Updated: May 21, 2020
You might see this described as natural, wild or spontaneous fermentation. When you see it on our labels this guarantees you that we’ve added nothing else to it other than fruit, veg, spices etc for flavour and salt. Leaving nature to do its thang.
Put simply natural fermentation is the breakdown of sugars in foods by the microbes that naturally occur on these foods.
The equation for making Crafty Pickle ferments is…
Raw ingredients (thinly sliced) + salt + flavoury fun things
happy lactic acid bacteria + organic acid + gases + delicious fermented goodies
Foods have been naturally fermented for centuries to create new exciting things (like kimchi!), make certain ingredients edible (think olives or grains into bread), as a form of preservation and... to make booze! There are some estimates that put the number of worldwide ferments in the thousands. Every culture uses natural fermentation with just about anything you can imagine. Some of the weirder ones we’ve come across are pineapple skins (to make tepache, a Mexican drink), shark (Kæstur hákarl in Icelandic) and Kanga Pirau, affectionately known as rotten corn in New Zealand.
The first time I tried a raw, naturally fermented food the new and unexpected flavours blew me away. But, it was also the science involved, scope for culinary creativity and simplicity of the preparation that won me over and sowed that cabbage-shaped seed in my mind.
What isn't natural fermentation?
Why do we use natural fermentation?
Watching a jar of shredded cabbage and salt come alive with bubbles and escaping jets of gases, knowing that you have harnessed Mother Nature to make it happen is quite incredible. And the result is a wild product that is quite literally alive, and has the most astounding, invigorating flavours.
We don’t use pre-cultures (which would be a whole lot easier to deal with, trust me) because we love the adventure that naturally fermenting produce takes us on. Pre-cultures have their place, don’t get us wrong – without them we wouldn’t get many of the beers, cheeses and more that we get today! – but they don’t suit the Crafty Pickle way. We’re far too crafty for that.
If you’d like to join the club of spontaneous fermenters keep your peepers peeled for our recipe updates where we will be sharing our not-so well kept secrets with the World!