Learning the lost art of fermentation at The Brinery.
Finding The Brinery
Chuck stood in the doorway of my dressing room and said, “WE ARE LATE!” for our Fermentation 101 Class at the Brinery! We need to leave now. A quick glance at my watch confirmed it, so I ripped the curlers from my hair and grabbed my coat and coffee. Curling my hair for a fermentation class was probably overkill anyway. We sped down Whitmore Lake Road to the Washtenaw County Food Hub and arrived only 5 minutes late for our fermentation class.
We were so anxious about being late and so relieved to see a group of people sitting in the Food Hub’s main room we didn’t question if it was the correct location. Chuck and I quickly took our seats. <Insert laughter track here.> You are correct, we were in the wrong place. The situation turned into a comedy show/scavenger hunt and in their defense, the Brinery had signs directing us to the back of the building and there were directions on their website. It was a good ice breaker and we quickly got to know our classmates.
The Brinery offers their Fermentation 101 class on the last Saturday of the month. It is fun and you’ll learn something useful, especially if we ever have a zombie apocalypse. You’ll be the person who actually knows how to preserve food. If you are already well versed in the ancient art of fermentation, they have advanced fermentation classes. Dates and times vary so check their website.
We were already pretty well acquainted with our classmates by the time we took our seats. For those who missed the impromptu ice breaker exercise in the Food Hub, introductions were made and we learned a bit about David Klingenberger, The Brinery Owner. Yes, this man has found himself in a fine pickle. David founded The Brinery in 2010 and since then has been providing us with award wining sauerkraut and kimchi and “stimulating peoples’ inner economies with living, raw and unpasteurized, fermented foods as well as the local economy by working with local family farms.”
Our instructor and tour guide for the day was Erin Burke. She is the Brinery’s Production Manager when she isn’t teaching Fermentation 101.
The Brinery Tour
The Brinery is the The Washtenaw Food Hub‘s anchor tenant. The hub provides local businesses a source for local produce and access to a shared kitchen. The Brincery’s production space is located within the food hub.
In temperature-controlled yellow room we found fermentation in progress and the nifty “lifter.” I forget how much each tub weighs but it is a lot. Prior to the arrival of this important piece of equipment the Brinery’s staff would roll the tub across the room. The room was full of fermenting kraut. When the kraut is ready, it is transferred to jars and refrigerated to stop the fermentation process.
The next room on the tour was the “Tempeh” room. It looked like a lot of voodoo magic to me. These bundles of tempeh joy were headed to the freezer and to a store near you!
The Washteanw Count Food Hub has two 600 square foot professional commercial kitchens where local businesses process local products to make their product, like Locavorious, Rani’s Yummy, and The Granola Tree. If you are interested in using their commercial kitchen you’ll need to complete their pre-application intake form. The link is on their website.
Hands on Kraut Making
Before Erin handed each of us a knife, she described the lactic acid fermentation process and provided a demonstration to make kraut.
We’ve tasted most of their products so we were like whatever, but wait a minute! The green tomatoes pickles were to die for! We bought two jars. I’m not a fan of the Kvass but you can’t love all their products. Chuck loves the Kvass. This part of the class is not to be missed.
Ferment without fear!
Fred Briedt, a microbiologist for the US Department of Agriculture has been quoted saying that to his knowledge there has never been a case of foodborne illness from properly fermented vegetables. So go forth and ferment without fear!
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