Well, we recently celebrated our one year anniversary with The Cottage Kitchen and wanted to share an update with our friends and customers. This has truly been an astounding year of surprises, challenges, delights and some disappointment.
When my wife Wendy first launched the concept of The Cottage Kitchen with raw, organic wild fermented vegetables I thought it might be something people would like, but never did I imagine that it would turn into a small batch business with the potential to become a viable opportunity to provide for our family.
During one of our weekly cabbage chopping fests my wife threw out the idea of "what if we could put our kids through college on cabbage?" which we've since adopted as our philosophy and mission statement. So, in an effort to expand upon this concept we recently began talking with local specialty retailers like Echo Hill, Dundor & Heister, Oley Valley Organics and Naked & Proud about carrying our products. Suffice to say, they overwhelming accepted our offer and are now just a few of the nearly 10 locations our products are being sold at within the greater Philadelphia area. Our next focus is on penetrating the Center City Philadelphia market during the first quarter of 2017.
It seems that Kimchi began the Korean kick of ferments here on the East Coast so much so that a Korean documentary crew who researched Kimchi came across an article featuring The Cottage Kitchen from the Reading Eagle and are now in talks with us about featuring our small business and penetration of the market place with our Kimchi. We give great credit to the popularity of Kimchi and all the chefs for bringing such attention upon our small batch business.
Now, after researching a new product that we affectionately refer to as the "Mexican Kimchi" we are offering Curtido, which is a Salvadorian Sauerkraut that is widely used in Central America on pupusas. Its rich, lively taste of fresh organic jalapenos, organic onions, organic cabbage and Mexican oregano make it easy to see why its become so popular with our customers for use on breakfast burritos, eggs, sausage, green salads, hamburgers and a sundry of other uses.
Curtido is fast becoming our #1 seller as it appeals to the consumer who likes a spicy cabbage ferment, but prefers the tang of jalapeno to that of red pepper flake.
It would be remiss of me not to mention some of the pitfalls of our first year of our growth as this small batch fermentation business can be a tricky thing. Lacto-fermentation (same process used in small winery and brew pubs) can be a fickle undertaking as one must learn the nuances of different ferments and when to bottle or jar them. For example, sauerkraut is a ferment that smells horribly bad after two weeks (most people opt to throw it away it smells so bad), yet at six weeks it has fermented into a beautiful tasting cabbage with nutrient dense probiotics and ample amounts of Vitamin C.
As we began our Kvass production we knew very little about the making of juices from ferments, so there was definitely a learning curve. Our first batch of 60 gallons had the wrong solution concentration of 2% vis-a-vis the proper 4% and it ended up spoiling 75 pounds of organic red beets. What happens when there is not enough celtic sea salt is the beets are literally water logged and become soggy. Not a good recipe for a zesty Kvass and smells horrible. So, we had some headaches with that first batch.
Now, we have learned our lesson and can confidently say we are close to perfecting the kind of Kvass we dreamed of producing from the get-go. This is no pell-mell operation, it is a science that must be learned through trial and error with hopefully more success than error. If you are thinking of fermenting kvass at home just remember to watch your ratios of salt to water carefully as this solution can be the kiss of death or the Kind Kvass!