Amy and Sam Yarker are specialists in the art of fermenting food and drink. In an interview with Imogen Sandbach, they spoke all about the sustainable benefits of fermentation, and how you can waste less, do more good for your body and the rest of the planet.
Photo: Sam and Amy Yarker
WHAT IS THE FERMENTATION STATION ALL ABOUT?
The Fermentation Station is about bringing quality, small-batch, sustainable, seasonal, gut-loving and plant-based ferments to people. We inspire to educate more individuals on the diversity and deliciousness of fermented foods and the potential to lower our food waste whilst encouraging positive health outcomes.
WE WORK ON A SEASONAL BASIS, CREATING FERMENTS WITH THE BEAUTIFUL LOCAL FRUIT AND VEGETABLES THAT ARE GROWN AND SUPPLIED IN EACH GIVEN SEASON.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN STORY BEHIND THE FERMENTATION STATION?
Fermentation actually began as a hobby at home, the standard kimchi as a main
ferment is really becoming an in thing and I suppose for us that's what really drew us in. The time during Lock down 1.0 gave us the opportunity to nurture our passion and the ferments we wanted to experiment with. Before we knew it The Fermentation Station was born.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE FERMENTATION AS A PROCESS?
The sustainability focus of using seasonal waste products is what is most important to us. Using the process of fermentation to preserve what is seasonal enables you to use it for months to come. During lock down
when we went shopping we would pick up things that other people would look at and say I'm not going to buy that is it soft, off coloured or just wasn't perfect. We would take it home and we would have a look to see what we could do with it.
A good example is when we went to the bakery on Allerton road and the woman told us she was throwing these grapes out and asked if we wanted them. They're not grapes that I would traditionally look for, they were little tiny things but I chopped them up and fermented and they were absolutely fantastic. We put them on cheese boards, tajines and sandwiches for weeks and this would have gone in the bin, instead they were used in a multitude of recipes.
We inspire to educate more individuals on the diversity and deliciousness of fermented foods and the potential to lower our food waste whilst encouraging positive health outcomes.
WHAT ARE OTHER SUSTAINABLE ASPECTS OF YOUR BRAND?
As a vegan I would never create a brand that didn't revolve around my ethics and what I believe in, that is why all of our ferments are plant based. All of our packaging is recyclable, even our labels are compostable or they come from recycled paper so they can go back into the ground. None of our fermentation touches plastics as we want as little waste as possible when we make our products.
WHICH PRODUCT DO YOU RECOMMEND OUR READERS TO TRY?
Our Bread and Butter Pickles are our real hero show stopper product. We cannot make and jar these pickles fast enough before they fly off our shelves. They're chunky, crunchy and they have that sour delicious funk.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING TO LOWER THEIR FOOD WASTAGE?
We're more than happy to work with people and are open to collaborations to come in and show you the ropes but I think it's just about being a little bit imaginative and innovative with your thinking,
IT IS ABOUT CHANGING YOUR MINDSET AND VIEWING WASTE DIFFERENTLY.
We very quickly look at fruit or veg and say it's a little bit browner, it's a little bit of this colour and throw it away just because that's not what we're used to.
We were reading about how much food and drink gets wasted and found that when red wine bottles get thrown away there is usually a little bit left in the bottle, this leads to approximately £290 million worth of wine being thrown away every year.
The great thing is that when you leave red wine it oxidises and turns into vinegar so you could make your own red wine vinegar just by leaving it on the side and letting it oxidise, you can add a little bit of cider vinegar to speed it up but realistically if you leave it it's not a waste product, it just becomes another
product. You could just fill a jar with all the little bits of wine that's left over and by the end of the year you'll have a red wine vinegar that you can use in your cooking.
We are currently working on our Events and Workshops and would suggest anyone interested in the fermentation process or decreasing their food wastage to join us. Our workshops focus on getting your hands dirty and making your own ferments to take home. We will work alongside attendees to create delicious ferments that can be recreated and home and will include a taster of menu ideas for your ferment.
OUR EVENTS ARE AN EXPERIENCE BASED DINING AND SHOW THE DIVERSITY OF FERMENTED FOOD BEYOND WHAT YOU CAN PURCHASE IN A SUPERMARKET.
We would showcase the best of seasonal produce and include collaboration with
other small independent businesses.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FROM YOUR WORKSHOPS AND EVENTS?
We have already launched a couple workshops, we have a few running on the
Wirral and a little bit out towards Cheshire at the moment.
In the workshops you will learn the fundamentals and process of fermentation
and what it means. We will give you a taste of our kimchi and then we will give
you a taste of a shop bought one that you would find on a shelf which was probably pasteurised so you can compare the different taste and texture profiles.
You will then make your own custom jar, so you might want your kimchi spicy so we will show you how to do it. You might want more carrot or radish or you can add extra garlic, all of those things that's all customised by what you want and what your tastes tells you and then we would give you that jar then to take home with instructions on how to ferment it and how long it needs to be left. You will also be given suggestions of what you can cook with your ferment at home.
The other thing that we're doing which were really excited about is a 6 course tasting menu which is at Claremont farm. It is six courses that are all focused around ferments and they're not ferments that you would buy from our website.
There are interesting and innovative techniques that we are using that you wouldn't know were necessarily fermented but are actually traditional ferments. It will be 6 courses of small plates that will be paired with fermented drinks that will be alcoholic or non alcoholic. Throughout the night we will talk about the techniques and why we've chosen them. You can purchase tickets to our events via our website.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU?