I had the opportunity to get in touch with Seth again, to learn more about the Berkshires krauter.
LF: How did you become interested in sauerkraut and lacto-fermentation?
ST: I became interested in sauerkraut and lacto-fermentation in the fall and winter of 1998 when I was an apprentice at Hawthorne Valley Farm. There were a few pounds of leftover storage cabbage. At the time I had read about different food preservation techniques and they all seemed very fuel intensive. At about the same time I tried raw sauerkraut for the first time and I had a "Eureka" moment. I had to try to make it myself. Fermented vegetables seemed so alive and tasted so good compared to canned or frozen (or even fresh Californian) vegetables. I had grown up in New York eating raw sour pickles without it even registering; all of a sudden it clicked, and I had a goal in mind.
A typical production day (3-4 days a week) in the fall involves prepping hundreds to thousands of pounds of vegetables (with 1 or 2 helpers), shredding these vegetables, and packing them into barrrels with salt and spices. Such production days can take 8 hours. We have made as many as seven 300 pound barrels in an 8 hour shift. That's a lotta cabbage! In the late winter and early spring months we pack sauerkraut 2-3 days a week, depending on orders, so things are not as hectic as in the fall.
The interest in lacto-fermented vegetables has increased over the last ten years. The Weston A Price Foundation seems to have had a lot to do with this resurgence of fermented food in general, as well as raw milk, and grass raised livestock. With this interest in lacto-fermented vegtables I seem to average quite a few phone calls a week. I have advised and consulted other kraut upstarts as well.