San Diego, California
In an age when we are beginning to truly understand the positive and negative impact food can have on our overall health, many are turning to fermentation. This ancient preservation technique turns out to have tremendous side benefits and in this episode of tasteMAKERS, you are going to meet the team behind Edible Alchemy in San Diego who are crafting from-the-farm ferments using local fruit and veggies.
Edible Alchemy | San Diego, California
San Diego is ripe with farmers’ markets.
Because of the region’s temperate climate and plentiful sunshine, San Diego County is home to about 6,500 farms, a higher concentration of farms in one county than any other in the country. That bounty is available for perusal and purchase at dozens of farmers’ markets that operate across the region throughout the week. The markets offer farmers a chance to connect directly with consumers and also for makers to set up shop as well.
Edible Alchemy was born of founder Alan Conrad’s love of fermentation and nurtured by his home city’s abundance of farms. Alan, along with partners Rory Laskar and Jessica Davis, creates ferments from locally-sourced fruit and vegetables and sells those good-for-you products at 14 — yes, 14 — farmers’ markets every week.
They create kimchi, tinctures and coconut yogurt, but kombucha and sauerkraut are at the heart of Edible Alchemy’s product line.
Sauerkraut is incredibly simple to make and the Edible Alchemy team hosts fermentation classes in shops around San Diego to teach people how to make their own kraut at home (we include one of their classes at the end of the episode). All you need is cabbage, salt and time and you too can create sauerkraut
Kombucha is a little more complicated, but only a little. If your not familiar, it’s a non-alcoholic fermented tea that has exploded in popularity. Because of the beneficial bacteria and enzymes present in kombucha, sales of this slightly fizzy, just-a-little-sour beverage jumped over 30 percent last year. The beverage is relatively simple to make. Brewed tea is sweetened with sugar and then a bit of SCOBY, or “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast,” is added and the liquid is left to ferment. At Edible Alchemy, they use a variety of teas as the base of their kombuchas and add in whatever is fresh from the farmers they source from at the market. When we were there shooting in April, Alan added freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and fresh rosemary to a jasmine tea kombucha. The flavor options are endless and limited only by what’s fresh from the farm and the Edible Alchemy team’s imaginations.
Catt Fields White | San Diego Farmers’ Markets
Catt Fields White is a farmers’ market hero.
She is the woman behind San Diego Markets, which runs the Pacific Beach Tuesday Farmers’ Market, Little Italy Wednesday Market and the Little Italy Marcato. All of her experience running farmers’ markets led her to launch the InTents Conference, which was designed to help ensure success for farmers, makers, chefs and other market-based businesses. Having an idea for a market-based business and being successful running a market-based business are two different things, and because of Catt, more of these small businesses are thriving and giving back to their respective communities.
Valley Center Growers | Valley Center, California & JR Organics | Escondido, California
We stopped by two of the farms that supply Edible Alchemy with produce for their ferments. JR Organics is a multi-generation farm that has been organic since 1986, making this one of the first certified organic farms in California. Cabbage, strawberries, carrots, squash … whatever is ripening on this diversified farm is what Edible Alchemy uses in its ferments. Valley Center Growers is a more specialized farm, focusing on citrus and avocado orchards. Jose and Sandy have been farming in the San Diego area for decades and its their grapefruit that Alan used when he made the grapefruit-rosemary kombucha for our shoot.