PARK SLOPE — A new club designed to coax home fermenters out of their kitchens to share their bacterially-fueled concoctions has sprung up at a South Slope bar.
Aspiring kimchee entrepreneur Tony Limuaco launched the Kings County Fermentation Group with a simple guiding principle in mind.
"It's a conversation about fermentation over libation," he said.
At the debut meeting in February, the group huddled over bowls of miso in the back room at Freddy's bar while the rest of the crowd shouted at the TV, which was showing the Academy Awards.
Since then Limuaco has started a website, Facebook page and mailing list for the growing group, which now meets monthly at Freddy's to trade tips about fermentation, the chemical process that creates yogurt, wine, sauerkraut, and dozens of other probiotic-rich foods and beverages.
Some home fermenters toil in relative isolation over cultures in Mason jars, and the club is designed to help fellow fermenters find each other. Limuaco recently discovered that a friend he thought subsisted on pizza also makes his own kombucha, while another pal has been a sourdough bread baker for years.
"People are like closet fermenters," Limuaco said. "Everyone seems to be doing this in a back room. I'd like people to bring it out in the open and share."
Some of the group's meetings have a show-and-tell component where members bring in successes or failures to sample. The group has tasted pineapple brandy created by one member and homemade miso by another.
Making your own fermented foods at home has grown in popularity in recent years as do-it-yourself types have embraced the challenge as part science project, part gastronomic adventure, Limuaco said.
Limuaco grew up eating kimchee on Guam, and started making his own several years ago when he developed an allergy to fish sauce, a traditional ingredient in the pickled cabbage dish.
Now he's writing a Kickstarter-funded kimchee e-cookbook, and he's in the process of starting his own kimchee business.
He says he and other people who work mostly on computers find special satisfaction in home fermenting, and his club has attracted several members from high-tech fields. Among them is Limuaco himself, a graphic designer who created the label for Victory Brewing's Hop Devil IPA.
"Everything I do is virtual," Limuaco said. "Whereas with [fermenting], you're making a real thing...It's a true craft that you work on, and then in the end you get to eat it, which is nice. You can't eat a beer label."
The next meeting of the Kings County Fermentation Group is on July 28 at 7 p.m. at Freddy's, 627 Fifth Ave.