So this is a post with a bit of a difference. This is because 2019 is going to be a year of new ventures, specifically as my (Madi’s) side project Crafty Pickle Co. is launching, founded with my partner in crime Arthur Serini.
So what the fuck is Crafty Pickle Co. I hear you ask..? Another soulless company jumping on the hipster bandwagon to suck pennies out of millennials’ pockets? Don’t think so. We aim to be a food business with a difference and with a heart. We are well aware of the huge food waste problems we have in this country and want to be a part of the solution. In Scotland alone, an estimated 1.3 million tonnes of food and beverages go to waste each year and despite its efficiency, the food industry OVERPRODUCES 270,000 tonnes (surprisingly shitty right?!). The Crafty Pickle Co. aims to take as much of this surplus food as we can and transform it into delicious, nutritious fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and piccalilli.
We also aim to be a bit different from current producers of fermented foods on the market. It seems EVERYONE in this industry is suddenly a scientist and expert in these foods claiming that fermented foods are powerful ‘probiotics’ that will clear up your chronic diarrhoea and cure your cancer (this might be a bit of an exaggeration but you catch my drift). We wish to debunk some of the nonsense surrounding these foods and give our followers the cold, hard scientific facts using our specialist knowledge as trained nutritionists.
Why we love fermented foods
We’re fermentation enthusiasts for a host of reasons, not least because we really get off on the smell of fermenting cabbage (well, not really but you should try it it’s quite something). Fermentation is an ancient method of food preservation that helps to extend the life of perishable foods like milk, fruit, vegetables, meat and also make certain foods edible and delicious, think olives, grains into bread and milk into cheese.
Put simply fermentation is the action of microbes (bacteria, yeasts, fungi etc) breaking down sugars in food, creating by-products like acids, alcohol and some vitamins.
Lots of foods are made using fermentation (e.g. beer, bread and wine) but because of other parts of their processing they don’t contain any live microbes in them when we eat them. This is where our fermented foods differ. We utilise microorganisms that are already present on the produce to craft our products. These little buggers live on much of the foods we eat daily, like fruit and veg. We just offer them a little nudge to grow!
What’s so special about the microbes in fermented foods is that they transform, often beyond recognition, the raw ingredients into something that will punch you in the face. Lactic acid bacteria in our veggie ferments produce lactic acid that gives unique sour notes. As well as this there’s research to suggest that our gut microbiomes (the collection of bacteria, viruses, yeasts and more that live in our gut) can benefit from additional microbes consumed in our food. As a result of the war on germs we’ve had in the previous century our diets have become more sterile and less diverse, which might have impacts on our long-term health.
To put the cherry on top of the proverbial cake the opportunity to promote veggies in a new, exciting way that is SO versatile (Kimchi cake IS a thing I swear) would excite any nutritionist, trust us.
For more on why fermenting at home is the BEST hobby check our our previous post.
Think it’s easy to set up a food business…? Think again
As with many fledgling businesses we might have been a tad naïve as to how easy it would be to set up and get going with this idea. Plans of hitting up farmer’s markets in a month’s time were soon dashed as we got bitch slapped in the face with regulations and logistics. Anyone involved in the production, supply or serving of food will tell you what a minefield food hygiene and safety can be and although it’s absolutely essential to get this right it’s a damn headache!
Another hurdle we hadn’t fully anticipated was shelf-life testing of our products. This is microbial testing done by a lab that shows how long the food will be safe to eat once it’s on the shelf. This type of testing can be massively expensive and take a big chunk of time to get done. For a tiny start-up like ours this is a mountain that we’re having to climb and is the main reason we can’t get selling just yet. We are in the process though so once we’ve got our shelf-life date we can get our delicious ferments on the shelf; hopefully by spring/early summer.
Keep your eyes peeled on our social media accounts below for the launch of our Crafty Pickle Co. official website!!