KAYTE YOUNG: I am Kayte Young. This is Earth Eats from WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: That is kind of the joy of kombucha. Every batch is going to be slightly different.
MEGAN GOSSETT: The fact that every kombucha is going to be different, I think that that is just something that is incredible. It is like the ‘buch’ has a mind of its own. And every brand and every way that a company brews is going to be a little bit different.
KAYTE YOUNG: This week on the show we visit with kombucha brewers at Ferm Fresh in Terre Haute. About their shop in the 12 Points district, featuring their effervescent fermented teas on tap. And we talk with a Terre Haute bread baker and grower about flowers. The kind you bake with and the kind you make bouquets with. All that just ahead, stay with us.
KAYTE YOUNG: Thanks for tuning in to Earth Eats. I'm Kayte Young.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Kombucha will catch you off guard if you have never had it before. We can explain it very thoroughly but I do not think that will prepare you for your first taste of kombucha. We can say it is a sweet tea that has been fermented. And so immediately you are thinking oh it is going to be reminiscent of tea. It really does not taste like tea at all. It is naturally effervescent. It has a little bit of tang to it because it is acidic. So the PH is pretty low on it which helps no other bad bacteria collonate the beverage. So it is a very safe drink. But being so acidic, it has hints of vinegar to it sometimes. So you have got the fizzy fizziness and then you have got the acidity of that vinegar taste.
KAYTE YOUNG: Anthony Gossett is describing kombucha. One of the items on the menu at Ferm Fresh in Terra Haute.
MEGAN GOSSETT: I am Megan Gossett, co-owner of Ferm Fresh. We have been open here at our location store front for three and a half months now.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: And I am Anthony Gossett, co-owner of Ferm Fresh.
MEGAN GOSSETT: We are a a fermentation bar. So, everything that we do has an aspect of fermentation, non-alcoholic. We kind of got into it probably five or six years ago. I had a lot of gut issues. I found kombucha. And it really helped me not be on medicine and going to different doctors. So it has been a lifesaver in that aspect. And we brewed at home and really just wanted to share it with the community. It kind of changed our life overall. So then we dug into sauerkraut, kimchee, fermented hot sauce. Kind of got a lot of things going to get a well rounded fermentation diet.
KAYTE YOUNG: Ferm Fresh has a variety of fermented products available but brewing kombucha was their first passion. I asked them to explain a little more about what kombucha is.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: The process of making kombucha, you simply start with a sweet tea batch. And then you add the starter culture, which is called SCOBY. A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. So the yeast consume the sugars, create ethanol. The bacterial eat the ethanol. They consume the ethanol and create a ton of beneficial bi-products for us. And also multiple so it is rich in pro-biotic bacteria. The beneficial bi-products are anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant rich, also full of electrolytes. Just a really awesome beverage that we flavor and make taste great and try to get the community healthier through that.
KAYTE YOUNG: Just a reminder here from your Earth Eats host that claims linking particular foods with specific health outcomes can be complicated. I of course wanted to hear more about their kombucha flavors.
MEGAN GOSSETT: So we have four staple flavors that we bottle and wholesale at locations around Terra Haute. They are Ginger Bliss. We use a candied ginger that we steep in our green tea kombucha for 36 hours and then strain it out, so it gives it a very unique flavor. It is not a spicy, punchy ginger flavor. It is our most popular. Then we have a peach, lemonade and orange. Those are kind of our staples. We use organic fruit juices or organic fruit for everything we do. And then at the tap room here we are able to experiment more and that is kind of my forte. That is what I love, to be in the kitchen creating. We have done like a lavender, thyme honey. We try to use raw local honey from around Terra Haute. And any dried herbs from our garden, really that is just being in the kitchen, talking to each other and creating is a lot of fun. We did our first savory flavor about a month ago. It was a tomato basil. It turned out really good. We got our organic basil from White Violet Center, out at Saint Marys. And tomatoes from our garden and just created. And it was good, it made a really good bloody Mary mixture as well.
