by Laura Steiger, Outreach Team
Pangea Ferments sources a majority of its ingredients from local organic farms in Whatcom and Skagit counties to make its five varieties of fermented products: sauerkraut, curtido sauerkraut, kimchi, garlic dill sauerkraut, and three seed sauerkraut.
Photos by Matt Curtis.
Pangea Ferments' savory fermented products, handcrafted in Bellingham, add zing to any meal—breakfast to dinner.
The Pangea Origin Story
If Braeden Kaemingk had more opportunity for international travel, he said his fascination of fermented food would absolutely drive his travel plans. But when he first lived in Japan, fermented food wasn’t really on his radar.
After graduating from Western Washington University, Braeden put his education degree to use teaching in Arizona and Alaska, and then teaching English in Japan. “Living abroad was phenomenal. I learned more about myself personally than I have from any other life experience,” he said. After completing his initial short-term teaching contract, he knew he’d return.
his kitchen was crowded with jars of various fermented veggies, and the seeds of Pangea Ferments were sown
In 2009, he moved back and lived in Japan for four more years teaching English primarily to junior high school students. While there, he pursued his love of gardening in his spare time. He rented small plots of land to which he hauled buckets of water on his bicycle. Most gardeners and farmers in Japan are generally from older generations, and Braeden’s Japanese neighbors found it somewhat comical to see this young American transporting sloshing buckets of water on his bike.
During these years, he met and eventually married Chika. In 2012, the couple relocated to the U.S. and lived for a few years in the high desert country in Oregon where he began brewing kombucha, pondered opening a tea business, and started dabbling in fermenting food. He was soon feeling called back to Bellingham and in 2014 returned to the Pacific Northwest.
Back to Bellingham
Braeden continued his teaching career and in his spare time he gardened. Ultimately, his kitchen was crowded with jars of various fermented veggies, and the seeds of Pangea Ferments were sown.
With lots of help from family, the business launched in October 2015 with three products: traditional sauerkraut, three seeds sauerkraut, and kimchi. Initially sold by only a handful of Whatcom County grocers, in 2017 the Pangea Ferments Bellingham Farmers Market booth opened and the business has continued to expand.
"There are so many great local farms I can’t possibly list all of them."
Pangea Ferments sources a majority of its ingredients from local organic farms in Whatcom and Skagit counties. “There are so many great local farms I can’t possibly list all of them. It’s what our business has really been based around and has kept us moving forward,” said Braeden.
Most Pangea products are cabbage based and during the fall cabbage harvest the work is “fast and furious.” As farmers arrive with freshly harvested veggies, they are processed and batch fermented. The fermentation time is about three weeks for kimchi and four to five weeks for krauts. Then, the fermented krauts and kimchi are jarred and finished in a walk-in cooler.
Making Garlic Dill Sauerkraut
Braeden shares the initial steps to prepare Pangea Ferments Garlic Dill Sauerkraut for fermentation. Pangea receives organic produce direct from local farmers whenever possible and then the slicing, dicing, and mixing begins.
Fresh cabbages are unpacked, cut, and run through a shredder that eliminates a lot of hand cutting and produces a consistent size of shredded vegetables. Fluffy fronds of dill weed are unpacked and finely diced by hand then mixed with the shredded cabbage, plenty of freshly blended garlic, and sea salt. After the ingredients are combined, they are fermented in small batches (four to five weeks for cabbage-based krauts) before being jarred, labeled, and stored in a walk-in cooler to finish the fermentation process before they are delivered to the Co-op.
A Fun Fact!
A fun fact about Pangea Ferments products, they basically have an unlimited lifespan even after opening. Of course, every jar is labeled with a “best by” date, during which the flavor profile is at its peak. But Braeden reports that his products “will hold indefinitely after opening … I just dipped into 2015 kimchi last week.”
they basically have an unlimited lifespan
Also Popular with Kids
The Kaemingks tend to eat Asian-inspired dishes at home and use a lot of kimchi. Bibimbap is a family favorite. Find some of the family's favorite recipes on their blog.
Despite the opinion of some skeptical parents, fermented foods are popular with kids! The couple’s children—Seren, age 4, and Caylum, age 2—love the garlic dill sauerkraut or “the green one” as they call it.
Braeden’s favorite time at the farmers market is sharing samples with kids, “Some are having their first taste, and some already love it!”
Braeden feels “privileged to be part of this community. Ninety percent of our business is right here in Whatcom County. While our family has grown, our circle of other business friends and advocates has grown exponentially. If I have any takeaway from my experience, I’d say to surround yourself with uplifting inspired people, nourishing real food, and see the positive impact it can have on your life.”
Braeden’s Favorite Food Pairings
Kimchi—grilled sandwiches, salads, spring rolls, rice noodle dishes, avocado toast
Kraut—more savory sandwiches, salads, steamed veggies
Curtido—tacos and pupusas