I managed to shoot a few photos at the Fun with Fermentation festival, held today at the W.O.W. Hall. While folks did demos on fermentation techniques on the stage, a couple dozen vendors of fermented kraut, pickles, kimchi, bread, kombucha, beer, cider, and tea sampled their goodies as part of a fundraiser for the Willamette Valley Sustainable Foods Alliance. I was enamored of these dee-lux kraut pounders, on sale for a pretty reasonable $25, since it’s hard to find anything else to do the job.
And check out these little cubes of pillowy quinoa tempeh. Someone (edited to add: 8…9…Tempeh? See comments) has been experimenting with different grains, fermenting what is usually only soybeans into tempeh. The crumbs in the middle of the photo are the remains of a pinto bean tempeh. The quinoa tempeh cubes were also served deep-fried in coconut oil (far right). I was pretty impressed by the texture and flavor.
Of the fermented products on display, the most common were kombucha and sauerkraut. I’ve never really understood the kombucha craze, since it seems very expensive in the stores, but I liked the flavor of an elderberry kombucha at one of the booths — it was like a more nuanced, developed shrub (an old-fashioned drink of soda and vinegar).
Several vendors were on hand to show off their sauerkraut. Honestly, I wasn’t super impressed by the canning techniques or flavored kraut. Store-bought hippie-style kraut always seems to be dry and kind of dead or undeveloped tasting to me, and some products on hand were mushy, which usually means the kraut is aged to much or maybe boiled instead of low-temp pasteurized). Aralia Alchemy, a small business that markets their krauts through Pickled Planet (but doesn’t seem to be on their website), offered by far the most unusual offerings. I don’t know how I would eat a jar of Aralia kraut, since I usually cook mine, but if you like eating it raw, it would be a wonderful addition to your repertoire. Jennifer McCoy, a certified herbalist and owner of Aralia Alchemy, told me she wanted to add spring nettles to her cabbage, and the experimentation began. At the festival, she was sampling two kinds of nettle kraut, one with whole small dandelion heads, and another with aralia, a leaf that looks a bit like cooked collards in the kraut, but has an unusual flavor. Jennifer said it was like ginger, but not any ginger I know. Very worth a try, if you should find a way to get it.
Probably the best plain kraut at the festival was Good Food Easy’s kraut (and I enjoyed a delicious sample of radish kimchi, too). And I hope we convinced another popular local vendor to sell their yummy 6-week-aged kraut, which they were sampling alongside their regular stuff (which is only aged a week, and is sweet instead of sour).
Downstairs, the beer was flowing. I had never been to 16 Tons, the new bottle shop at 13th and High, so it was a pleasant surprise to try a few of the European and European-style beers. I particularly liked a dry Belgian raspberry lambic (Oud Beersel Framboise) with a lovely color and true fruit taste, and a Czech-style Pilsner from McMinnville’s Heater Allen. Carlton Cyderworks, another McMinnville outfit, sampled their ciders (above: the gentle Carry Nation, a well integrated blueberry-infused cider, and the English-style — drier and more tannic and almost as good as British cider.)
After all that hard work, I was very happy when I heard my friends had already put in the Devour brats-with-kraut order when I made my tipsy way upstairs. We went outside in the rain, and, as much as we wanted an order of beignets, feasted our eyes instead on the red VW bus and Viva Vegetarian’s cool, forest green ex-postal jeep.