Superabundant dispatch: Oregon’s funky fermentation revolution

Editor’s word: OPB’s video sequence “Superabundant” explores the tales behind the meals of the Pacific Northwest. Now we’re taking the identical guiding ideas to a brand new platform: Electronic mail. We’ve introduced on meals author Heather Arndt Anderson, a Portland-based culinary historian and botanist, to focus on totally different facets of the area’s meals ecosystem each week. This week she examines the methods wherein Oregon has develop into an epicenter for the fermentation revolution.

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As soon as the harvest season winds down, it’s time for our tiniest helpers to get to work turning fruit into booze and vinegar, soybeans into miso and tempeh, cabbage into kraut and kimchi, and milk into yogurt and crème fraîche. So lots of our meals depend on fermentation — the method of utilizing microbes to rework what we eat. What was America’s first commercially produced kombucha? Learn on to seek out out!

Small bites: America places land administration again into Native palms, the chilly way forward for Portland’s most well-known ice cream, and a brand new means of paying respect to pei-pei

Freshly picked morsels from the Pacific Northwest meals universe:

Umatilla Tribes’ Nationwide Parks Service director is taking a Native method to his new gig.

B. “Toastie” Oaster lately reported for Excessive Nation Information that Chuck Sams, a Cayuse and Walla Walla man enrolled within the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, plans to take a distinct method to his new job as director of the Nationwide Parks Service, to which he was appointed final yr. It is going to be a decidedly Native one, with revolutionary plans to contain Tribes in land stewardship. Indigenous Oregonians have been making actual headway in turning into guardians of Oregon waters over current years, and now they’re main the best way on a nationwide scale as properly.

Salt & Straw would possibly up and go away.

Followers of blue cheese ice cream, time to worry: Salt & Straw CEO and co-founder Kim Malek has had sufficient. Citing ongoing crime and different public security issues round their Southeast Portland headquarters (together with each an RV hearth and an worker being held up at gunpoint whereas attempting to enter the constructing — each up to now few weeks), Malek has made her plea to Metropolis Officers to wash up the streets or she’ll haven’t any selection however to search for a brand new dwelling for the enterprise.

Eventually: deaf, queer, and Latinx-owned Pah!

In late September, Portland obtained its first spot the place American Signal Language (ASL) is actually on the menu. As OPB’s Crystal Ligori studies, new Southeast Portland pub grub spot Pah! (ASL slang for “lastly” or “success”) gives not solely an area the place the Deaf neighborhood can really feel proper at dwelling, however shares Deaf tradition with the listening to as properly. Prospects who don’t know ASL converse their order into an iPad speech-to-text translator, however the menu objects are all named after Deaf slang so even the listening to can decide up somewhat lingo when ordering their Kissfist (cheeseburger).

Watercolor painting of various pickled cabbages on fancy modern plates.

Picture generated by Steady Diffusion AI utilizing immediate: “kimchi, pickled radish, water coloration, surrealist, movie grain, good composition, by Mary Vaux Walcott”

MacGregor Campbell / OPB

Meals preservation for a brand new technology

It’s late fall. The harvest is within the rearview, and with the colder temperatures and shorter days, life’s vibrations decelerate to a decrease frequency. To the untrained eye, the impatient eye, it would seem to be not loads is happening, however should you sit nonetheless lengthy sufficient, you would possibly discover issues quietly effervescent under the floor. Even when life seems to have utterly stilled, microbes are going in regards to the regular enterprise of altering the world round them.

People have lengthy employed microbes to perform duties that our palms and instruments can’t; particularly, for altering the properties of our meals. Culturing dairy like yogurt and cheese is a year-round affair, however most fermentation strategies historically served the aim of preserving meals by means of the lean instances of winter. Fermentation not solely extends the shelf lifetime of meals, however it improves the flavour and dietary worth as properly.

It would seem to be fermentation is all of a sudden having fun with a second in Oregon — we’ve obtained Fermenter, two fermentation festivals (the Portland one continues to be on hiatus however Ashland’s Brine, Brew, and Barrel is slated to return in January 2023) and just about each Purchase Nothing group within the state is crammed with of us attempting to dump extra sourdough mom and kefir grains. Even when DIY ferments aren’t your cup of kombucha, Oregonians can select regionally made Jorinji Miso, Wanpaku Natto, Choi’s Kimchi and Oregon Brineworks pickles and kraut. However our knack for funky ferments is something however a flash within the pan.

A decade in the past, “we are able to pickle that” turned a Portlandia trope, however preserving meals is nothing new. In 1995, Portland center faculty science instructor Robert Deering based Oocha Brew — the nation’s first commercially produced kombucha. It was rose-flavored and delightfully effervescent, however it was troublesome to halt the fermentation and preserve it nonalcoholic, plus nobody had actually heard of kombucha. The funky fungal swill hadn’t been seen a lot outdoors hippie households and was type of a tough promote to most people. The product was pulled from markets simply three years later, however ultimately folks caught on, utilized symbiotic tradition of micro organism and yeast (scoby for brief) to tea, and now there are not less than a dozen Oregon manufacturers to select from.

