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Admittedly I don’t personally know enough about fermentation, especially since I love eating/drinking EVERYTHING sour. And after talking with my friends, I discovered that most of us have lost the food preservation skills of years gone by since modern grocery stores and home freezers have pushed the age-old techniques of canning and fermenting into the realm of the niche foodie. But when it comes to eating yogurt, Kombucha, pickled anything – hand it over! I’m in love with the sour taste that comes along with fermentation so I wanted to know more. When I met Sue and Wendy, I was thrilled to find two Oregon City female entrepreneurs at NW Ferments that are taking the intimidation out of learning about fermentation! In addition to classes and starter kits, these ladies have made it convenient for us to learn about this craft with easier access to supplies.
Let’s get specific: Fermentation is the process of a substance breaking down into a simpler substance. Microorganisms like yeast and bacteria usually play a role in the fermentation process. It creates beer, wine, sour dough bread, tempeh, yogurt, small-batch whiskey etc…so don’t be freaked out! Probably the the biggest mystery is the scoby; pictured in the clear bag above. It’s kind of alien looking. It floats, it’s rubbery, slippery and brown with stringy bits hang from it…but it transforms sugary tea into a fizzy, sour delight. Stop being hesitant and keep reading!
Right here, in Oregon City pungent and tangy flavors are being grown through fermentation. Sue and Wendy, Oregon City entrepreneurs and owners of NW Ferments, are happy to help you learn about, connect with and create your own specialty fermented food & beverages.
Sue and Wendy met through taking the same Food Preservation class at Clackamas County Extension more than ten years ago. They became good friends and began doing production for a fermentation company in 2010. Eventually that company decided to relocate to the East Coast. Sue and Wendy stayed behind to support them from afar. For one whole year they played chicken with themselves while contemplating jumping out on their own. Ultimately, they pushed their disbelief aside, rolled up their sleeves, took some risks, and totally went for it. They knew they wanted to keep their home base here in Oregon City. Finally, in May of 2016, they started NW Ferments whilst simultaneously phasing themselves out of supporting the previous company.
NW Ferments brings starter cultures to the home user allowing you to have better control, better health and a fun experience. Because this isn’t a finished product; it’s starter cultures and supplies, they are in supply type stores like People’s Food Co-op and Portland Homestead in Sellwood. They have expanded their distribution to South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and more. In addition to this expansion, barcodes are coming! They are refining their packaging and have their sites set on bigger chains for broader distribution. Consequently, they are our local little engine that could…go ladies, go!
They have a hefty YouTube channel full of information and humor.
Can we take a class on Fermentation?
YES! They periodically offer classes. If you are interested, sign up for their email newsletter on their beautiful website like I did.
Although it’s great that making your own probiotic-rich foods saves you money, but the most noteworthy benefit is that it helps to populate your gut with healthy flora. It aids in digestion, bolsters your immune system and your metabolism. Furthermore, ingesting fermented foods can help restore the proper bacteria balance in your intestines… hence you will hear it called “gut health.”
Where can we buy their products locally? Oregon City and Milwaukie Farmers Markets for now….look for their tent pictured above! Seems like we will witness their growth first hand so we’ll anticipate more avenues coming our way for buying their kits and supplies.
High five them for: Venturing out on their own. Creating a new business and being an entrepreneur can be SCARY. Despite that, they forged forward. It’s worth raising a celebratory fist in the air on their behalf! They did it from outside their comfort zone. (What have you done lately outside of your comfort zone? Ponder on it. Encourage yourself to follow your dreams like these ladies did.) When starting out, these two women entrepreneurs dedicated the majority of their time to making their business a success. Slowly but surely they have grown and expanded. They are making fermentation less intimidating for beginners, so help me spread the word!
Buy their products and starter kits online where you can also watch videos on their website. Know someone who enjoys cooking and has everything? Their starter kits could be a great gift idea! I typically pay over $3 for one serving of my favorite Kombucha at the store. They tell me that you can make gallons of it for pennies. What?! OK!
Finally, this could be a great date night idea. Sign up for a class as a couple. It seems like learning in a hands-on setting would be a fun, unique way to spend time and it appears the classes are usually around 6:30pm making this a great evening out! I’m guessing it would probably be the most unique date and makes a new skill to enjoy creating together at home.
To quote Sue and Wendy: “with experimentation, the possibilities are endless!” Since I believe in taking a dose of my own medicine, I bought my own starter kit this past Spring to explore my own possibilities. As a result, I have since brewed over five batches and am in love with my ginger + lemon and cayenne recipe. I developed and tweaked it with each new batch. Thank you for inspiring me, ladies!
What I love most of all: the fact that I can buy a starter kit and literally have all the tools I need to start right away. Buy a kit, hit the grocery store and BAM…you are ready to go!
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