I met Kirstin Nordstrand last year at an event in Cornwall and instantly fell in love with her amazing products which include several flavours of kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi. I could consume buckets of the stuff. Probably do in fact!! When I finally opened my shop I just knew that I had to offer our customers the opportunity to get her amazing Phoebe's Ferments products locally.
We now proudly sell Phoebe's Ferments Sauerkraut, Kimchi and Kombucha!! AND she will be back at our First Every Vegan Cheese Fondue Party on Oct. 29th with samples and sauerkraut for everyone!!
In fact, I recently started using her fresh Phoebe's Ferments kraut in my Fauxmage Bleu! I love that I know exactly where it comes from and how much love goes into making it!
I recently invited Kirstin to help us with our most recent recipe video, and as expected she came up with something super delicious and still simple to prepare. These are the most important criteria to me when deciding what to cook.
You can find her recipe for Open Faced Tempeh Reuben Sandwich here.
I'm always curious about how small businesses get started and how people develop a passion so great for something that they are willing to dedicate themselves to sharing it with others. So I sat down with Kirstin and asked her a few questions. You can read her responses below.
She was even generous enough to share her top 5 fermenting tips and a simple recipe for fermented veggies to get you started with your own fermenting!!
My interview with Kirstin...
Q. How did you get started with fermentation?
A. I was not raised fermenting, although I do remember my mother once making a batch of kraut in the kitchen of our house in Burnaby, B.C., probably because she read it was good for you somewhere ….and she was right! It was a smelly experiment to my young nose and her friends would come over and peer into the crock with mild trepidation. I personally learned about it though, when I went back to school to become a holistic Nutritionist. Probiotics always seemed to be what the root of a lot of our teachings was. It was always an integral part of helping people to change their health for the better no matter what their condition was. So not being a person who personally likes taking pills even the natural healthy ones, and preferred the whole food source of nutritional health. I started looking into other sources and discovered the wonderful world of lacto-fermentation.
Q. As a nutritionist, what do you feel are the benefits of adding fermented foods to your diet?
A. The benefits are immense and I have my customers constantly coming up to me and telling me how much it has helped them and they cannot believe the changes it has made. Our health …all of our health originates in our guts. Depression, auto immune, arthritis, basic immune function, obesity all come from the bacteria living in our bodies. They are our co-host and the protectors of our health but with a diet full of sugar and processed foods the bad guys can get out of control and can lead to our health degrading and ultimate development of disease. Since we are constantly inundated with toxins in our environment, pesticides, chemicals we put on our bodies in the form of deodorants and shampoos, antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and lots of other things that kill the good bacteria, we need to be replenishing it on a regular basis, as in daily!
Q. What have you personally noticed since you started eating more fermented foods?
A. My digestion has improved radically and I have an insane immune system (in a good way). I also heal very quickly, oh and I don’t get bit by mosquitoes anymore!! I had suffered with Candida issues for probably decades…not in as much as yeast infections, although I did get them when I was younger. There are a lot of other symptoms that you can experience with this condition. Rashes, brain fog, exhaustion, UTI, hormone imbalances, bloating and digestive issues, joint pain, allergies, PMS and the list goes on! This has radically changed for me. What amazes me most about our bodies is they have no agenda other than for us to function at the best health possible! It is amazing no matter how badly we have abused them, knowingly or not. Once we make positive health changes we will see immediate results!! There is usually an initial healing crisis when your body is detoxing and you feel terrible from the toxins being released and removed from your body but this usually passes quickly, within a few days. I have found that your body knows what’s good for you and once you stop long enough to listen, it will tell you. Once you clean up your diet enough your body and organs are not just treading water to try and survive. The reactions will be much clearer as to what you are allergic to or is not good for you, and you will find it easier to make healthy choices by how you feel when you eat something.
Q. How did Phoebe's Ferments get started, and what are your plans for the future?
A. After I was done school I was trying to figure out where my newly acquired knowledge would take me. What direction would be most effective to get knowledge about holistic health into people hands and minds. Living in a country that has free health insurance has led many people to feel they should not pay for health care, so getting clients to commit financially to holistic nutritional counselling can be tricky. When I sat back and thought about it, I realized if I could get this product into someone’s hands, a product that had changed my health so radically, and have a few minutes of their time. I could casually give them information that could change their health, and it works!! People are generally so fed up and frustrated with the health care system and the bandaide approach to caring for disease or health issues by taking a pill which in itself causes more health issues. People are starting to wake up and realize that they are responsible for their health and not the doctors.
As far as where will my business go? I am currently at a few farmers markets which gives me the opportunity to talk to the client while they are purchasing my product which I do enjoy. I am also in a few stores and I am hoping that my product will spread around the Ottawa valley area, one small health food store at a time. We are currently in the process of recruiting more stores and I am hoping that will be successful.
Q. For those of us trying our hand at fermenting at home, what specific tips can you give us?
A. Don’t be afraid!!! It is an ancient process which has been used for centuries! It is a very basic process and it is a safe one when you follow these very simple rules:
#1 Hygiene!!! Make sure everything especially your hands are clean, but not antibacterial, those types of soaps and products can leave a residue that can inhibit proper bacterial growth and fermentation. They are also bad for you and your microbiome…so just don’t use that crap!
#2 Get a good recipe (See below!). Sandor Katz has some good books out there
#3 Ratios: you usually want a 2-3% salt ratio to whatever it is you are fermenting.
#4 Keep it below the brine and all will be fine. This is a saying among fermenters, and it is very true. Vegetable fermentation is anaerobic and needs to be oxygen free or mold and other nasty things will grow on your vegetables. Use common sense if it doesn’t smell, look or taste good it probably isn’t.
#5 Acidity is the protective factor so you can test your ferments with a ph strip from the drug store you want it to be below 4.
Here is a recipe for Fermented Veggies and it is probably the easiest place to start for a new fermenter! Good luck!!
1 Head cauliflower
5 or more cloves of garlic
2 pounds of carrots
2 tbsp dried oregano or whatever spice you like, cumin seeds are also nice.
1 gallon of brine( ½ c unrefined sea salt dissolved in 1 gallon of filtered/chlorinated water)
Cut veggies into 1-2 inch pieces or whatever you like not too big though. Put them into a large gallon jar or crock. Pour brine over top and make sure all veggies are submerged. You can place cabbage leaves over top to help secure them and then cover with a plate. Cover with a lid that allows for some c02 to escape but seals out bugs and too much oxygen. If you cannot see through the container, to see if veggies are submerged lift lid every day or two and poke stray veggies back down in brine. Remove them if they look off color or have developed any mold. Let sit in a corner of your counter or in a cupboard that has fairly even temperature(not near stove) for a week and then try tasting one and see if you like it or if it needs to sit longer. Enjoy!!
A bit more info on Kirstin.....
Kirstin was trying to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up and decided to follow her passion of health and food! She studied holistic nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition where she learned about holistic health. While studying there she discovered probiotics and just how crucial they are for our health. Looking for a whole food approach to dealing with her own health issues she learned about fermented foods and how rich they are in naturally occurring probiotics. Once she graduated as a R.H.N., Kirstin decided to use her knowledge to educate people through food. By getting some probiotic rich foods into their hands, hopefully educate and help them make healthy choices. This was the birth of Phoebes Ferments a fermented food company, which is currently operated out of Kemptville, ON.
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