Started in September of 2014, Fermentation Farm is riding this decade's wave of everything fresh and homemade with a storefront devoted to the craft of preserving food. It's the brainchild of Dr. Yasmine Mason, a Newport Beach chiropractor. Roughly eight years ago, she began fermenting foods for her family for the health benefits. Soon after, Mason found herself giving away her products to curious patients and friends at her kid's school. More and more requests for her fermented wares kept coming in until her entire home kitchen was overrun with giant crocks of vegetables, large glass jugs of kombucha and mason jars full of her addictive vanilla bean "Zingy Yogurt."
"Many of my patients at that time had gut-related problems, so these fermented foods are really beneficial for them," Mason said. "They are rich in probiotics, B vitamins and organic acids—a lot of nutrients that actually heal the gut."
Sadly, none of her patients wanted to ferment foods themselves, so Mason decided to open up Fermentation Farm, a shop where she could promote healthy living through fermentation and locally-sourced-high-quality-organic foods, all while teaching her customers how to make those exact same fermented products at home.
"We are membership based, so we function in the same way Costco functions," said Brad Hill, the store's director of marketing. "We want to make sure people are buying into this community, this idea, and supporting us going out and trying to find local products."
The membership is $5 per month or $25 for a lifetime membership. Currently, they offer a free month to try things out if you sign up through Yelp.
Once you walk inside the Farm, you'll notice that everyone working there is downright happy. As they prep ceramic crocks full of kraut and add fresh organic fruit juices to the fermented kombucha bases in the open-air kitchen, their skin glows with an aura that will make you wonder what in the hell they are doing that you aren't. In any case, walk up to the kombucha bar, chat up one of the associates and ask for a tour.
"We want people to come in and taste everything, get all their questions answered and most importantly learn something while they are here," Hill said. "We like to have a lot of hands-on time with our customers."
Start with some kombucha on tap. This isn't that overly-fermented-sour-stuff you find in the bottle at most health food stores; instead, their kombucha is on a 21-day ferment which makes the brew very light in terms of acidity, with more of a focus on added flavor. They have six flavors which you can readily sample at the bar and purchase in 12-ounce bottles or 68-ounce growlers. Overall, they offer 15 to 20 kombuchas which get cycled through the tap. Flavors like Black Currant and Ginger Berry are some of the favorites of Mason and Hill. They also make old-fashioned fermented sodas like root beer, vanilla soda and ginger soda, which I highly recommend if ginger is your thing.
The kitchen offers a sample platter of their various krauts, kimchis, salsas and pickled veggies. Their garlic kraut is one of their top sellers and rightfully so: heaps of funky garlic come through with each bite, making you wish you could add it on to a Polish dog during your next visit to Costco.
But more than any other product, Mason's "Zingy Yogurt" is something you need to try. It's a fermented raw yogurt made from raw cream and milk from Organic Pastures in Fresno, with added raw honey and fresh vanilla bean paste. They ferment it with a 200 year-old mother culture called "Viili" from Finland which gives the yogurt a unique fizziness thanks to the CO2 that it produces. Think carbonated ice-cream flavored yogurt that is lightly sweet and airy with the occasional nugget of cheese-like-cream if you're lucky, just be careful when you open it - the CO2 makes for some explosive yogurt. For those who can't have dairy, don't worry they have a coconut version just for you.
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Beyond that, they also carry a variety of locally-sourced items ranging from rich duck eggs, raw milk and butter to bison ribeyes, beef bones and bacon. You can also take in-store classes to learn exactly how they make their kombuchas, pickles, bone broth (stock!) and yogurt. If you'd like a freebie, Mason will be teaching a bone broth class at the Orange County Fair on August 4 from 7-8 p.m.
"We teach people how to make everything that we make," Mason said. "I think that is the best part of what we do."
Fermentation Farm, 1125 Victoria St., Ste. R, Costa Mesa, (949)650-0830;fermfarm.com.