The Brinery: Lacto-Fermentation keeps veggies raw and vibrant

Borden - David K in front of Brinery sign

When you visit The Brinery, David Klingenberger’s stall at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market or Lunasa, he will talk to you about lacto-fermentation, the process by which his pickles and kimchi are kept. When he offers you a taste of his kimchi, cucumber pickles, or other vegetable pickles you will listen more closely.

Lactobacillus is one of the many symbiotic bacteria living in our guts to aid us with digestion. Lacto-fermentation is the process of actively feeding lactobacillus, and starving less desirable bacteria such as Clostridium Botulinum (which causes botulism), by covering whole or chopped vegetables in a saltwater brine. When kept at a constant cold temperature vegetables will continue to ferment, releasing gases, and remaining safe for consumption.

“What I love about fermented vegetables is that it is the most ancient form of preserving vegetables,” says Klingenberger.

The difference between lacto-fermentation and preserving vegetables in a vinegar brine is that lacto-fermentation keeps the vegetables raw. The Brinery sells vegetables that are still raw. Abundant lactobacillus, fed by the salt, breaks down the carbohydrates in the vegetables - partly pre-digesting the vegetables before they reach your stomach, but nothing is cooked. When one purchases sauerkraut in a container from the shelf the cabbage was preserved raw and then cooked in order to be heat-sealed in the jar. Traditionally, you can bury crock-pots of kimchi or sauerkraut below the frost line in the ground to maintain the cooler temperature; Klingenberger uses refrigeration.

The longer one keeps vegetables that have been preserved using lacto-fermentation the more they are fermented. Klingenberger shares that the flavor “will just get more intense,” and I agree with that. I will also add that when I opened a jar of kimchi after two weeks vegetables rose up to meet me, traditional crock-pots siphon off the gases that glass jars cannot.Borden - Kimchi, eggs, pasta

Klingenberger started working as an organic farmer with Tantre Farm 12 years ago. His ideal, “would be to have all organic local produce in my products, but I can’t do that - so my next step is to Michigan local grown - I am not into buying organic product from California.”

Klingenberger received his license and LLC certification this winter. He has already worked with Chef Brandon Johns of The Grange and Chef Alex Young of the Zingermans Roadhouse. His vision is to be in the refrigeration section of our local stores and many more local restaurants. This summer he is part of Lunasa and the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market to showcase his fermented vegetables.

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