The telltale sweet-and-sour scent of fermented vegetables is the first thing visitors will register at the new Pat’s Veg store on Sydney Road. Since opening two weeks ago, owner Pat Drapac has been busy sprucing up the store and filling the shelves with fresh organic vegetables from local farmers and books on the benefits of fermentation.
His core range of products – jars of beetroot and purple carrot, cabbage and caraway seed sauerkraut, kim chi, and fennel and leek – are still the staples. But Drapac is working with different, seasonal vegetables and is experimenting with new fermented products.
“We ferment our vegetables for at least four weeks using a wild fermentation method. That means we let existing bacteria on the vegetables ferment instead of using a starter,” Drapac explains. “This means the cultures end up being richer and more diverse, which is better for your gut health.”
Along with the range of tangy cultured condiments, Pat’s Veg also sells a range of cold drinks by fellow fermenters. There are bottles of spiced kombucha tea by CTPOP (also available at Little Big Sugar Salt in Abbotsford) and a range of Feeling Good tibicos, a fermented drink made using kefir grains.
An ex-professional cyclist and former food-science student, it’s easy to see where Drapac’s passion for healthy living comes from.
“We’ve even started a Pat’s Veg cycling team!” he says. “We’ve got a few of the Pat’s Veg team racing in Queensland this month for the National Road Series.”
These days Pat’s Veg can be also found at more and more cafes around Melbourne. Recently Drapac dropped off several jars at Cafe Bü in Carlton North, some of his mildly spiced kimchi at Patbingsoo and a range of flavours at The Merri Table at CERES.
Pat’s Veg will still be making the rounds at farmer’s markets on weekends, including Flemington Farmers Market every Sunday, Woodend Market on the first Saturday of the month and Coburg Farmers Market on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.
105 Sydney Road, Coburg
Tue & Wed 10am–4pm
Thur & Fri 10am–6pm