KAYTE YOUNG: Megan and Anthony started the business a few years ago and quickly found a receptive audience.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: In 2019 we were starting the spring of 2019, just brewing at home. And we were having a lot of fun doing it, a lot of fun creating different flavors. We were just giving it away to our friends and family, and they seemed to really like it. So, we had free time that summer and we decided to sign up for the Terra Haute Farmers Market. So, we started our first farmers market with 12 bottles of kombucha, a one gallon batch, just to see how it would go, it was just going to be a little fun hobby. And it took off. So, we continued through 2019, going to the farmers market. And then in 2020 started wholesaling kombucha. We rented a certified kitchen. So we ramped up production which was a challenge all in itself. Scaling up kombucha can be a headache but we worked through it, figured it out. And we started wholesaling to eight locations in Terra Haute. At the end of the 2020 we were trying to decide what route we wanted to go. There was an opportunity for a store front. And we decided to go for it.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: So, in March of 2021, we signed the lease and proceeded the build out. We did 95% of everything ourselves here and Meg is great at decorating. So, she put her spin on everything and it turned out amazing. So, we're just having a lot of fun, getting to meet new customers. And then experimenting with flavors and new fermented products.
KAYTE YOUNG: I am always curious about what drives someone to want to start a business. But in this case I wanted to hear more about why they made the jump from selling wholesale to opening a store front. Especially in the midst of a pandemic.
MEGAN GOSSETT: A big part, we have a daughter who just turned 12 and we wanted more family time and kind of to be our bosses. We really just saw an opportunity and thought hey, now is the time. Everything is never going to be perfect and lined up in the correct way. So, we just kind of jump off the cliff is kind of what we say, signed the lease and just decided to go for it. And so far we are back to wearing masks in here. And it has been okay. Everybody has been very accepting.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Yeah we have had struggles to deal with via Covid. But we have overcome. Our customers are really accepting of any changes we put into place and they are more than willing to follow the protocols that we have. We try to make this as a safe as an environment as we possibly can.
MEGAN GOSSETT: I would say for me personally we loved the interaction at the farmers market. Getting to talk to people, I guess our target market. Somebody asked us that. It is wild, it is all over the place. We have a lot of older, retired individuals that are coming and filling growlers every week because they feel better, drinking the kombucha. And so we really loved that communication with each and every-- the couples or whoever they were, families. And you miss that at wholesale. You are taking the bottles, you are dropping them off and see you later, you do not get to talk to anybody that is purchasing your stuff, and explaining anything about it. So, for me, I think that that is kind of the difference there and I wanted that.
KAYTE YOUNG: Ferm Fresh occupies a key position in an area known as 12 Points. An historic district business currently undergoing revitalization in Terra Haute.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Everybody that lives in 12 Points has been yearning for this to come back to life. Back in the 50's and 60's it was the place to be. There was every kind of shop imaginable, things for kids to do, adults to do. A movie theater and that all just kind of deteriorated. And the area was in ruins. So, there's been a 12 Points revitalization project going on for a few years now. And it has really picked up steam within the last year or two. So, the building we are in has three different shops and we are all open for business. We are the first ones in the area here to really get going. The owners of the building have bought the old hotel behind us and plan on having a lot more shops in that. So, it is going to be a kind of a destination area. You are just going to make a day of it. If you are going to come walk around shops to shop, then get a coffee here, get a pie over here and get a pint of kombucha over here.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: We are just a tight knit community and we are always willing to help each other out. There is always something going on. Some festival, some event that we are all taking part in. And if anybody needs help, we are there for each other.
MEGAN GOSSETT: The goal of the revitalization was 12 businesses in 12 months, that was for 2021. And people were like oh that is ambitious, but so far people have made announcements and they are working on it. And this building was kind of the first three to be open. It just feels like all the pieces of the puzzle are together and so many people want to help with it. And then the community, whether they live in 12 Points or not, they are coming to support us because they want all of this to succeed. And everybody to work together continually.
KAYTE YOUNG: The building has all of the charming features of an historic store front. High ceilings, big windows, interesting materials and finishes. And their space has a special feature that MEGAN and Anthony have worked to their advantage.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: First of all the vault is an original vault from the 1920's, 1930's. The location we are in used to be Swanders Savings and Loan. So, the vault is, I would say about nine foot by eight foot and it has the original door on it. It looks really awesome, so that is the first thing that is going to catch your eye. Then you will walk through the doorway into the vault and we have the walls covered in maps. We have sectional in here, you can fit about six to eight comfortably in here, if you want to have a get together. And it is quiet, it is private, it is warm. It has a really warm, cozy feel to it. So, we are really happy people. And then the building itself is just as old as that obviously. So, it has got a lot of character. We have taken the plaster off of the pillars and exposed the brick. We have the original floor, we scraped the glue from the carpet off of it and polished it. It is still there in all of its glory and it compliments the space really well.
