What’s that Blob Preserved Proprietor Elizabeth Vecchiarelli Is Holding?

Get to know such cool kitchen creatures as kombucha SCOBYs and sourdough starters at Preserved workshops

By Rachel Trachten


Elizabeth Vecchiarelli unpacks the mysteries of the kombucha SCOBY at a workshop. (Photo by Felicia Kieselhorst)


Good news is rising along with the sourdough at Preserved, a unique shop in Oakland’s Temescal district that’s been a special haven for fermentation enthusiasts since the store opened in 2016.

“We are so excited to welcome customers back into our space for hands-on, in-person workshops! We miss gathering in community,” says shop owner Elizabeth Vecchiarelli, who offers classes in making jam, kimchi, Japanese pickles, cheese, and kombucha.

Vecchiarelli currently leads the classes herself, but she’s expecting to welcome back guest instructors in the coming months. Upcoming sessions feature kimchi, sourdough, and kombucha, with a maximum of eight students per class. (A rapid Covid test is required in advance of the class, and masks are optional during the session.)

Those who want to learn from home can still enjoy a virtual workshop chosen from the Preserved library of previously recorded sessions. These “rough cuts” are available for viewing at a discounted rate.


Freshly mortared kimchi chile paste is ready to massage into cabbage and root veggies. (Photo by Elizabeth Vecchiarelli)


Lessons Learned

After she had to close Preserved temporarily for in-person shopping in March 2020, Vecchiarelli did a masterful job of reopening gradually with a system for Covid safety. One of the first steps was to shift to virtual classes from her original model of hosting them in the store.

“I did more test classes with my staff than necessary,” she says.

It turned out that some classes weren’t suited to home kitchens because too many specialized tools (like those she has at the store) were needed. On the other hand, online sessions meant that people from far and wide could join in, taking advantage of a fun way to gather with friends or family and learn a new skill together.

Vecchiarelli describes herself as a luddite who originally created her shop for a pleasing in-person shopping experience. She takes great pleasure in sharing her expertise, answering questions, and troubleshooting with customers. However, during the pandemic, she had no choice but to make the store fully functional on her website with curbside pickup available. People suddenly shut in at home discovered interests in her wide variety of DIY supplies and pantry staples like fermentation kits and starter cultures, culinary gear, books, and kitchenware. That suddenly hot demand resulted in new additions to the shop’s shelves with food items like teff flour from Oakland’s Brundo Ethiopian Spice Company and organic corn masa from Richmond-based Alma Semillera.

Currently, the store is open Wednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm and Sundays 11am–5pm for in-store shopping. Online ordering with direct shipping or in-store pickup are also available.

And more good news is coming down the road: Vecchiarelli plans to bring back the Community Food & Culture Swaps and Cookbook Swaps. Stay up to date on scheduled classes here and find out more about Preserved in our Summer 2017 article.


Sourdough Bread Making
Tuesday May 3, 6–8pm
Cost: $110 + $28 (optional) for proofing basket and tea towel

Kombucha Brewing
Tuesday May 10, 6–8pm
Cost: $110

Fermenting Kimchi
Tuesday May 17, 6–8pm
Cost: $110

5032 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
Info and registration: here


This happy sourdough starter is all plump and bubbly and ready to use in bread dough. (Photo by Elizabeth Vecchiarelli)