A Cork company that is reviving the ancient tradition of hand-crafted live fermented foods is now supplying retailers across Co Clare.
The Cultured Food Company, based in Skibbereen, West Cork, was founded in 2014 by mother of four, Hayley Milthorpe.
After qualifying as a Nutritional Therapist in 2013, Hayley left college with a passion for using food as a medicine. She wanted to understand how our ancestors stayed healthy generation after generation, free from the diseases of modern man that we are plagued with today.
It was whilst reading about ancient traditional diets that Hayley discovered fermented foods. She began creating many forms of fermented foods such as yoghurt, crème fraiche, kefir, kombucha, sourdough breads, sour pickles and of course sauerkraut and kimchi! Being a stay at home mother she spent many hours in her kitchen and loved to create foods which nourished her growing family to keep them strong and healthy.
In 2014 after realising there was a gap in the market here in Ireland for live fermented foods Hayley decided to launch her own range of raw unpasteurised sauerkrauts. She started selling at the local farmers market in Skibbereen. Due to an increase in demand for the products it wasn’t long before she started supplying shops across Ireland and the UK.
Almost six years later The Cultured Food Company has a range of eight products including a five different flavours of sauerkraut, kimchi, and two beetroot products including a beet kvass, with a team of six staff. They now stock two major supermarket chains in Ireland – Supervalu and Dunnes Stores, and they also stock hundreds of independent health food shops and delicatessens across Ireland and the UK.
So, what exactly are fermented foods? Fermentation is an ancient method of food preservation, it’s how we used to preserve our vegetables through the winter. At The Cultured Food Company they use a specific type of fermentation, a process called lacto-fermentation. Laco-fermentatio is the process where bacteria, yeasts, mold or fungi break down carbs such as sugar and starch, and turns them in to acid, gas or alcohol – depending on what you’re making and what you’re making it with.
Despite it’s name, lacto fermentation is not always associated with milk products. The word “lacto” refers to lactic acid, and the word lacto is used in this context because this type of fermentation was first discovered in milk which contains the sugar lactose. Sourdough bread is another example of a lacto-fermented food, as well as sauerkraut and kimchi.
Fun fact! Did you know that our everyday household condiments like ketchup and mustard were originally fermented foods? Sadly, most producers of the popular condiments turned away from fermenting their goods and instead started added sugar to preserve them.
Start introducing fermented food in to your diet and awaken your taste buds by adding The Cultured Food Company’s sauerkraut’s to your meat, fish or veggie dish. We love it in a toasted cheese sandwich, a chicken salad wrap, as a size with quiche and salad, in a vegan buddah bowl and even just eating it straight from the jar.