MEGAN GOSSETT: We are corner space and the windows were key because we wanted the aesthetic of plants everywhere. The first goal before we even purchased one thing was we want this to feel like you are not in Terra Haute. We are from here, not that we do not love this town, but we needed something completely different. So, we wanted a vibe, a big city vibe in a small town. The patio was important, we fenced that in, there is chalk out there for kids to play, be safe. Hanging swings were probably very early on something that I had to have in front of the big windows. And I just wanted everything to be comfortable. I wanted it to feel like it had been here forever, with the vintage items that we incorporated. Yes, bohemian, eclectic, very maximalist in décor.
KAYTE YOUNG: Having kombucha on tap can make it feel more like a bar than a café. But, there is no liquor license here.
MEGAN GOSSETT: Family friendly was a first priority for us because we have a daughter. And you get the feel because it is on tap, you can feel a part of maybe drinking an adult beverage. But it is non-alcoholic. So, for the sober community or people that are going to be the driver that is kind of our next step, is to get this on tap at bars. For people to have in between their beverages, because it is hydrating and electrolyte rich. But also for somebody who wants to go out but does not want to drink that is a big part of where we are moving with it.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: There are quite a few people who do not have any issues that just come and they enjoy the twang of the beverage, so to say. It is a whole different experience drinking kombucha, especially if you have never had one. We get to see the look on peoples faces, good and bad. Some people love it right off the bat, when they have never had it. And then other people take a little bit of time.
KAYTE YOUNG: And Ferm Fresh is more than just kombucha.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: We do hot sauce. We go milder wild with the hot sauce. I am a wild hot sauce fan. I love the extreme heat but also has to have some flavor. And if anybody is out there that is like me, it is hard to find a really good balance of those two things in the stores. So I set out to make the perfect hot sauce. And then we just continue to make different hot sauces, always experimenting. So, we have a hot sauce for everybody. Then we do two types of sauerkraut. We do a unbeetable, which is cabbage, beets, caraway seed and garlic. So, it is a purple kraut by the end of the fermentation. Then we do a verde which is a cabbage, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic and onion. Kimchee, we pride ourselves on having some really good kimchee. So, we make that and normally we have it in stock here but it is hard to keep on the shelves, it is pretty popular. And then salad dressing, like Meg said, and then we also do food items here.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: So, we do pop up food items. We do soups, chillies. We have charcuterie boards available on the daily. And kind of whatever we feel like that week, we will post it on social media and see if anybody wants to come try some.
KAYTE YOUNG: I first learned about Ferm Fresh from Candace Minster at the White Violet Center for Eco Justice. She recently started baking sourdough bread to sell and the folks at Ferm Fresh had something to do with that.
MEGAN GOSSETT: We took her sourdough class and loved the idea of it. But we were like this is like having another child. How she makes it sound so easy and she has just got this system. And I feel like I can ferment all kinds of things but sourdough just was not in my wheelhouse. So, that was kind of a conversation, hey do you have time? Could you make this because this pairs exactly with what we want to do. So, every charcuterie board gets two slices or four slices, depending on the size of board of sourdough. And seasonally now we make fermented pumpkin butter. So, it is similar to an apple butter but that is great as well, so we will do a couple of slices of her bread with a little thing of pumpkin butter. Just a little snack. We are very thankful for Candace and her fresh sourdough bread.
KAYTE YOUNG: We will hear from Candace Minster about her new bakery, Terra Fleur, later in the show.
KAYTE YOUNG: As Megan and Anthony have mentioned, there has been an element of experimentation with Ferm Fresh. This approach led to a product that they previously might have thought of as a mistake.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Kombucha is very needy. It requires your attention, especially at the end of the seven to 10 day fermentation period. If you do not catch it at the right time, it becomes too acidic. And it actually turns into vinegar. So, if you let kombucha ferment as long as it will go, we let our kombucha vinegar ferment for three months, you are left with a really flavorful, unique vinegar, that is still pro-biotic rich, and has a lot of organic acids in it which are beneficial for your body. So, we used to get kind of upset with ourselves when we would miss that perfect window of our kombucha, but now we have started using our kombucha vinegar in everything, such as the shrubs. We also add it to our hot sauce. We have...
MEGAN GOSSETT: Salad dressings.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: ...salad dressings yes.
MEGAN GOSSETT: So, we make a salad dressing specifically with our kombucha vinegar. It is called Sunshine. And so it is a really great vinaigrette, awesome on top of salads and wraps, French fry dip. All kinds of things.
KAYTE YOUNG: In case you are wondering what a shrub is, I asked MEGAN to explain.
