Triangle Ferment Fest

Sunday, October 13, 1–5 p.m.

Chatham Hill Winery, Cary


The first-ever Triangle Ferment Fest is coming to Cary on Sunday to celebrate all things fermented and educate the probiotic-curious on the benefits of healthy bacteria and yeast.

From yogurt to sourdough starters, to a SCOBY swap (yep, you heard that right), to sauerkraut and kimchi demos, DIY kombucha and beer classes, as well as cider, cheese, and kefir samplings, the Ferment Fest aims to create a culture around, well, microbiota culture.

“Many people don’t really understand what fermented foods are,” says co-founder Kerry Mead. “We’re hoping to raise awareness of what it is and how easy it is to do at home.”

Presentations include a sourdough demo by local baker legend Lionel Vatinet of La Farm Bakery, an overview of fermentation and its safety by North Carolina State University microbiologist Fred Bright. Cultures for Health, which sells culture kits and starters online, will be providing instructional how-to’s onsite. At the Culture Exchange Booth, holistic health expert Karla LaSasso is hosting a SCOBY swap, giving attendees the opportunity to exchange their SCOBY or other starter like milk kefir grains for a different one, and is offering free samples of “ginger bug,” a fermented ginger beverage, to taste.

There’s also a kombucha workshop led by Sarah Michalski of Cultured Carolina, who grew up fermenting and preserving and has been brewing kefir, kombucha, and jun (that’s green tea) for more than ten years. She also recently brewed espresso kombucha for Dunkin’ Donuts. Kvass, a nonalcoholic traditional Slavic beverage that’s made from rye bread, as well as beer are available for purchase, and Atlantic Brew Supply is teaching a DIY brew class. Durham’s Spicy Hermit will be offering kimchi, and Chatham Hill Winery is serving wine and non-fermented snacks like charcuterie.

Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut and popular beverages like kombucha are rich in probiotics, namely Lactobacilli and Bifodbacteria. Innumerable studies have found that these powerful microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining gastrointestinal health and boosting immunity. The billions of “good bacteria” found in probiotics help restore the balance of intestinal flora in the gut microbiome and improve overall function of these vast microscopic communities.

Some fermented foods like yogurt or kombucha require a starter, while others do not. Often referred to as “The Mother,” the SCOBY, an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, is a syntrophic mixed culture of yeast and bacteria that metabolizes sugar and caffeine, usually green or black tea, to generate probiotics, as well as vitamins such as B and C, amino acids, and enzymes, which aid in digestion.

Mead says that the Triangle’s Ferment Fest spawned from a grassroots effort that began in a Meetup group called Triangle Fermenting Foods. The goal of the fest was to foster a connection between the already existing fermentation communities here in the Triangle, since, as Mead says, there are currently limited resources for these businesses to gain exposure. Though a first for the Triangle, similar Ferment Fests have been held in San Diego, Boston, Atlanta, Austin, Albuquerque, Toronto, and even Germany, she says.

The Triangle Ferment Fest is expecting up to seven hundred people and is free to attend, with the exception of the cost of food and drinks. Optional pre-registration is available on EventBrite.

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