties is?  It’s about the fermentation!

On our way out to pick up some Take Root Magazines, (winter issue now available at the Kiva), we ran into Molly of Mckenzie Mist Water.  While the water isn’t fermented, it is a necessity, and it’s also the best stuff out there.

 She was excited to tell us about her artesian well that provides so many of us with pure, unadulterated drinking water.

We made our way downstairs to find fermented beverages of the adult variety in abundance.  Ninkasi had brought their record player for the enjoyment of all.  Oakshire was there with four beers on tap and also Hop Valley.  We got a sneak peek at Falling Sky Brewery, opening soon!  We didn’t partake, except with our eyes, since we were working of course.  It was great to see all the craft brewers of our fine city together in one place!

           We came to the end of our fermented field trip, happy to have seen friendly faces and tasted so many vibrant flavors that come from so near us!


Kombucha Update

There has been a noticeable lack of kombucha in the drink coolers at the Kiva for a couple of weeks now.  On June 18th, the Whole Foods chain of grocery stores voluntarily recalled all kombucha products because of concerns that they might have alcohol contents in excess of the .5% allowed by law.  Subsequently, several major distributors and prominent kombucha manufactures such as GT’s Kombucha have stopped selling kombucha while independent testing is performed and brewing practices are refined to better comply with the law.  This issue is not a health risk – while living kombucha cultures may continue to produce alcohol in the bottle after bottling, the alcohol levels do not exceed 1%, meaning you would have to drink 10 to 14 glasses of kombucha to get the alcoholic effect of a single glass of wine!  The issue is one of labeling, as special permits and labels are required to sell and manufacture beverages containing more than .5% alcohol.  There has been no government recall of kombucha and any decisions to stop selling kombucha by distributors and manufacturers have been purely voluntary.

Local kombucha manufacturer Oak Barrel Kombucha is also absent from our shelves at the moment; this is not a direct result of the alcohol issue.  Oak Barrel is taking advantage of a momentary lull in large production orders to install 400 gallons of new oak barrels for fermentation, moving toward a larger batch production that will help make individual batches more consistent.  They are also working with fermentation experts to introduce practices such as oxygenating the batches and using other advanced techniques to suppress the formation of ethanol alcohol in their batches.  If kombucha ends up being more regulated than it currently is, Oak Barrel should be fine as the result of these new improvements!  Jason and Julia at Oak Barrel are convinced that these changes to their production process will not only result in a more consistent kombucha that is always below the legal limit of .5% alcohol, but they will also result in a better product in general.  If all goes well in the installation of the new oak vats and the implementation of these changes, Oak Barrel Kombucha should be back in the Kiva by the week of August 23rd – we can’t wait!

Click here to read a statement from UNFI, one of our distributors, regarding their decision to stop selling GT’s and other kombucha products for the time being.

Click here to read the statement from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regarding alcohol content in kombucha.