BIOHM’s CEO Afif Ghannoum sits down with the guys at Cleveland Kraut to discuss the benefits of fermented foods.
Here’s what you’ll find out in this video:
- 43 seconds – Meet one of the founders of Cleveland Kraut Drew Anderson. One of Forbes 30 under 30 in Food.
- 1 minute 18 seconds – What are fermented foods?
- 1 minute 58 seconds – Fermented foods around the world.
- 2 minutes and 23 seconds – What are some accessible fermented foods?
- 3 minutes and 33 seconds – Learn about home fermentation.
- 4 minutes and 57 seconds – How did Drew learn about fermented food?
- 5 minutes and 57 seconds – Sauerkraut makes you tall.
- 6 minutes and 23 seconds – Drew’s mom is a chefologist.
- 7 minutes and 13 seconds – Artisanal takes on sauerkraut.
- 9 minutes and 0 seconds – Natural Probiotics
- 10 minutes and 2 seconds – Where can you buy Cleveland Kraut?
- 10 minutes and 55 seconds – A great story about Kimchi and marriage.
Watch the video here and you can read transcript below. If you’re ready to grab your BIOHM Health Probiotic, Prebiotic and more to optimize your digestive system, head over to the BIOHM Shop!
Afif Ghannoum: Hey everyone! This is Afif Ghannoum, CEO of BIOHM. And I’m here with Drew Anderson, the CEO of Cleveland Kraut. We’re both based here in Cleveland and I’ve gotten to know Drew, along with his brother Mac and his brother-in-law Luke, who founded Cleveland Kraut. I got to talking with them and I said, “Listen, fermented foods are a really cool way to get probiotics through your diet. So why don’t you come and we’ll talk to our audience about it?” And one of the cool things that I like to tell everybody about Drew is that he was actually named in Forbes as one of the 30 under 30 in food. This is a big deal: in various categories, Forbes picks 30 people under 30 years-old who are just killing it in their industry and Drew was chosen for food.
Drew Anderson: That was fantastic, a really big honor.
AG: Yeah! So, let’s start with the basics. What is fermented food? [laughter] And we’re cracking up here because we are apparently Amish when it comes to technical know-how. We’ve tried to record this about seventeen times, so we said, “This is it. If it doesn’t work this time, we’re done.” So again, what are fermented foods?
DA: Fermented foods are the old way of preserving food, the old-world way. At the end of the year, when the harvest is done and you’ve sold off your harvest, you take whatever is left in the field, you throw it in a big barrel, you salt it down, you macerate it, and ferment it out in the cellar in the barn. And this is what the family feeds off of for the entire winter.
AG: And I always associated it pickles and stuff that’s Eastern Europe, but you were telling me that it has been all over the world, forever.
DA: Yeah, you’re seeing that they ferment things down in South America, obviously Europe, Asia—especially Korea and Japan—they’re eating fermented foods every meal.
AG: Like kimchi in Korea, or peaches in Japan?
DA: Yeah, they do plums, soybeans—they call it nattō and it’s kind of mucousy and weird. But they eat fermented foods with everything.
AG: We talked about the exotic ones, but here in the U.S., what are some of the more accessible fermented foods? Obviously you guys do sauerkraut, but other than sauerkraut, what is there?
DA: Well you’re looking for the truly probiotic, raw fermented stuff.
AG: So when you say ‘raw,’ everyone grew up drinking pasteurized milk because you wanted to kill the germs, but these are good germs that you don’t want to kill, so you want something that’s ‘raw.’
DA: Exactly, these germs are probiotics that you want to improve your gut health. You’re looking for raw sauerkraut; kimchi; kombucha, which is fermented tea; kefir; raw, unpasteurized yogurts; some raw cheeses. Then there is some weirder stuff, like kvass, which is a fermented beverage from Russia and is made from fermented bread.
AG: Not Courvoisier, that will ferment you.
DA: No, that’s not to be confused with Courvoisier. That will kill more gut bacteria, probably.
AG: Well red wine is very good for your gut. But, for people who want to do this at home, you were telling me that you started doing this in your apartment.
DA: Yeah, we actually started fermenting in an apartment and it’s very easy to do. We encourage all of our customers to ferment at home. A lot of our home-fermenters turn into customers because they have something fermented and they come buy ours because it’s very similar. But if you’re wanting to make a sauerkraut, at the high level you’re really creating an anaerobic environment where lactic acid bacteria can thrive. So you need salt and cabbage. You chop up the cabbage and add 2-5% by weight of salt, and then you can add things like garlic, leeks, peppers, caraway seeds, black pepper—just be creative and have some fun. Then when you’re mixing it all up, you are macerating the cabbage, which means you’re breaking down the cellular structure, and then the salt will pull the water out. Then you weigh it down, submerging it in its own liquid, with a plate or bag full of water, and let it sit in a crock or glass jar. Then let that go for thirty days. And you want to keep that in a cool place like a cupboard or cellar, out of direct sunlight. Then you’ll let it go and it will bubble and turn sour, that’s the lactic acid. And it will be full of really good bacteria for you.
AG: So how did you really get into this? You were telling me that this is a family tradition, right?
DA: Well good food and science has been my family background. My mother was a chef and a biologist, and when we were really young she started all the farmers markets in Northeast Ohio. So when most kids were watching cartoons on Saturday, my brother, my sister, and I were out working the markets and helping to sell produce and setting up farmers. So we learned early on what good flavor was, what good food was, what fresh food was. And down the line, after a kind of long career, I’d been home, fermenting, and trying to get back to those good flavors that I had growing up in Cleveland. And since I was living somewhere else, when I moved back to Cleveland I was an avid home-fermenter. And Luke, my brother-in-law, was also making sauerkraut.