However let’s return even additional. Ten millennia in the past, our area’s first inhabitants preserved meals very like people did everywhere in the world’s northern climes: roots and berries have been dried and tightly packed into baskets, fish have been smoked and hung like tinsel from longhouse rafters, and an attention-grabbing delicacy was saved long-term in grass-lined pits within the floor. Chinook olives, as they got here to be referred to as by white folks, have been acorns pickled in human urine. On the finish of the four- or five-month curing course of, the acorns have been black and tender, the bitter tannins mellowed. Like every other pickle recipe, every household’s batch had its personal distinctive terroir and piquancy. Whereas it would sound alarming to our trendy sensibilities, it’s value noting that urine has an extended historical past as a meals preservative; it’s historically used to prolong the shelf lifetime of Kenyan bitter milk by inhibiting the micro organism that trigger spoilage, and ammonia is FDA accepted for the emulsified poultry — aka “pink slime” — used within the rooster nuggets. One other alkaline substance, sodium hydroxide (lye) is used to each debitter black olives as they treatment and to get that golden-brown shine on pretzels.

By the point pioneers started to reach within the 1840s, many introduced their instruments and strategies of preservation with them. There have been salt barrels and glazed clay crocks stuffed lovingly with pickles and fruit preserves, stored in darkish, cool cellars and holes within the floor. When Portland was starting its transformation from a muddy buying and selling outpost to a vacation spot for settlers and their households within the 1850s, a number of potters arrange store within the space, together with Chevalier Richardson, who made stoneware jam jars and butter churns in Damascus till the spring of 1854, when his neighbors started to note his demeanor altering from one in all joviality to a descent into violence. He raved that his consuming water and creek have been being poisoned, and was ultimately arrested in Hillsboro for threatening his neighbor and killing the person’s steer. After a number of months within the clink he was deemed “legally insane” — the unlucky results of years spent working with one’s hand drenched in lead glazes. After he was launched he wandered off the map, by no means to be heard from once more.

Diagram of various colored dots representing microbes.

Picture generated by Steady Diffusion AI utilizing immediate: “lactobacillus, microscope slide, watercolor, scientific, good composition, diagram”

MacGregor Campbell / OPB

In distinction to preservation utilizing bases like ammonia or lye, lactic acid fermentation, or lacto-fermentation, is an energetic course of that depends on Lactobacillus plantarum — the pleasant micro organism that reside within the caves the place cheeses are aged, the onggi the place kimchi is ripened and even on human pores and skin. (When you don’t imagine us, take a deep whiff of a stomach button someday and word the uncanny fragrant resemblance to a high-quality Roquefort.) Lactobacillus survive in brine as much as a sure salinity (round 8% being the higher restrict), consuming carbohydrates like glucose, sucrose and lactose and producing lactate as a waste product. Lactate turns to lactic acid in options like pickle brine or the pure juices in greens, which reduces the pH of the meals and inhibits the expansion of virulent microbes like Salmonella enterica and Clostridium botulinum (the bacterium that causes botulism). Oh, and it makes meals style actually good.

If you wish to get began preserving meals however don’t know the place to start, winter is the proper time. Fermentation occurs rather more slowly at cool temperatures, for one factor, however should you aren’t fairly prepared for pickling your personal sizzling sauce you possibly can at all times begin by dehydrating fruit in a single day in a low oven earlier than shifting on to cheffy hoshigaki tasks. It’ll heat up the home and make it odor fantastic.

When you’re able to take the subsequent step, we suggest testing books by Southern Oregon’s personal Kirsten and Christopher Shockey, who provide on-line courses and books on fermenting pickles and sizzling sauce; soy meals like miso, natto and tempeh; fruit scrap vinegars and cider. Cheese and cultured dairy lovers can take a look at City Cheesecraft dwelling cheesemaking kits, on-line courses and books by founder Claudia Lucero. (Observe: Lucero’s newest ebook, “Cooking with Whey,” features a recipe for whey flatbread by Superabundant publication author Heather Arndt Anderson.)

Photo of kimchi jigae stew.

Do not let that outdated kimchi go to waste.

MacGregor Campbell / OPB

Recipe: Kimchi jigae (kimchi stew)

One of the best factor about fermented meals is that they proceed to get extra bitter and funky as they age. Nevertheless, this may generally influence the feel of stuff like pickles and kimchi. You may at all times puree a really bitter pickle and dehydrate the slurry to make pickle salt, however when your kimchi turns into too ripe, make jigae! Makes 4 servings


Anchovy Inventory:

  • 6 cups water
  • 15 grams (about 1/2 cup) dried anchovies
  • 1 piece of kombu seaweed (kelp), about 3 cm by 5 cm
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms


  • 6 cups kimchi (older/riper kimchi is extra conventional)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ¼ cup of mirin (candy rice wine)
  • 1 tbsp doenjang1 tbsp gochujang
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • Add-ons: 1 carton agency tofu, sliced; cooked beef or pork, sliced thinly; prawns, scallops, or canned tuna; 4 eggs


  1. Make the anchovy inventory by bringing the water to the boil, including the anchovies, kombu, and shiitake, after which simmering on medium warmth for ten minutes. Pressure and return to the pot to simmer over medium-high warmth (and/or warmth the meat broth, if utilizing).
  2. Pressure the kimchi juice into the inventory, slice the kimchi into shreds, then add it to the inventory together with the sesame oil, mirin, doenjang and gochujang. Simmer for 5 minutes. After the stew has simmered for 5 minutes, style, regulate salt as essential and add your add-ons (besides the egg). Simmer for one more 5 minutes, or till every part is warmed by means of. When every part is bubbly, fastidiously crack within the eggs and gently poach them for one minute.
  3. Divide the stew into 4 servings (taking care to not break the yolks), after which high every bowl with a beneficiant pinch of scallions. Serve with bowls of steamed rice, and move round sesame oil, doenjang, and/or gochujang for further umami and taste.


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