Increasing interest in a centuries-old form of food processing is proving a boon for a farming couple determined to value-add to the vegetables they grow.
Fermented produce, or ‘good gut food’ — with adherents espousing the numerous health benefits — has seen a jump in popularity.
Zoe Lang tends the cabbage, chilli, eggplant and garlic on her New South Wales mid-north coast property, just some of the vegetables she and partner Shmu Karni are growing on land owned by her parents.
For Mr Karni, having grown up on a beef property in the state’s north, a Middle Eastern heritage it is probably not surprising fermentation has attracted him.
“I grew up with a lot of fermented foods. Growing up on a self sustaining property we had to find something to do with that excess produce,” Mr Karni said.
Much of their product which they largely sell at numerous farmers’ markets is based upon cabbage.
The better-known sauerkraut is made with a European variety which is growing under protective mesh to be ready for picking around spring.
With a growing interest in kimchi, however, they are presently harvesting Chinese cabbage.
The traditional Korean dish is regularly listed in the top ten foods for gut health.
The processing is carried out in the kitchen on the farm.
Having registered with the Food Standards Authority, not having to cook — as it is raw — makes it much easier to meet all the guidelines.
As customers becomes more aware of fermented foods they have changed how they do things.
“Initially it was ‘okay, we have this vegetable. What can we make with it as it is different to what else is out there in the market?'” he said.
“We didn’t want to do normal jams and pickles,” Ms Lang noted.
“We still have to do some educating. We get ‘oh kimchi, what is that’, but with well-known chefs pushing it people have become more aware of it.”
There are times, however, when Mr Karni is hit by nerves.
“I am always a little worried when I have a Korean customer but its been all good positive feedback so far!”