You’ve likely heard of fruit, vegetable, and even meat CSAs. But a CSA for fermented food and drink? That’s a little more funky.
Enter Juice Box Ferments, a fermentation-centric company founded by Brassica Kitchen + Cafe’s beverage director/partner Noah Todoroff and executive chef/partner Jeremy Kean. In September, the duo began offering special-edition bottles of fermented beverages sold through the Jamaica Plain restaurant, gaining a small but steady following. On Wednesday, Juice Box Ferments introduced a monthly CSA-style box of fermented food and fruit wines, many of which use local and foraged fruits, herbs, and homemade wild yeast.
“It’s been sort of a dream of [Jeremy’s] and mine to do this fermentation company together for the past four years or so,” Todoroff told Boston.com. “COVID kind of just brought it out of us as something we should start pursuing.”
While Kean and Todoroff are keeping most details about what’s inside January’s box a surprise, Kean said customers can expect a variety of goods like a fermented plum cherry and rosemary wine, black apple butter, hazelnut miso butter, or a loaf of sourdough bread from a local baker — things that “we’re really passionate about that are ready at that time,” said Kean.
Brassica’s move toward zero waste and an emphasis on foraged ingredients have helped to fuel this fermentation project, with Todoroff frequently asking Kean whether he had leftover kitchen scraps that could then be fermented.
“A lot of the stuff that he started producing was incredible, and we found ourselves needing these byproducts more than we needed the original products that they came from,” Kean recalled.
Todoroff said he approaches fermented drinks the way he does Brassica’s cocktails, building a well-balanced beverage that undergoes frequent experimentation. While making Blue Glou, one of the first drinks to come out of Juice Box Ferments, he spontaneously fermented blueberries that had been hanging out in Brassica’s fridge for far too long.
“I fermented those with strawberries and tasted that, and then just took it to a cocktail brain,” Todoroff explained. “What flavors would I normally do with these if I was building a blueberry/strawberry cocktail? There was basil growing outside, so we steeped it with a little basil, tasted it from there, and then really wanted to bring that basil a little forward. So we made a yeast starter out of basil.”
Todoroff then added lavender to cut down on the sharpness, resulting in a drink that he now counts as one of his favorites.
“The reception has been awesome,” Todoroff said. “We’ve sold out within a few days of every single release. We’re lucky to have a neighborhood in Jamaica Plain that really is very trusting of us at this point, and they’ve been so cool and so good in their feedback.”
The monthly CSA box from Juice Box Ferments isn’t as exclusive. There will be 50 boxes available in January, with more to come in the following months, along with the potential for local delivery. January boxes are $100 each, with the option to add on a handmade fermentation crock from Jeremy Ogusky, a local potter and founder of Boston Ferments and the Boston Fermentation Festival.
Those who purchase a box can pick up their haul at Brassica on Jan. 21 from noon to 9 p.m.; after January’s boxes are gone, Kean and Todoroff will release details about February’s box.
The goal, Todoroff said, is to make fermentation easy and approachable.
“We’re kind of labeling ourselves as a pretense-free entry into the fermentation world,” he said.
Sign up here to learn more about Juice Box Ferments’s monthly CSA boxes.
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