MEGAN GOSSETT: It is a house made fruit syrup, one of our most popular right now for the fall is apple pie. So, we get local apples from an orchard. Add sugar and they ferment for 36 hours. We strain the apples and then add kombucha vinegar. So, it is a two to one ratio, double the vinegar and then the fruit syrup. Then it is a drink over ice. We add two ounces of that syrup, top it with sparkling water. The apple pie gets a shake of organic cinnamon on top. You stir it and he says it tastes like a apple pie filling. It is bad for you but it is actually not.
KAYTE YOUNG: One of their newest menu items made from their own vinegar is fire cider.
MEGAN GOSSETT: Fire cider is kind of an age old tradition. I explain it to people in the sense of like the hot toddy remedy or elderberry syrup. It is traditionally made and steeped with apple cider vinegar. Hot peppers can be jalapeños, habaneros, herbs, peppercorns, citrus of some sort, oranges, lemons. That is the basic. You can kind of get wild and add different things. But we decided to do it and make it with our kombucha vinegar. Very reminiscent in flavor to apple cider vinegar and acidity. We steeped it for the first time for a month. We used habaneros, onions, orange, lemon, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Ginger, horseradish root, turmeric root. It has just got a ton of root vegetables in there with a lot of beneficial compounds. After that month we packaged it and we sell it in eight ounce and 16 ounce bottles. You can take a tablespoon of it a day, it should last you quite a while.
KAYTE YOUNG: Finally, I wanted to talk to them about the challenges of scaling up production of their products since fermentation can be somewhat unpredictable.
MEGAN GOSSETT: When we scaled up the first time, it is not like doubling a recipe. I mean it was very clear early on that you have to figure out this. The time is going to be different, the amount of days, the temperature, fluctuation. And now we are brewing 80 gallons every six days. So, trying to get that right and we have far more of a process I would say with testing the PH and stopping it and knowing that if it is refrigerated it will kind of slow that down. So, most all of our products, except for our most recent fire cider, everything has to be refrigerated. So, that helps us maintain consistency. It is a living product and it will change flavor and can be good or bad.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: It can be fussy sometimes. It does what it wants. And then sometimes there is just no way to control that. So you are kind of at the mercy. Consistency is key in most aspects of life. But it is kind of hard to do that with something that has a mind of its own. So we do our best to do a consistent product but at the same time that is kind of the joy of kombucha. Every batch is going to be slightly different.
MEGAN GOSSETT: Something that is very cool about that, the fact that every kombucha is going to be different. You can have a brand that might be more acidic or might have a bigger punch of a flavor. I think that is just something that is incredible. It is like the buch has a mind of its own. Every brand and every way that a company brews is going to be a little bit different. We have scaled up since we have even been open here in the last three and half months. And we got bigger containers. We were brewing in seven gallon buckets. And then we got 15 gallon containers, so we are going about our way and it gets done after about ten days. And we taste it and something was way off, and we are like oh my goodness. We added the amount of tea and sugar and it was completely off. We did too much and the water ratio was not right. So now we triple check each other when it is brewing day of this much, okay. How much loose leaf tea?
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Yes it was our muscle memory was taking over on the ingredients that we had been used to. And we just went with the flow, and so yes that was scary. I think that was after our first week open. So, we were in panic mode. But we did have back up batches, so, it was all okay and we learned from that one very quickly.
KAYTE YOUNG: After our conversation in the vault, it was time to give this stuff a taste. Anthony lined up three samples for me from their tap. Pumpkin, ginger and apple cider.
KAYTE YOUNG: Okay I am going to try the pumpkin first.
KAYTE YOUNG: Yes you are definitely getting that, you know I want to say vegetable, like that kind of, yes I am tasting pumpkin but it is not like a sweet pumpkin pie spice kind of a deal at all. But definitely has that feeling of pumpkin. Okay and this one is the ginger.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: That is right.
KAYTE YOUNG: I am going to save that one for last because I love ginger. Okay so this one is apple pie.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Apple cider.
KAYTE YOUNG: Apple cider okay. That is really nice. That has kind of a classic flavor. Yes, the apple is really crisp and refreshing. You know the ginger is so good.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Thank you.
KAYTE YOUNG: Yes. I think that is my favorite.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Awesome.
KAYTE YOUNG: It is really good. So crisp and-- but it does not have that really strong bite of ginger either. It is more, it tastes very fresh.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: So we like using green tea kombucha because it aids in the smoothness.
KAYTE YOUNG: These are definitely tangy. They have got a tartness but it is not like vinegar. At all. It is really nice, very clean.
ANTHONY GOSSETT: Thank you, thank you for trying.
