A FUNgi Time. An Interview with Gnomestead Hollow

We all know what kombucha is. It’s that bubbly, fermented tea goodness that seems to be all the rage for a healthy gut. However, how much do you know about kimchi or sauerkraut? There are a variety of fermented products available that can help aid in digestive support! For the latest information and expertise, we reached out to a very close friend to help explain the complexities and benefits of fermentation:

Gnomestead Hollow has been supplying fermentation products to VJC and have been a loyal partner since 2016. This family based business crafts delicious, nutrient dense krauts and kimchi, as well as producing high-quality medicinal mushrooms. We sat down with Matthew Reiss, the visionary of Gnomestead Hollow, to dig deeper into the story and process behind running a fermentation business. 

As we talked, he shared his favorite VJC item (Avo Vegan toast topped with Gnomestead Hollow’s royal curtido!) because simply put: 

“It is so satisfying any time of day or night!“

1. What Was The Idea That Inspired You To Create Gnomestead Hollow?

“In a gnome cap, I was studying sustainable agriculture at a small liberal arts school in Washington state and created a farm business plan, which I am still implementing and expanding upon today. My passion for working with Kingdoms Fungi and Bacteria stemmed from my experience in my college's farm program. Learning about the microbial universe in and around us has been one of the most fascinating journeys I have undertaken. The hollow has provided for the creation of a beautiful farmscape of abundance, and gnomes are my favorite creatures of lore and themework, so Gnomestead Hollow is, at its gnomadic roots, a marriage of this mythos and the land from which the farm emanates. Working with these ecological allies (bacteria and fungi) in improving human and ecological health has been very fulfilling.” 

2. What’s The Process Behind Making Kimchi & Kraut?

“If you create the optimal conditions for lactobacillus and other beneficial bacteria to thrive, they will certainly emerge! These fermentation microbes are ambient, so creating an anaerobic, acidic environment through the addition of salt allows these bacteria to dominate this fermentation ecosystem, pre digesting food and making a wider spectrum of vitamins, minerals and nutrients available to the human body.”

3. How Do You Harvest The Mushrooms?

“I harvest mushrooms by pulling them from hardwood sawdust blocks, which are their growing medium. I make these blocks using local hardwood sawdust from a nearby timber mill, and water them using a gravity fed spring system which is piped out of the mountain we live on.  Simply, (gently) grab a mushroom or mushroom cluster and lightly apply pressure by pushing against the area where the base of the stipes (stems) meet the block, and they will pop right off in a beautiful array.”

4. Do You Have Any Future Plans For The Business?

“Yes, I am currently involved in two ongoing studies at Virginia Tech, testing the antiviral properties of various species of Oyster (Pleurotus) mushrooms in addition to creating a composite insulation material for the Structural Engineering Department using mushroom mycelium (the vegetative part of the mushroom).”

Jonathan RotenTest