It’s crunch time for health food pioneer

Ruth Munro, owner of the Edinburgh Fermentarium
Ruth Munro, owner of the Edinburgh Fermentarium
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There’s certainly no place for soggy sprouts in the festive food offering from the Edinburgh Fermentarium.

A long-time advocate for the reported health benefits of fermented vegetables, owner Ruth Munro believes she can win over some new followers with her seasonal specials.

It was after being made 
redundant as a fashion designer – and a session with a 
life coach - that she was persuaded to act on her instincts and open her own business producing kimchi and kraut. 
“When I set up the Fermentarium 18 months ago, I wanted to try and break the taboo of people thinking fermented foods are strange, a bit scary and not very tasty,” says Ruth, who operates from a rented commercial kitchen in Leith.

“The more people I can encourage to try them the better and they will realise they are actually fresh, crunchy and tasty with the unexpected tang that fermentation brings.”

From selling exclusively at local markets, Ruth was soon being approached by some of Edinburgh’s leading health food shops wishing to stock her products.

“I realised that no-one was doing it in Scotland at the time so there was a gap in the market, despite it being huge in countries like Australia where people are more forward-thinking in terms of health foods,” she says. “Now it feels like the business has legs of its own, because it’s become such a growth industry.”

Ruth’s Cracking Kimchi, a British take on the original Korean recipe, recently won a Gold Star in this year’s Great Taste Awards.

She has now created a Christmas version – delicious with turkey – which combines her everyday recipe of Chinese cabbage, carrots, mooli, ginger and chilli with cranberries, cinnamon and cloves. She also offers festive fermented figs, which are perfect with cheese as an alternative to chutney.