We love small-batch brands like Farmhouse Culture’s krauts and kimchi. Redefining the food our grandmothers made in newly-imagined and foodie-friendly ways, these small, farm-fresh brands give us a rush when we see them in grocery aisles and bring them into our own kitchens. Kathryn Lukas has built the Farmhouse Culture culture by sticking to the local farms and organic produce that surround them in Northern California. Once the owner of a neighborhood restaurant in Stuttgart, Germany, Kathryn found herself longing for the sauerkraut of that region and, after an inspiring exploration of fermenting traditions from around the world, she began to put California’s best produce to use in Farmhouse Culture! We asked Kathryn to tell us more about the importance of fermented foods and a few of her inside tips!

The Chalkboard Mag: Traditional fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are so beneficial for our health. How did our culture ever veer away from these veggie staples?

Kathryn Lukas: A whopping 70% of Americans still eat sauerkraut according to Linda Ziedrich (The Joy of Pickling) – they just eat a lot less of it. And most of what they eat is a mere shadow of the traditional version. Pastuerized, nitrated and otherwise preserved, canned krauts were ripe for revival. When people discover that kraut can be crunchy, effervescent and pleasingly tangy, they start using it as an everyday condiment. I predict this trend will grow exponentially over the next few years.

TCM: Biggest misconception about fermented foods or sauerkraut:

KL: Many people think sauerkraut gets its tang from adding vinegar to cabbage – and they’re close. Vinegar is acetic acid. The “sauer” in kraut comes from lactic acid formed during fermentation. Lactic acid bacteria are very probiotic and require time and care to form.

TCM: Sauerkraut is so often linked with a whole lot of meat! What is the best way for vegetarians to enjoy kraut?

KL: Sauerkraut is an important food for vegetarians and vegans because it’s a great source of vitamin B12. Who knew? It’s formed during the fermentation process (there is no vitamin B12 in cabbage). How cool is that?

Our Smoked Jalapeno Kraut is great in a quesadilla topped with guacamole or simply with black beans and rice. This month we’re playing with our Ginger Beet kraut and discovering that it’s extremely tasty wrapped up in a sushi roll with avocado and carrot sticks. And it’s also great just tossed into salads. My favorite, Horseradish Leek kraut, is so tasty finely chopped and used as a topping over grilled asparagus or roasted beets. And our very popular Garlic Dill Pickle kraut (also chopped) makes the best potato or egg salad you’ve ever tasted!

TCM: Does including kraut in meals throughout the week actually improve digestion?

KL: That’s what the experts say. It definitely improved mine, and many of our customers swear that it’s changed their lives.

TCM: Tell us what it means to you to source from just a few local farms:

KL: We know where every head of cabbage comes from! We also know that the utmost care was taken in growing it. Knowing that our company contributes to the economic well-being our farmers is truly satisfying.

TCM: Favorite other small batch natural brand from your area:

KL: We love another kraut brand, Cultured. Alex is a master.

TCM: Tell us some great ways to use your new Ginger Beet Kraut (our whole team is obsessed!):

KL: My favorite recipe using our new Ginger Beer Kraut is Ginger Beet Sushi – really tasty and refreshing!

To make the sushi, simply roll our tangy Ginger Beet kraut up in a nori sheet, add creamy avocado and crispy carrots and, if you want to get really adventurous, try adding a little goat cheese, a few sunflower sprouts or green onions! Chef’s note: Drain kraut first so it won’t bleed into the rice. Enjoy!

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