Chia Nasman is from Raseborgs Fermenteri, a safe haven in the forests of Fiskars. She makes delicious varieties of sauerkraut with organic vegetables from local farmers.
1. Why did you decide to make fermented foods at home?
I got really into it living in California, and when I moved back to Finland 4,5 years ago I bumped into this food artisan course and it was really resonating with me. So, then just everything seemed to scream that I should just go for it and make it into a business.
2. Was there a difference, any difference in process, weather, from the US to Finland?
Not really, the inside temperature varies some but stays fairly constant, in the wintertime here the process used to be slower as the temperature in my kitchen often was only 7 degrees waking up. But now I have central heating at the fermenter so it’s all fairly stable. I don’t follow any very strict times or temperatures or didn’t use to at least. I’ve found that it most often turns out pretty amazing anyways and freestyling keeps it interesting.
3. Nowadays, which are the most popular fermented foods in Finland?
Beer! And sauerkraut and yogurt I would say. Rye sourdough bread also, as it is a classic staple in the Finnish diet.
4. Is sauerkraut well consumed by most people? Do people tend to make it at home too?
Yes, some people know how to do it, but it’s not as common as in Estonia or Poland. It’s like baking, it’s not that difficult but people don’t have the time or energy.
5. Are there some fermented foods or drinks people find easier to make at home?
Kombucha making is kind of popular now and sourdough baking is also taking up, I would say.
6. For those more traditional Finnish drinks, like sima and sahti, is it a tradition for summer, or in certain locations?
Sima for sure, everybody makes it for the first of May! Well, almost everybody! Sahti my beer brewer friends make, maybe not so much for special occasions, maybe weddings.
7. And yogurts... Is Viili as consumed as other varieties, like the greek and now the Icelandic, being popular around the world?
Viili is a classic, but other yogurts are much more popular.
8. Why do you think so? Marketing of other brands... or just a matter of taste?
Viili is kind of slimy and stretchy by texture, so maybe that puts some people off. Because in terms of nutritional values, it's very good for people's health. So, yeah, it's the taste and texture… and probably marketing too! Like with everything!
9. I saw that Raseborgs Fermenteri, your brand, produces garlic paste. What are the benefits of fermented garlic, and how to use it in recipes?
Benefits are the ones like garlic in general with added probiotics. We use the paste with everything! Crackers, tacos, pizza, in any meal instead of chopping garlic and cooking it. You just add it to your plate. That way you eat it raw, which is better. My friend thinks it goes especially with any pasta dishes.
10. As now people are talking a lot about immunization, and fermented foods as probiotics have a big effect on your gut, do you think people, from now on, will look to consume more of them?
Definitely a lot of people are aware of gut health and its effects on our physical and mental states. I think that’s a huge reason why people eat fermented foods! It’s definitely on the rise! People are so sick these days that they’ve realized you can’t just eat everything anymore, like when my parents were little, and all food was good.
11. Would you add something that you find interesting to say about fermentation or fermented foods in general?
Well, it’s just endlessly fascinating that by leaving a vegetable for weeks in salt, and basically forgetting about it, it just turns into something even more magnificent and nutritious!
Photo: Raseborgs Fermenteri