KAYTE YOUNG: Oh yes thank you so much for letting me try. That is great.
KAYTE YOUNG: That was Anthony Gossett in the tasting room of Ferm Fresh in Terra Haute. I spoke with Anthony and his wife and co-owner, Megan Gossett about their new fermentation bar located in the historic 12 Points district. Find out more on our website, Eartheats.org. Coming up we talk with Candace Minster about her new bread making endeavor, Terra Fleur. Stay with us.
KAYTE YOUNG: Thank you for listening to Earth Eats. Kayte Young.
KAYTE YOUNG: We are here with Candace Minster at the White Violet Center for Eco Justice, near Terra Haute. And what are you currently doing?
CANDACE MINSTER: I am currently mixing a batch of dough that is going to become sourdough bread. This is the standard country style loaf that I make and this particular batch is going to go to Ferm Fresh Fermentation Bar, which is on the north side of the town here. And they have been using these for their charcuterie boards and soups and whatnot. Then I have other batches that I am working on that are also going to be for sale in our farm store here at White Violet Center. And this is a work out, so if I sound out of breath, it is because I am mixing a lot of dough. And I mix it by hand because it is harder, it takes more work but you can get a good sense for the dough if you are touching it.
CANDACE MINSTER: So, lots of things can affect it. Atmosphere, temperature, you know is it a humid day? Is it a dry day? Is it cold? When you get a sense I feel like so much of baking bread, especially long fermentation sourdough which is what I do, so no additional commercial yeast are in it. A lot depends on just how it is behaving. It is a live thing, so you cannot just say two hours it will be done. It is the way it touched, the way it feels when you touch it. The way it behaves.
KAYTE YOUNG: Candace Minster is a regular guest on Earth Eats since back when Annie Corrigan was the host. She served as the garden manager at the White Violet Center for Eco Justice at the Sisters of Providence Saint Mary of the Woods Campus in Terra Haute. She has been growing food there and coordinating their fiber arts program for many years. She introduced Annie to their alpacas, talked about marketing ginger to chefs, shared the details of a cucumber grafting experiment with me a couple of years ago. And gave me pointers on successfully growing eggplant.
KAYTE YOUNG: After 17 years of growing food, she recently switched to cut flowers, when she discovered a demand for their vibrant bouquets at the Terra Haute farmers market.
CANDACE MINSTER: We used to have a little patch. It was 15 by 15 feet. And then a few years ago I doubled it to 30 by 30 because I was like you know, these little Mason jars of flowers seem to go pretty quickly. So, what if I grew some more? And then I did and they continued to sell really well. So, then when we decided to transfer away from the CSA model, we were like well let us put more into cut flower production. I knew that I was not going to be able to dedicate the time and energy into that and still manage everything else. So, I presented an option. Hey, I think this would work, what do you say I become the flower lady?
CANDACE MINSTER: So, the director was amenable to it. The sisters were amenable to it so we decided to give it a go and that is what we have been doing. So, now I am officially the flower and fiber arts coordinator. I still manage our fiber art program, that has not changed. I have been doing that for quite a while too. But now I just look after our flower patch. So, now we have an eighth of an acre in cut flower production. And so the last two seasons that has been my focus. So, we do mixed bouquets for farmers markets, sales for our farm store sales. I sell direct to florists and to grocery, Baesler's Market in Terra Haute has been awesome all through the growing season. They are buying our mixed bouquets and having them for sale in their grocery stores. In addition to using within their own floral services.
CANDACE MINSTER: And I do some special orders, on campus, lots of folks have loved ones that are in the health care facility that is here on campus, as well as if folks want to send flowers to a sister, then they can do that and we deliver on campus as well. So that is what I have been doing. And so when I did that I moved down from full time to three quarter time. And I guess I just wanted to stay busy.
KAYTE YOUNG: As someone who loves making things, and who is used to going all the time, it was not long before Candace Minster found herself launching a new project. This time on her own terms.
CANDACE MINSTER: Really the idea for baking came from Megan and Anthony Gossett, who were farmers market friends, with Ferm Fresh. And we were both vendors at the market for years. Then they were getting ready to start their fermentation bar and they knew they wanted to have these charcuterie boards and they asked if I would make the bread. At first I thought that it was going to be too much to try to balance. And it was actually my husband who was like you should do it, go for it. So, I talked with the folks here at White Violet Center because we have this commercial kitchen space. It is inspected so that we can do resale of value added items like pestos, soups and different things that we have to offer. Now that said, it is busy all through the growing season. We are producing quite a bit.
