Edible alchemy is how Carly and Dave Dougherty describe their food fermentation. What began as a fascination became their passion in 2012 with the launch of Food & Ferments.
What is food fermentation?
When vegetables like cabbage are left to sit and steep, their sugars are broken down and promote the growth of bacteria. The bacteria converts sugar into lactic acid and that acts as a preservative and the source of that tangy flavor. These lactic acid bacteria are already found in cabbage, which is why you can make sauerkraut out of just cabbage and salt. The most popular fermented vegetable products are sauerkraut with its spicier cousin kimchi. For Carly, growing up on Twin Oaks Dairy farm in Truxton NY, the desire to work in the food industry came naturally. Her husband Dave is a master mixologist of flavors which is a useful skill when it comes to creating unique flavors for fermentation. Carly and Dave originally were fermenting throughout their Philadelphia apartment. It was through Carly’s job as a lunch lady for a private school in Philadelphia that gave them access to an industrial kitchen and it was a trip to California where they learned about fermenting from different fermenters that really changed their dream into a full-time reality. Thus, Food & Ferments was born. Carly always knew that she would come back to Central New York. Shortly after they launched their business, Carly and Dave did just that. They returned to Carly’s family farm and their first kitchen was in the wood working shop of her mom’s farm house. Being near family and access to local fresh ingredients were the two keys reasons for their move. Connecting with local farms like Main Street Farms and Shared Roots helped them with the ingredients to create their unique flavors of sauerkraut, kombucha and their latest award-winning product, Hearts on Fire. Hearts on Fire is a crunchy, chunky style kraut that was the 2018 Good Food Award Winner. It actually came about when Main Street Farms had left over cabbage hearts and an effort to create zero waste that prompted Carly and Dave to create this smoky and savory kraut. Cortland County has a great agricultural tradition. Carly’s own grandfather planted cabbage on his land for decades and for the first time in many years they are planting cabbage again to use in their fermentation. Carly and Dave have found a way to connect with local farmers and use locally sourced ingredients in the creative art of fermentation.