Casper Fermentables, which started as a small business selling mustard, pickles and other products at a farmer’s market, celebrated its one-year anniversary of having a brick-and-mortar location in June.

“It’s been really cool to be able to show our customers from the farmers market, where our model is to buy the products and take it away, what we can make with them,” co-owner Ben Hollander said.

The backstory

Hollander began selling fermented products on Sundays in 2016 while working in food service during the week.

Ben, who is Jewish and Korean, grew up learning to cook from his mother, a professional chef. Ben said both sides of his heritage eat many fermented foods, which is where he got his inspiration.

Hollander met Phoebe, and she joined Casper Fermentables in 2020. By then, Ben had begun experimenting with breads and other sourdough recipes. Phoebe and Ben expanded to several farmer’s markets. The couple decided to take the leap on a brick-and-mortar.

The shop opened in Sunset Valley in June 2022. Phoebe and Ben decided to expand the pastry options and add meals, such as sauerkraut bagels.

Currently, they are only operating at one farmer’s market, but hope to expand in the future.

The context

The name Casper is a reference to Casper the Friendly Ghost. Hollander, who studies microbiotics at The University of Texas, said is a reference for unseen nutrients that are healthy, such as good bacteria in kombucha.

“We really like to think of this place, not just as a restaurant, but as a place where people can come and learn something. From fermentation to kombucha to Judaism, we’re happy to be really open and answer questions,” Phoebe said.

Digging deeper

The couple keeps a stack of the books that inspired for diners who want to learn to know more. Those books include:
  • "Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew" by Michael W. Twitty
  • "Eat a Peach" by David Chang
  • "Jerusalem: A Cookbook" by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi
  • "The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World" by Sandor Katz