CANDACE MINSTER: But, because I am looking at using it in off peak times, before my work day starts, and then at the end of it, it was working out okay for me to use this space to produce breads for MEGAN and Anthony at Ferm Fresh. And then also for sale here in our farm store.
KAYTE YOUNG: But it is your own business? It is not part of White Violet?
CANDACE MINSTER: Correct. It is my own business. So the name, Terra Fleur derived from an Instagram account of all things. I had had a personal account for many years and then once we were starting to do a lot of flowers, and I wanted to be able to reach out to folks publicly but my personal account has pictures of my kids and you know. So, I was like well I am just going to create a public account. Then our new garden manager, John Michael Elmore, we were brainstorming names and then he came up with Terra Fleur as kind of a play on Terra Haute and with the flower, so that is what I did. And I had lots of flower pictures on that. Then when I was thinking of for the bakery what my name would be, it was like well there is also that play of flower to flour. The kind of flower you pick and then the flour you use to make bread. So, just stuck with that name.
KAYTE YOUNG: So, to clarify, she shares photos of the flowers she grows with White Violet on the Terra Fleur Instagram account, but the name of her own bread baking business is Terra Fleur.
KAYTE YOUNG: How long has this space been a commercial kitchen?
CANDACE MINSTER: Goodness, I think it is going on three years.
KAYTE YOUNG: So not that long? Another question I have just from looking around is what kind of oven are you using to bake your bread?
CANDACE MINSTER: I know yes. So, that is the hardest part of the whole process, is that it is just a home oven. And when I bake I will bake in a vessel because that creates the ideal environment where the bread is as it gets really hot. It fits in an enclosed cast iron container. Then some of the steam will start to evaporate and then it can caramelize itself. So then you can get that nice characteristic bubbly, dark, beautiful artisanal crust. You then have the nice soft crumb in the middle and that is really what I want. So, I bake in combo cookers, cast iron combo cookers, so it is technically two pieces, a deep skillet and then a shallow skillet. And the shallow skillet can become the lid. And so that is what I bake in. So I can only fit four in a time in the oven.
KAYTE YOUNG: But they do not take that long to bake so I could see how you could still work it out?
CANDACE MINSTER: Yes. You can do batches, yes, subsequent batches. Because once the oven is hot, it is hot. So, and once the cast iron pieces are hot, they are hot. So I can just keep them moving that way.
KAYTE YOUNG: And if you have got them in the fridge, the shaped loaves in the fridge, it is not like they are sitting out over proving?
CANDACE MINSTER: Right. Exactly.
KAYTE YOUNG: As we are talking Candace has been grating fresh ginger from White Violet's garden. She is making a seasonal pumpkin ginger loaf for the farm store.
CANDACE MINSTER: Our pumpkin crop this year was a little limited because there it was just a tricky year for cucurbits in general. I am using a canned pumpkin for this but I get ginger. I like to... purchase from us when I can.
KAYTE YOUNG: I am sure soon you will be growing your own winter wheat. Get a mill going.
CANDACE MINSTER: I do actually have one mill. I do have a green mill. Now you are giving me ideas.
KAYTE YOUNG: It will not be long.
KAYTE YOUNG: I am talking with Candace Minster. Cut flower and fiber arts coordinator at the White Violet Center for Eco Justice in Terra Haute. And the owner of Terra Fleur Bakery. After a quick break we will return to our conversation to learn about how Candace discovered her love for baking sourdough. Stay with us.
KAYTE YOUNG: Kayte Young here. This is Earth Eats.
KAYTE YOUNG: We are back in the commercial kitchen at White Violet Center for Eco Justice at Saint Mary of the Woods Campus in Terra Haute. I am talking with Candace Minster who is baking sourdough bread for her new business, Terra Fleur. So I know that you have been baking and teaching baking for a number of years. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how you got into baking or how you discovered your love for baking. In particular bread I suppose.
CANDACE MINSTER: Sure. It started with just regular bread, like a commercial yeasted bread. And then I was a few years out of college and had a house with a kitchen. So I was like I am going to make bread. And I had tried some when I was in college but I did not really start until I had my own home. After a little while it was like I am going to try this sourdough thing and I found it to be overwhelming. Because I would find like one source that would talk about a sponge and then this one would talk about a soaker. And then this one would talk about a leaven or a fed starter. But then there were so many questions that I had. So what does it mean if a starter is fed for one? Two, what do I do with all of this? So I just keep adding water and flour and then it just is growing. This unwieldy thing.
