How much do you know about fermented foods? Things like Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha and Curtido are steadily growing in popularity thanks to their health benefits and great taste. They’re also a sustainable way to use up a glut of vegetables, save money and time, and reduce food miles!
Here we introduce one of our newest market members, Caitlin of Delea Fermented Foods, who explains what inspired her to start her business, and why more people are incorporating fermented foods into their diets.
How did it all start?
“I didn’t know much at all about fermented foods until I went travelling and lived abroad,” says Caitlin, who started her fledgling food business in 2020. “In lots of the places I visited (the US, Poland and Portugal for example) fermented foods are much more prevalent and their usefulness is better understood.”
She continued: “When I researched them and start incorporating them into my own diet on a daily basis, I very quickly noticed a difference to my general health and energy levels.” So, when Caitlin returned to Cornwall and found it much more difficult to come by fermented foods, she boldly decided to create her own product range and hasn’t looked back since.
With the help, encouragement and support of her mum (Delea is an anagram of her name, Adele, by the way!) Caitlin created recipes, bought all the equipment required, and began sourcing ingredients. She now sells her products at the our Truro and Falmouth markets as well as online, and has lots of exciting plans for the future too…
Where does the produce come from?
Caitlin sources as much as possible locally, from organic growers if she can. “I’ve found a great source of organic Cornish cabbages which is handy as I use a lot,” she says, “and I’ve been using produce from St Agnes-based organic cooperative, Goonown Growers, who are fellow market traders.”
How are the products made, and what does Delea Fermented Foods produce?
“It’s simply a combination of the lovely fresh vegetables, salt, a mix of spices and the starter or mother,” explains Caitlin. “I mix it all together and then pack it very tightly into German crockpots. It’s then left for three weeks to slowly ferment until it’s ready. Fermented foods are slow foods – they can’t be hurried! I love listening to them all bubbling away, doing their thing. It’s wonderful to start the process and then be able to sit back and watch it continue naturally.”
Delea Fermented Foods is made up of a core range which includes Kimchi, Sauerkraut and Curtido, supplemented by seasonal specials depending on what veg is in season and therefore widely available. Caitlin also has ‘make your own kits’ to help people start their journey in making fermented foods at home.
Why fermented foods?
“Fermented foods are a live product, containing lots of ‘good bacteria’ which helps nurture a healthy gut,” explains Caitlin. “Our modern diets contain lots of things which are difficult for our bodies to process and which kill off that good bacteria – fermented foods help restore the balance.”
There are lots of other reasons fermented foods are great, including their potential environmental benefit. Fermented foods are a good way of using up gluts of seasonal vegetables, so less is wasted and you can store up the nutrition for the future. In the winter, rather than buying vegetables that have been flown miles, reach for a tin of fermented food instead and you’ll also save time and money on the cooking!
What have been the challenges?
Caitlin says: “People often aren’t too familiar with fermented foods; they confuse them with pickles, but in fact they are very different. When I explain what they are and all the ways you can use them, people are really keen to try them. I always recommend starting with just a spoonful a day on the side of one of your meals; they are a live product, so you need to see how your body responds.”
Caitlin recommends trying a spoonful of one of her jars on the side with a pizza, pasta dish or salad. They are also great with a cheeseboard, or to accompany a roast dinner for example.
And the best thing about running a small food business?
“I love talking to people at the market and explaining more about my products,” says Caitlin. “It’s really satisfying when people come back a few weeks later and say that it’s really had a positive impact on them and buy some more!”