Pat Murray sees unemployment as a health problem. If a person cannot afford good food, that person’s health will suffer. So, the retired physician wanted to produce an artisan food product that eschewed all the normal artisan baggage—something of high quality, but something that was affordable.
“I was interested in the question, ‘Can you make something in Northeast Ohio?’ and food seemed like the answer,” he said.
When an idea to make ketchup didn’t pan out, he called on his daughter, Molly Murray, who had a lot of experience working on small, organic farms and who was getting pretty handy at fermenting food. What they came up with was Wake Robin Foods, a small Cleveland company they now run that sells sauerkraut, kimchi, carrot escabeche, and more. They turned out their first batch of food for sale last March.
“For a lot of people, it’s kind of an unnerving process,” Molly said of fermentation.
Indeed, fermentation is an ongoing, living, microbial, food-preservation process. As such, over time, it changes the flavor of food. It has a lot in common with wine in that the source of the food and the time of year it’s harvested have a tangible effect on flavor. So does how long the food ferments.
“I am not concerned about making sauerkraut taste the same every time,” Molly said. “I am more excited to taste the variations.”
The company’s Ruby Rüben is a blend of beets, apples, turnips, cabbage, juniper berries, and black pepper. It’s a brilliant ruby red color. The carrot escabeche is an alluring orange. “It’s really important to eat colorful foods. To eat a spectrum of colors is to eat a spectrum of nutrients,” Molly said.
Pat accomplished a one-two punch with Wake Robin. The vegetables aren’t just healthy, they provide a ready source of probiotics. Kielbasa and kraut. Hot dogs and mustard. Classic pairings like these exist for a reason. Probiotic foods aid digestion, particularly the digestion of meats. Many fermented foods are traditional condiments.
Wake Robin is spreading their gospel of healthy, affordable eating by distributing their fermented goods at outlets like Nature’s Bin, West Side Market, Mustard Seed Market & Café, Constantino’s and, recently, Heinen’s.
To find out more about Wake Robin’s seasonal products and distribution visit WakeRobinFoods.com.