AG: And you can’t tell because we are sitting but Drew is almost six feet and seven inches, and we usually measure the height of anybody who comes in the office. And I’m very proud that no one is taller than me and I’m arguably six feet tall, depending on who you ask. But Drew is six-seven, and his brother Mac is almost six- ten. So as soon as I get home, I’m stuffing my son full of sauerkraut, he’s two-and-a-half
DA: And we talk about that when we demo our foods. People will ask how tall we are, and I’ll say, “I was five foot when I started.”
AG: So, you were brought up by a chefologist—I’m going to get that domain as soon as we’re done. We were introduced by a mutual friend who connected probiotics with fermented foods. And my experience with sauerkraut was it being a kind of gray matter. But your thing is putting an artisanal touch on it. And here are the bottles so you can see the cool branding that these guys have. And these are the guys that when I get dressed and think I’m looking cool, I think I’m looking like these guys. I’m surprised these two hang out with me. But, you guys have come up with some really cool artisanal takes on sauerkraut.
DA: Yeah, we really want to put flavor first. We didn’t like how the bagged sauerkraut you get in stores is mushy and slops out of the bag, it’s full of preservatives—sodium benzoate, things like that. We wanted really good flavor from our product, as well as being healthy. This is all raw, you’ll find it in the refrigerated section, when you open it up it still might bubble because it’s still fermenting and that’s the CO2 being released. It’s full of probiotics and really good for you.
AG: Then what are the different flavor profiles?
DA: Well we have some really interesting ones. Our ‘Beet Red’ is really simple: red cabbage, beets, and carrots fermented together. It’s good to fill out salads with goat cheese, walnuts, vinaigrette.
AG: That’s something I’ve noticed. I’ve had this stuff by itself and its tasty but you can mix it into anything.
DA: Absolutely! The ‘Gnar Gnar’ is the closest thing to kimchi that we do, at least right now (that’s a little foreshadowing). And it has got some zip, but it won’t knock you on the floor. People are eating this with their eggs in the morning with some avocado. They’re throwing the ‘Roasted Garlic’ on anything off the grill. Obviously you can put it on Eastern European foods, like perogies. One of the interesting things we do is the ‘Curry Kraut,’ it has some turmeric, some ginger, a little jalapeno which gives it a bit of zip. You can throw that on a fish taco, a salad—it’s fantastic. And we’re seeing people that are eating our products every single day.
AG: Yeah, and I think that part of that is people looking to add probiotics into their diets. And opposed to something that’s a forced probiotic, like a yogurt, this is a truly organic probiotic. So in addition to supplements like BIOHM, they are trying to find natural sources of probiotics in their diets. It’s not what I call a ‘forced probiotic,’ that’s thrown into a sparkling water or something.
DA: And a benefit to eating fermented foods and taking supplements like BIOHM is that because you’re increasing your gut health, you’re able to digest the other food in your diet much better. You’re pulling about more nutrients, more vitamins, more minerals from that food
AG: And we talk a lot at BIOHM about the science being rock solid that the more diverse your microbiome is, the more optimal many areas of your health are. And this is great because it’s a tasty and fun way to do it. So one of the things I always ask you is where is your product being sold, and I thought it would be farmers markets, but you’re in Whole Foods and more and more places every time we talk. You’re also in Kroger and all over New York City, where a lot of people use BIOHM.
DA: New York City can find us, we’re the fastest moving fermented product on the shelves. We’re in the Gourmet Garage, Dean & Deluca, Fresh Direct (online), and many others.
AG: Great, thanks. Now look at Mac here, the fermented behemoth.
Mac Anderson: [standing] This is all sauerkraut. I was five-foot when I started eating this
AG: Yeah, if I were his shirt, I’d look like a kid wearing his dad’s work shirt. So, obviously you age your kraut, but I was wondering if it was like wine and gets better with time. But you told me a great story, so go ahead and tell that.
DA: Yeah. We’ve had Korean friends whose father buried a jar of kimchi when they were born and when they got married, dug it up. So here’s this twenty-five to thirty-year-old kimchi, and as these things age the flavor gets more and more diverse and funkier and it’s still fantastic for you. And even our products still ferment in the fridge slightly and, because we haven’t arrested or pasteurized anything, it gets better and more flavorful over time.
AG: Well on your site, which is clevelandkraut.com, you guys have tons of recipes, more information about the foods, where it’s available, and you can get it online. And I’ll be sending out a coupon code that we’ll put on Facebook to get a discount on any of the Cleveland Kraut products. And you guys are starting to do some cool stuff beyond sauerkraut, right?
DA: Yeah, we’re creating some new products. We’re going to be doing real fermented vegetables, not just a quick pickle with vinegar and spices and it’s pasteurized. We’ll actually be putting it in a live brine and ferment the products. We’re also probably going to get into some beverages pretty soon. That’ll be really interesting. And we always have new seasonal varieties of kraut coming out.
AG: Awesome. Well thank you. It’s Drew, Mac, and Luke, the co-founders of Cleveland Kraut. Thanks for stopping by. And these guys are actually putting together a cool recipe book for BIOHM customers that will give super easy and fun ways to get fermented foods in your diets. And thanks again, Drew, and thanks for watching, hopefully this was helpful.
DA: Thanks for having me!
Ready to grab your BIOHM Health Probiotic, Prebiotic and more to optimize your digestive system? Head over to the BIOHM Shop!