Unscripted Fermentation is the funky passion project of Trent Brown. It all started when Trent was looking to make his own sauerkraut to save money and quickly found himself drawn to the endless possibilities of fermentation.
“I just started wondering: what if I put this, this and that together and put it through a ferment? What would happen? Which is what I’m still doing,” he explained to Region.
Different flavour combinations of sauerkraut led him to experiment with fermented hot sauce and he quickly found himself with more than he could handle. So Trent started gifting, swapping and sharing his creations with friends which led him to a collaboration project with Dan Zivkovich, the owner of Barrio cafe in Braddon.
“The collab stuff has been really fun because we use a lot of leftover stuff from the cafe. Barrio makes their own soda shrubs, so I can take the leftover pulp from that and turn it into a hot sauce.”
Trent works out of a shared commercial kitchen facility in Fyshwick where he can store, process and bottle his creations. He has a few staples, including one he calls ‘The Mother’, a continuous ferment of chillies that acts as a base ingredient in several of his other products, like a Worcestershire sauce-inspired condiment called The Brine. It’s also the key flavour of the Mother Hot Sauce, which Trent recommends people “pour over everything”.
Sustainability is a big part of the business, which seeks to waste as little as possible. Trent and Dan source ‘seconds’ from local producers to save money and use up fruit and vegetables that might otherwise go to waste. Fermenting brine is repurposed to make pickles. Cabbage cores from sauerkraut are fermented with celery tops from Barrio and mustard seeds to create The Mustard One, a bold yellow sauce with a kick of mustardy heat and a vinegar tang.
Another recent collaboration with Barrio used the ends of Three Mills Rye bread leftover from the cafe, which they toasted and combined with dried fruit, spices and coffee to make a fruit cake-inspired relish that’s perfect for a cheese board.
Trent explains that every batch of relish, sauce or condiment will change depending on what ingredients are in season and how the fermentation process alters the flavours. He describes his ‘Capricious Condiments’ as “wildly different batch to batch”.
“These condiments change regularly, based on what produce is readily available.”
Trent tends towards naming his products in a way that manages to be funny but also bluntly descriptive. Like ‘Not Hot – Just Sauce’, a mushroom-based, chilli-free ferment with ketchup vibes. The Barrio collaborations are a little more romantic with their labelling – perhaps Dan’s influence – with names like Paradise Lost and Havana Knights. Paradise Lost is a spicy, fruity sauce made with roasted strawberries and habanero chillies.
It’s one of the hottest sauces they’ve made, but Trent explained that he usually tries to keep the spice levels approachable.
“For me, flavour is always first. I do like chilli … [but] I’m still keeping most stuff in the medium range. Sometimes some of it goes into the hot, but it’s never hot enough to ruin someone’s day.”
Trent still has a day job in the public service, but he admits he is occasionally prone to daydreaming about his ferments.
“I have a book with me for my ideas that I write throughout the day. And yes, I do quite often find myself running through ‘what’s at the markets? What’s cheap?'”
You can find Unscripted Fermentation at the Capital Region Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from 7:30 am to 11:30 am at Exhibition Park, Mitchell, next to the Bellerophon Coffee stall. The Barrio and Unscripted Fermentation collaborations are available in-store or online from Barrio. Follow Unscripted Fermentation on Instagram to keep up to date with plans for an online shop.