Got Kraut?: Beagle Bay Organics
Sauerkraut from Bradenton’s Beagle Bay Organics, that is.
Operated by Keith and Kelly Pratt, Beagle Bay Organics specializes in sauerkraut. And this isn’t your favorite hot dog vendor’s condiment. The kraut made by the Pratts is raw cabbage with Celtic sea salt that’s fermented for four to five weeks. Their product is certified organic.
The idea behind Beagle Bay got started in 2004, when Kelly Pratt was experiencing some digestive problems that prompted her to search for help online. She found out that adding foods like sauerkraut to her diet—in addition to other diet changes, such as avoiding processed foods—could help her feel better. She and her husband, both former zookeepers (yes, zookeepers!), began to make their own sauerkraut.
A farmer here in Florida tried their product. “He said, ‘Make more, and I’ll sell it,’” Kelly Pratt says. That’s what prompted the Pratts to rent space in a tiny kitchen and then, eventually, the warehouse space they use now in East Bradenton. They process their product in 55-gallon drums but each batch is handmade, so there can be subtle taste differences. That adds a homemade taste to the product, the Pratts say.
The sauerkraut is made simply with cabbage— sourced from Gamble Creek Farm in Parrish when in season, otherwise from other parts of Florida, Georgia, or the Carolinas—and Celtic sea salt.
Many customers buy Beagle Bay sauerkraut for the recently touted benefits of fermented foods. Kimchi, some kinds of yogurt, kombucha, and unpasteurized sauerkraut like Beagle Bay’s contain probiotics, or healthy bacteria that helps your gut digest foods better and improve immune health, according to the Health & Nutrition Letter from Tufts University in Boston. Although fermenting food to preserve it began eons ago, fermented foods have received more attention recently for their health powers. In fact, the sauerkraut made by Beagle Bay is considered a “live” food that will continue to ferment and bubble over time. Although most people will enjoy the company’s sauerkraut within a few months, you can keep it longer for a stronger taste. In fact, the Pratts have one customer who likes the tangy taste of sauerkraut that’s fermented for two years.
The company’s tagline is “Live cultured foods for daily health.” Fermented foods are becoming more mainstream, Kelly Pratt says.
The name of the company doesn’t come from an actual place called Beagle Bay but instead from the Pratts’ two beagles (among other pets they have), who seem to enjoy any kraut they can get. The image on Beagle Bay’s jars shows a cute beagle “baying” at the moon, just like any good hound.
You can find Beagle Bay’s products at Whole Foods Markets around Florida as well as some in Georgia. The products are also sold at The Chop Shop in Bradenton, The Island Market in Anna Maria, and Locale Market in St. Petersburg. The Beach- House, MarVista, and Sandbar Restaurants, all operated by Ed Chiles locally, include Beagle Bay sauerkraut in some of their signature dishes. And Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach buys Beagle Bay products, says Keith Pratt.
While Beagle Bay has eager fans, one challenge the Pratts have is overcoming the sour image that some consumers have of sauerkraut. “The word sauerkraut is our biggest hurdle,” he says. The company tackles this head on with the T-shirts that employees wear while working—the shirts say ‘Got kraut?’ The Pratts also will use different but still accurate names for what they make, such as slaw or cultured vegetables. And of course, sometimes it’s just a matter of tasting the product so people can experience firsthand how it’s different.
In addition to its original flavor, other varieties include carrot and dill (a hit with kids, Keith says), caraway, jalapeño, garlic, and kimchi. The kimchi version includes garlic, ginger, onions, and organic red pepper. It’s more Americanized than kimchi made in Korea, but it nevertheless packs a powerful flavor and aromatic punch, the Pratts say.
To expand their product mix, the Pratts will soon also sell beet kvass, a kind of raw juice featuring beets and other flavors.
Looking for a way to enjoy Beagle Bay’s sauerkraut without the hot dogs? The Pratts use it a condiment on eggs or in salads or wraps. You can also include it in sandwiches or try other creative uses. One to two tablespoons a day will deliver their kraut’s probiotic benefits, Kelly says.
► Beagle Bay Organics: 4501 Manatee Ave W #105, Bradenton; beaglebayorganics.com