CANDACE MINSTER: How much does I throw away? What do I keep? What is a sponge? What do all these things mean? And then I would pick up bread books and Peter Reinhart was the first one where I felt like I was really starting to get a grip on it. And realizing oh okay, a poolish, a biga. Basically these things are more or less the same. It is a little pre-ferment. It is going to create more flavor and interest. And you can do it whether it is sourdough or not. And so, I tried my hand at sourdough for a little while and I was okay. You know I was having some decent bread. And then a good friend of mine moved to San Francisco.
CANDACE MINSTER: You know famous for its sourdough bread. And right around the corner was the Tartine Bakery from where she lived, and people line up all the way around the block. So, she had said 'oh you really got to try this bread. We need to go here.' Everybody seems to want to stand in line in San Francisco for things. Then once I had it I got it. It was like 'oh okay, I understand now.' And then the head baker there, Chad Robertson came out with a book and so I bought it. And I would not advocate for someone who has not done baking to pick up that book because it is not user friendly. But because I had had that experience working through Peter Reinhart and some other sources, a wild yeast blog, it is not active anymore but you can still find it on line. And her stuff is incredible. And I felt like all of that was creating a foundation.
CANDACE MINSTER: So then when I picked up this book the whole concept of a 20% dough, so that means that when you have your starter, that you retain 20% of it. You discard 80% of it. And you take that little 20% and then you feed that again. So, what that is doing is training it to get these nice, smooth mild, really interesting sourdough flavors, which as soon as I did it, was like well now this is wonderful. This is what I want. And so, that was kind of the light bulb moment for me too, to realizing, okay, I do not have to maintain this huge quantity of starter and waste all this stuff. So, this is it. This is mine. This has been going for about nine years now.
CANDACE MINSTER: Altogether it is about half a cup total stuff. So, I will stir it. I will discard all but roughly a tablespoon. At this point I just do it but eye and then I feed it with a quarter cup of water and a quarter cup of mixed roughly half and half wholewheat to bread flour. And so that's how I maintain that. And then that will go into the refrigerator if I am not actively baking. Then if I know I am going to bake I will pull it out and I mean it is so active I can pull it out in the morning, feed it once and it is ready to go a couple of hours later.
KAYTE YOUNG: Okay so you kind of found your passion for it by tasting that bread, learning how to do it, discovering that you could make bread that tasted like that.
CANDACE MINSTER: Yes and so then I started to have so much fun with it. And was like this is amazing. And I had taught the odd bread class here and there for White Violet Center. But then after a little while I felt like okay, I got this. And I am eager to share it with others. So, then I started offering a class, usually the third week of February at White Violet. And then after Covid hit, then I did it last year remotely, we did it over Zoom. And folks just signed up in advance and I mailed them their starters because everybody gets a starter handout. Lots of recipes.
KAYTE YOUNG: You really could do a lot more people too?
CANDACE MINSTER: Exactly. So we had folks joining from Texas and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We had, I think, one even went to California. So, that was pretty exciting.
KAYTE YOUNG: And are people having success with their loaves?
CANDACE MINSTER: They are. So, one of my favorite things about teaching the class is that I tell them you know, reach out to me when you have questions, because you will very likely have them. And if you want to send me a picture or say help, I do not know what is going on here, you know let me do that. So, I have continued to be a resource for folks. And the nice part about that is then people will share their success stories. So they will send me a picture and look at this. And that is pretty nice. And I have had folks who have been like they did the class and some times they have done the class more than once.
CANDACE MINSTER: And then they have gone on to I will see them at the market or wherever and they will say 'oh, yes I am still baking.' Or I had one person actually stopped my husband and said that class changed our lives. Now we have such good bread we are making at home all the time. So yes it is really nice.
KAYTE YOUNG: How did you feel when you sold some of your own bread?
CANDACE MINSTER: It was really exciting. Yes it was really exciting. So, I am fortunate to have a very talented good friend who does graphic design. And she made my logo and labels for me. And then I bought the sleeves to put the loaves in and that first day that I put the stickers on the sleeves and had all the bread in the sleeves and in a basket, put it in the farm store and then there were flowers that were for sale too. So, it was like I could see the flowers over here. That is my day job. And then the bread which is my little side gig together. Yes it was really gratifying. It was exciting.
KAYTE YOUNG: Because I know you have been someone who, as your job, been doing a lot of creative work, whether it is growing food, tending these incredible gardens and teaching bread classes. Or making those value added products. Or the fiber work that you do. But, I just imagine that there is something a little different about... even if it is at a part time, small scale at this point, that this is your own business. This is your own effort. I just wondered how that felt different?
