Our Preservation Methods and Nordic Flavor
Techniques, materials, Nordic flavor.
We make our products to serve three values:  availability;  the Nordic flavor profile; and  shelf life. In practice, this is a marriage of techniques and materials.
Our techniques include the following:  culturing;  curing and drying; ; brining and pickling; and  fermenting. All of these techniques are forms of cooking that don’t require the application of heat. We do apply heat, for example, to get milk up to temp in preparation for culturing, to curdle milk for cheese, or to blanch sausages in preparation for pickling; however, the heating process is not by itself a cooking technique sufficient for achieving preservation, like the sauté, fry, or grill methods are. The grain of knäckebröd is preserved through the application of heat and then left to dry.
Culturing involves encouraging certain bacterial growth in dairy products over a period of days, weeks, months or even years. The result is a tangy, sour, or savoury effect on butter, yogurt, or cheese. Cultured milk products can last for months in the refrigerator.
Curing is the first step taken when preserving any meat product. The meats are then desalted and pickled. If they are pickled long enough at the right temperature, meat products, especially fish, will ferment. Vegetables are pickled and fermented.
Our three guiding values (availability, Nordic flavor, shelf life) all play a role in how we select materials for processing. Since K-bröd is based in LA, our location on the Pacific ocean means that markets are plentiful with both fresh Pacific and Atlantic fish varieties. Furthermore, California is a major agricultural state and supplies its markets with a wide variety of vegetables, meats, and milks.
There are some ingredients, however, that are not locally available but serve the Nordic flavor profile to a significant enough extent to justify importation. To this end we get our lingonberries (and our juniper berries) from Washington state because cranberries don’t provide the sour tang essential for our jam product that lingonberries do. Our main product, knäckebröd, requires flour imported from a mill in Minnesota. We have to use the best coarse rye flour for this product, so Nordic flavor trumps local availability in this respect.
When it comes to shelf life, only certain kinds of preserves provide the sour tang demanded by the Nordic flavor profile. Thus, crispbread, gravlax, cultured butter, Icelandic yogurt, cucumber pickles, and lingonberry jam are all essential components of our product carousel, but fruits that are plentiful and locally available like mangoes and kiwis will probably never make it into a box; we are more likely to add gooseberries, an extremely tart fruit, to our menu than raspberries; the latter simply don’t produce the rich sour tang needed for a Nordic product. Furthermore, while buttery potatoes, gravies, and roasted meats form an integral part of the Nordic diet, their short shelf life precludes them from K-bröd’s culinary mission.
What is the Nordic flavor profile? In The Nordic Cookbook, Magnus Nilsson describes the Nordic flavor as a “taste chord” that finds its simplest expression in “an open sandwich topped with butter and hard cheese… made from fresh ingredients that have been preserved for long-term storage, such as bread, leavened, seasoned butter and dry, hard cheese that has been ideally matured for one or two years” (23). Simply put, the Nordic flavor is tart, tangy, savoury, and sour. These flavors derive from unique culturing and fermentation processes that Nordic peoples have developed over generations.
Take the processing of fermented, salted fish for example: A fish is salted, which inhibits all bacterial growth except for that of lactobacillus, which grow quickly in a brine. As they reproduce, lactic acid is created, lowering the fish’s pH and in this way increasing its shelf life, stabilizing the fish. As the fish is stored for a long period of time, enzymes work to break down the proteins and fats in the meat, making the fish taste savoury. The more protein involved and the longer the fermentation period, the more savoury the fish will become. These fermented fishes smell of hydrogen sulphide and acetic, propionic and butyric acids. The processes of curing, pickling, culturing, and fermenting all take a similar effect on Nordic products to some degree.
Creating preserved goods that have a long shelf life is a core value of our business. Our long-lasting products harmonize to build a Noric flavor profile. We use the best ingredients available.
Welcome to K-bröd!