Fermentation is something we, as bakers, know a thing or two about. Yet we’ll never cease to be amazed by the transformative processes that bring simple ingredients to life (quite literally). Our friends at Eaten Alive share our love for fermentation, but their passion for fermented foods lies in pickles.
The frontiers of food fermentation
We’re taking salt and vegetables and creating more than the sum of their parts.
– Pat Bingley, Co-founder, Eaten Alive.
Obsessed with flavour and guided by tradition, Pat and Glyn, founders of Eaten Alive, spent two decades working at some of the country’s best restaurants and food brands. Then, as Pat puts it, “we accidentally opened a factory”, having discovered they were really rather good at fermenting vegetables. Their focus now is purely on the craft of fermentation, creating fermented foods and fillings worthy of fine dining.
They take fresh vegetables, add a little salt and then leave them to ferment at a cool temperature until the starches and sugars turn into a natural pickling acid. Unlike food preserved in vinegar, which is often overpowering, this natural process allows the vegetable’s true flavour to shine, creating ferments that are complex and multilayered.
The transformation is remarkable. Cabbages become kimchi: rich, pungent and refreshing; or kraut: just as punchy, but extra crunchy; whilst carrots, chillies and cucumbers morph into pickles and hot sauces, each one alive with flavour.
The natural food fermentation process also has the added benefit of creating probiotics; live, friendly bacteria that can help keep your digestive system healthy. Delicious and good for you. This is culinary alchemy at its best. Listen to Pat and Glyn’s story on Our Producer Page.
Feeding your gut
“The most delicious foods, the ones people really obsess about, most of them have been fermented at some stage. It deepens and complexifies the flavours. All we do is take 100% natural vegetables and some sea salt, combine the two things, and we get something incredibly delicious. But they’re not only more tasty than the original material, they have this incredible bonus of being good for you as well.” says Pat.
The importance of good gut health is becoming ever more widely researched and renowned. Studies have found links between gut health and the immune system, mental health and a myriad of diseases. But how do we promote the health of our gut? Jordan Haworth, gut specialist at The Functional Clinic explains, “it is now understood that the key to gut health is a diverse microbiome. And people who eat a diet high in fermented foods, including yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha, have a greater diversity of microbes within their gut.”
Fillings with feeling – fermented foods at GAIL’s
Pat and Glyn have been influencing our sandwiches since 2019. Together we share a love of good food and a commitment to making it better for everyone. “We are driven by flavour, that’s why we got into this. We’re obsessed with food. We focus purely on the pickles, to lift GAIL’s sandwiches.” explains Glyn.
Flavour and character that can only be delivered through the long development of fermentation, find Eaten Alive’s fermented foods bringing GAIL’s sandwiches to life at your local bakery and online now.
Smoked salmon bagel
For anyone who thinks that the marriage of smoked salmon and cream cheese can’t be bettered, we encourage you to try it with Eaten Alive’s pink pickled onion. Beyond lending a pop of colour, they bring a life-affirming zing to the mix.
An Everything bagel rolled in a mix of dried onion, sea salt, sesame and poppy seeds, for a complex, savoury taste and satisfying crunch. Filled with thinly-sliced deli pastrami, bread and butter pickles from Eaten Alive and mustard mayonnaise. A firm lunchtime favourite. Bread and butter pickles, in case you were wondering, are American-style pickled cucumbers that are sweet and sour, with dill, celery seed, and a punch of mustard amongst the herbs and aromatics. In other words, a deliciously versatile pickle.
Sweet potato and lentil burger
Punchy, crunchy, and packed with beneficial bacteria, Eaten Alive’s tangy lemon kraut complements our sweet potato, shiitake, cauliflower and lentil patty perfectly. The recipe for which has been refined and refreshed for the New Year.
SAVOUR A SANDWICH
Click & Collect: Reserve the full range of sandwiches made with Eaten Alive’s ferments ahead of time online, ready to collect and crunch on at your convenience.
In Bakery: You can also simply pop into your local bakery to pick up a lunch powered by pickles.
At Home: Our Reuby toastie is a homage to the classic Rueben sandwich and heroes Eaten Alive’s famous ferments. Roll up your sleeves and tuck into the no-longer-secret Reuby toastie recipe now. That’s lunch, sorted.