Fermented foods are nothing new. While humans have used fermentation — the process of altering the chemistry of a product by introducing yeast, bacteria or mold — to preserve food for thousands of years, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for innovation.
And that’s exactly what Karen Iverson Riggers set out to do when she started Reinvent Ferment with her husband, Eric.
“Part of the idea with Reinvent Ferment is that fermentation is a long cultural practice, but we wanted to reinvent some of the flavors to reintroduce them back into the modern palate,” Iverson Riggers says.
After fermenting and developing their own creations in small batches from their kitchen for six years, the Riggers made the move to Green Tomato, a commercial kitchen in Appleton they share with other small food producers. From that new space, they now produce 250 or 300 pounds of a product at a time.
Despite the increase in production, Iverson Riggers says they still enjoy experimenting and coming up with unique and delicious products. Offerings such as mustard green kimchi, garlic onion kraut, curry cauliflower, garlic green beans and banh mi pickles make up their product roster, which they update seasonally.
“Our products are really easy to use — they’re really versatile,” Iverson Riggers says. “They’re easy to put on your plate and make whatever you’re cooking taste better.”
Reinvent Ferment sells commercially to a few local restaurants, including Bowl 91, City Café, The Source Public House and Wildflower Pizzeria. Otherwise, foodies who are eager to get their hands on a jar can find them at the Downtown Appleton Farm Market, Appleton’s Jacobs Meat Market and the small market out front at Green Tomato.
Iverson Riggers says they’re excited to explore some innovative distribution models and launch even more seasonal products and new flavors. But, above all else, it’s the opportunity to connect with and educate customers that they enjoy most.
“We’re really excited about this business model because it helps connect people with what they consume,” Iverson Riggers says.