Julie O'Brien Tells Us Why to Give a Kraut

Recently we were honored to host a “Dinner with Julie O’Brien of Firefly Kitchens” in our Rochdale Room. The meal featuring this maven of fermentation was the third in our series of evenings with our Washington vendors, which was inspired by feedback that members want an opportunity to meet the people behind their food.

The Central Co-op members who attended came for a variety of reasons, but they all had to do with interest in probiotic foods. Some had no experience with fermentation and were looking for an entry point, others were avid home fermenters looking for recipe ideas, while some wanted to learn more about the health benefits of probiotics. One person admitted that they had been given a fermentation kit five years ago but had never gotten up the nerve to open it! At the end of the evening  everyone was excited about what they had learned – not only about naturally fermented products like Kimchi and Kraut – but also about the easy ways to sneak some pro-biotic goodness and flavorful zing into everyday recipes!

Julie prepared a meal for the attendees that included delightful dishes like tapenade made with Kalamata olives and her Emerald City Kraut, salads featuring her Yin Yang Carrots, and rice noodles with a peanut sauce that included her Firefly Kimchi, served with roasted chicken or marinated tofu from our Deli.

While we all enjoyed the feast, she shared a bit about her personal journey to becoming a maker of fermented foods. After training to be a pilot and then running her own advertising firm, Julie started Firefly Kitchens on a mission to bring the health benefits of probiotic foods to more people. While taking classes in nutrition at Seattle Central College she learned about probiotics and was stunned that she’d never been aware of these powerful foods. She started experimenting with making kraut and started Firefly, which now offers eight delectable varieties of organic, unpasteurized kraut; three ferment-infused, mineral rich salts; and three tonics based in naturally fermented kraut brine.

During the dinner, Julie told us that, according to her research, digestive disorders, food allergies and chronic diseases that are on the rise are strongly connected to disturbances in the gut microbiome, and that eating nonpasteurized fermented foods is important in keeping that microbiome thriving and healthy. After all, your digestive tract contains more than 100 trillion microorganisms and almost 70% of your immune system cells are made and reside in the gut! The benefits of fermented foods she cited included maintaining pH balance to reducing sugar cravings to helping in weight loss.

Even if you missed this delightful evening, you can benefit from Julie’s knowledge. Check out these resources that she has shared in order to spread the gospel of kraut:

Why Give a Kraut

Firefly Recipes and Serving Suggestions

How to Fix Your Gut Bacteria and Lose Weight by Dr. Mark Hyman

Prebiotic and Probiotic Rich Foods

Firefly Digestion tips


12 oz Brie cheese
1/3 cup apricot preserves or jam
1/3 cup diced Ruby Red Kraut
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Place Brie on lined cookie sheet. Spread apricot preserves and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from over and sprinkle diced Ruby Red Kraut top of apricot baked cheese wheel. Serve with crackers or bread.
1 Cup Firefly Kitchens Ruby Red Kraut or
Classic Kraut
1 Cup cranberries
1/2 Cup of sugar
1-2 TBSP minced fresh ginger
1/4 Cup good quality or fresh squeezed orange juice
Cook cranberries, sugar, ginger and OJ over medium heat until the cranberries “pop” and the sauce begins to thicken (~10 minutes). Remove from heat and cool sauce completely. Stir in Ruby Red Kraut and refrigerate until ready to use. Great at room temperature or chilled. 




Date: Wednesday November 21, 2018

Category: Washington Food

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