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BLOOMferments paves path for fermented foods

A new local organic business is creating healing concoctions through various forms of fermentation.

What exactly are these BLOOMferments products?

Kombucha: Fermented tea beverage that starts with sweet tea that is fermented by adding a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). This culture, unlike fermenting beer, can be reused for future batches and continues to grow and develop, creating additional SCOBYs with each batch. Kombucha is then bottled for a second fermentation after the originally sweet tea becomes tart, Kombucha is naturally effervescent, and has been said to have the ability to make your body more alkaline, along with other health benefits.

Kefir: Beverage that traditionally contains milk with a culture of bacteria and yeast that is similar to that of kombucha. Unlike the flat sheets of culture in Kombucha, the cultures for kefir but are grains that resemble “squishy cauliflowers,” says Helmus. The grains are added to milk,  and the fermentation process creates a tangy drinkable yogurt. BLOOMferments kefir is considered mild; store bought kefir is much more pungent.

Sauerkraut: Fermented cabbage containing various flavors allowing the fermentation of any vegetable. BLOOMferments infuses their sauerkraut tastes with different spices and herbs.  

Kimchi: Korean sauerkraut, that varies in which vegetables are used depending on the region. In general Kimchi includes napa cabbage, daikon radishes, crushed red pepper, ginger and garlic and can have onions and carrots. Kimchi is fermented the same way as kraut.

/courtesy of BLOOMferments

Emily Helmus and Amber Rose are the team behind BLOOMferments, a new local business providing kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. Their business, rooted in a curiosity of fermentation of tea and vegetables, began thanks to the urging of friends and bartering recipients.

Helmus credits Micah McLaughlin, a holistic health doctor at Continuum Healing, for urging her to sell the homemade kombucha he was receiving in barter for his services in 2012. With little funds and in need of lower payments, Helmus had offered her services of crafting kombucha, growing food, and baking in return for sessions.

McLaughlin was so impressed that he not only suggested she turn her craft into a business, but ensured she could wholeheartedly count on his backing.

Then Helmus met Rose, and the two quickly realized they would make a great team.

“We started fermenting and learned together. I got a SCOBY from a friend in Chicago, brewed some kombucha and then I would give the SCOBY to Emily and then we both started brewing kombucha. Then we both began fermenting all these things: sourdough, cheese, yogurt kraut... and we just ran with it and became obsessed,” says Rose. “We even began to make fermenting jokes.”

Helmus says she knew from their first conversation that Rose would complete the business. They became 50/50 business partners and created BLOOMferments, their brain child. Not content to have the idea as just a side business, Helmus and Rose made BLOOMferments a main priority, and it quickly became their job.

It wasn't long before this business became less of a job and more of an obsession fueled by passion. Their ambition fueled their progress, as they fermented batches of kombucha, stayed up late nights testing products and formulating business plans, and BLOOMferments was born.

“It is really important to work with someone who knows what field you’re working in because then you can feed ideas off each other and bounce and keep each other informed about the process of fermenting. We are each other’s fermentation support system,” says Rose.

The two began raising funds to start their business by hosting a backyard fundraiser where close friends, family and community members were invited to try their first batch of finished products. Over 50 people gathered, not only providing funds but fostering ideas and opinions about particular batches and tastes that were gathered to develop future plans.

Fueled by this community backing, Helmus and Rose successfully utilized Kickstarter, an online avenue to raise funds for creative projects.

As more people became interested in products, the two reached out to Uptown Kitchen in Eastown. Uptown Kitchen has been very supportive from the beginning of BLOOMferments needing a place to work. The team is using their commercial kitchen space, which provides the legal requirements to broaden their sales venues, to work steadily to fill the growing demand for their creations.

CVLT Pizza will soon have BLOOMferments kombucha on tap. Bartertown, Nourish, Treehuggers and Global Infusion are eager to put BLOOMferments on their shelves. Helmus and Rose plan to stick with providing to to mainly restaurants to produce less waste through packaging. They also are eliminating plastic from their use and waste 100%.

“We have dreamed about doing small amounts of packaging- but that would be something where the ratio of package to bulk restaurant items would be different,” says Helmus.

The two are currently working on featuring growlers of kombucha. Much like other growlers and glass bottle containers, they'll include a deposit so customers are encouraged to return the bottles.

Helmus and Rose experimented with putting kombucha on tap at CVLT Pizza.

“We did a trial run and kegged our kombucha and we were really afraid and it turned out great,” says Rose. “It was beautiful, the best kombucha we ever tasted.”

Helmus and Rose will soon be offering starter classes and kits to help people to ferment in their own homes.

For those not ready to make their own, BLOOMferments will offer staple products of kombucha, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, as well seasonal options for holidays. Committed to sourcing only local ingredients, Helmus and Rose work only with items they can grow themselves or purchase locally.  

The two urge people with ideas and creative talents to not be afraid and just pursue their goals. They've learned from their own recent experiences that there are more benefits to reaching out to others doing similar things than just learning information and resources.

"They will become your supporters,” says Rose.

BLOOMferments will continue grow and build on that support, working to feed the demand for their fermented goods.

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