CANDACE MINSTER: And also for years actually, since I have been doing the bread class, then people would say do you sell your bread? Do you sell your bread? So, folks had been asking me. And just friends that I had shared loaves with or that have had it before have said 'you should really sell this, you should really sell this.' And I think that I have a tendency I guess, undersell myself. I just feel like oh I do not know that I could ever do that. I do not know. I do not know. Or that seems like that would be so hard to start your own business, especially a food business. But you know I stuck with it and it was definitely out of my comfort zone to do that and to seek out okay legally what do I need to do?
CANDACE MINSTER: What kind of contacting the health department, getting inspected, getting listed with the State of Indiana as a wholesale producer. All those steps were daunting and I definitely second guessed myself along the way. But I stuck it through and so there's a degree a pride that comes with that too. Just that something that would have seemed insurmountable to me or just way out of my comfort zone, you know that I just stuck with it. And it is like look at that, I guess I can do things.
KAYTE YOUNG: So scaling it up a bit from your home baking, how does it feel to you? Are you still enjoying the process? Is it still exciting to you or does it feel like a labor? How is that feeling?
CANDACE MINSTER: No, it still feels exciting. And it still feels exciting and I still bake at home too. So, that was a question. Because my kids really, well everyone in my home really likes my bread. And my daughter refers to it as mommy bread. And I will just improvise when I am at home. I just toss in a little of this grain and a little of this flour and a little of this. So, I do quite a bit of that at my house. But for the sake of doing it here it is like well you know, I am measuring it out and making sure it is consistent. But what is nice is I can still do that playing around and just write it down as I am playing around.
KAYTE YOUNG: Yes, recipe testing.
CANDACE MINSTER: So then that is what I did with this pumpkin for instance. You know I was making some stuff at home and just playing around with that. Brought it in and had co-workers taste it. I think being able to offer some different breads, rather than just that standard country loaf is really gratifying and keeps me from getting bored. But it is never boring because just really enjoy the process. And so yes making things is cool. I like it.
KAYTE YOUNG: I think that is obvious.
KAYTE YOUNG: They are using them at Ferm Fresh for their charcuterie boards but are they also selling loaves?
CANDACE MINSTER: No. So if folks want to purchase a loaf them they come to the farm store. Yes. So it tends to sell pretty fast. Depending on the week, I have it available on Wednesday, we call it fresh bread Wednesday. The store is open from 12 to five during the week. So, whatever does not sell on Wednesday is also available on Thursday. But with this having the seasonal batch, those tend to go the fastest. So there are some folks who will call the farm store and say 'hey, can you hold one for me, I am coming' and we can also do that too.
KAYTE YOUNG: What is your vision for the future of Terre Fleur?
CANDACE MINSTER: Right now it has been fun. And I feel like my capacity is pretty good. I would like to be able to offer some more seasonal breads. So, one of the things we were talking about is to be able to do some pre-ordering. So, like this spiced pumpkin that I have been doing, it is just in the farm store, first come, first serve. In order to try to create and meet some of that capacity, I think pre-ordering will be helpful. So, I think that is in the future in the works through our farm store program. And then MEGAN and Anthony at Ferm Fresh, we have explored the idea of doing smaller bowls that can be like soup in a bread bowl option that they would have. So, also kicking around some like sweet goods too. Because I love to bake all kinds of things. Not just sourdough.
KAYTE YOUNG: I have been speaking with Candace Minster, maker of many things. Most recently artisanal crusty loaves of sourdough bread through her new business, Terre Fleur. Candace is also the cut flower and fiber arts program coordinator at the White Violet Center for Eco Justice at Saint Mary of the Woods Campus in Terra Haute. To learn more about the details of her bread baking process, it might be best to sign up for one of her classes. If she keeps doing them on Zoom, there might be a spot for you. Find links and more at Earth Eats.org.
KAYTE YOUNG: That is it for our show. Thanks for listening. We will see you next time.
RENEE REED The Earth Eats team includes Eoban Binder, Mark Chilla, Abraham Hill, Payton Knobeloch, Josephine McRobbie, Daniella Richardson, Harvest Public Media and me, Renee Reed.
KAYTE YOUNG: Special thanks this week to Megan Gossett, Anthony Gossett and Candace Minster.
RENEE REED: Our theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey. Additional music on the show comes to us from the artists at Universal Productions Music. Earth Eats is produced and edited by Kayte Young and our Executive Producer is John Bailey.