What we do
We try and help you eat great tasting food, made from natural ingredients with an emphasis on fermentation and everything that comes with it.
It’s perhaps the quickest, most convenient, not to mention, tastiest way of contributing to your recommended quota of five to ten servings of veg and fruit a day.
Every spoonful (1 heaped table spoon) delivers loads of flavour and contributes to your veg quota for the day.
Here at Bottlebrush Ferments, we’re all about colour. Natural colour that is.
All that’s in our ferments are high quality vegetables, the occasional fruit, herbs, spices and salt.
What are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are gaining in popularity in places like the U.S. and Bottlebrush Ferments founders home country, Australia, but they are by no means new, nor are they a fad.
Let us hit you with a quick bit of History.
Fermented foods have featured in the diets of every traditional society throughout history – Europeans fermented dairy, vegetables, grape leaves and herbs, the Alaskan Inuit fermented the meat from fish and sea mammals, in the Far East pickled vegetables, fermented soy products and things like kimchi were quite common and lastly, African farmers used to make a porridge type dish from soured grains.
But the one we’re mostly concerned with is Sauerkraut. A delicious and versatile food that can be used as a condiment and added to things like meats, cheese or salads, or as is the case in our homes, used as a staple to help contribute to our quota of 5 – 10 servings a day of veggies, whilst adding a massive flavour punch.
Most people accredit the Germans with the invention of sauerkraut, but it was in fact Chinese labourers building the great wall of China over 2000 years ago who actually have that honour.
The method used was slightly different as they fermented it in rice wine, but the results were similar.
It is believed to have been brought to Europe 1000 years later by Ghengis Kahn after he plundered China.
The Germans used a different method though and may be responsible for Sauerkraut in the form we know and love it today. They dry cured it by sprinkling sea salt on the shredded cabbage, which draws out the water held within the vegetable to create the brine in which it is then fermented.
These ancient revolutionaries knew not of the vast array of microscopic organisms living within, or of the impact their humble fermented foods had by way of delivering essential nutrients. They simply did it out of necessity, using fermentation as a preservation method, to allow them to survive harsh winters with a steady supply of nourishing food.
They must have however had some idea, even back then, that something was happening. It is said that the sea-faring Dutch and even Captain Cook on his journey to colonise Australia, carried barrels of sauerkraut to feed to their crews in an attempt to ward off scurvy and other illness and disease.
These days the benefits of this amazing selection of foods are well known, but a lot of people still don’t really understand it or worse still, have had a bad experience with some soggy, grey looking vegetables eaten at room temperature out of a jar on a hot dog………….Err! No thanks.
As you can see from our pictures, our ferments are fresh and vibrant and contain no nonsense, just raw veg, and they taste amazing, even if we do say so ourselves.
So, what exactly is fermentation?
As we mentioned earlier, it is a method of preserving foods, in our case vegetables mostly, so that they can be consumed long after they would normally have perished.
Different to beer or wine, which are both fermented using certain yeasts, Lacto-fermentation (the process we use) uses bacteria to do the job, Lactic Acid Bacteria to be exact.
The main strain of these bacteria are the Lactobacillus family and they live in the soil and on the surface of all plants, fruit and vegetables, especially those growing close to the ground. They are also present in the gastrointestinal (GI) tracts, mouths and even on the hands of humans.
Lactobacillus bacteria have the ability to convert the sugars in certain veggies into Lactic acid. In the right environment (anerobic or without oxygen) these bacteria act as a natural preservative that prevents the growth of harmful and dangerous bacteria. They also preserve or in some cases, actually increase the vitamin, mineral and enzyme levels of the food and potentially one of the most beneficial by-products of this process, is the formation of microscopic organisms which when consumed, may populate the gut and start to interact with it and its many functions.
How is it done?
We use the traditional method of Lacto-fermentation, which quite simply is the process of adding a good quality salt to shredded vegetables – cabbage as a foundation and then some other funky bits and pieces for unique individual flavours and health benefits, allowing the veggies to “sweat”, meaning that the salt naturally draws out the water in the cells of the veggies.
We then massage it by hand to release more water, then tightly pack it all into large drums allowing the water to cover the cabbage completely (creating an anaerobic environment) so no harmful bacteria can grow or get into it.
We then simply let time work its magic. Anywhere between 3 and 5 weeks we have found optimal to produce the right taste, texture and balance. All things we consider very carefully when creating our products.
Why is this Important?
“It’s multi faceted. We are helping people reach their daily veggie quota in a quick, convenient and tasty way and we’re helping people to continue to enjoy the foods they love.
For a bit more of a sciencey answer, read on……
Hippocrates stated that “All disease begins in the gut.”
It’s estimated that up to 80% of our immune system is housed there, yet worryingly a large percentage of the population suffers from some kind of digestive issue – gas, indigestion, heartburn/ acid reflux, food sensitivities, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc which if left untreated, could possibly lead to more serious issues. Constantly emerging science suggests that there may be links between compromised gut function and many of our modern day diseases.
It is believed an unbalanced bacterial environment in the gut is the main culprit, with most people suffering from a build up of harmful bacteria. Antibiotics, exposure to chemicals in and on our food and the vast amounts of highly processed, synthetic foods in most people’s diets are all contributing factors.
We love these humble, ancient foods and have given them a modern spin, with different flavours and food combinations.
Go on, give it a try.
But be warned, our ferments are addictive and have been known to make you crave them and generally put a spring in your step.
We hope you enjoy them as much as we do – Ben & Hesh