Fermentation is an ancient method of preserving fresh vegetables and other foods for later use. It is accomplished due to lactic acid-producing bacteria, which lower the pH of these foods.
Chris Chmiel, co-owner of Integration Acres Ltd., applied for an NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher grant and learned that fermentation could be profitable and add value to his vegetable production. While the idea of fermenting vegetables started because one of his employees had an interest, Chmiel now sells several fermented products, including kimchi, sauerkraut, and sour pickles.
Chmiel experimented with various crops, techniques, recipes, and marketing strategies to find the most profitable fermented products for further development. Throughout this process he worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Division to ensure that his fermenting practices were safe, and with consumers to ensure that the products would be satisfying and marketable. Chmiel made adjustments to his process and kept meticulous notes, which he has shared at various workshops.
Workshops were held in conjunction with Community Food Initiatives and at two Ohio Pawpaw Festivals. These workshops reached more than 85 people, and offered information on the basics of fermentation, taste testing, and a question and answer session.
View Chris's presentation on this project, from the 2014 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit www.youtube.com/NCRSAREvideo for this and other videos.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant: