Trends in Food: Lacto-Fermentation

Fermented foods are making a big comeback in modern food culture, and for good reason. Before the invention of refrigeration, fermentation was a method of preserving food to last through difficult times where fresh food was scarce. Today, fermented foods are sought after for their unique flavour and health benefits (fermented foods are probiotic, promoting healthy bacteria grown in the intestinal tract).

‘Lacto-Fermentation’ gets it’s name from the bacteria which does the fermenting: Lactobacillus. This bacteria is found on the surface of all plants, and does an exceptionally good job at transforming carbohydrates in fruit into lactic acid, which is a natural preservative. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles are all examples of the same process. Here at AY, we are currently fermenting some plumbs that were given to us by a local Italian man, who, from time to time, brings us fruits from his home garden. We are fermenting these particular plumbs (pictured) as a test to see what we can do with the final  product, and how we can improve future batches.

Black Raspberry Foraging

For three solid weeks in July, the wild black raspberry plants in20140715_153044 Ontario produce a high volume of berries ripe for the picking. Guelph is no exception, and there are many urban areas that produce a high amount of these delicious fruits. Our designated gardener Cole spotted a patch of black raspberries (also known as black caps) in a south end trail system and went back the next day to harvest some for the kitchen.

If you want to find some yourself, look for lightly wooded areas with heavy bush growth. The premature berries are red and look much like your typical raspberry, but they turn a deep purple/black once they ripen. A dead giveaway, if you are still unsure, is the leaf shape and colour; serrations on the leaf’s edge,
20140715_145818 paired with a nearly white coloured under-leaf, will confirm them as black raspberries. The stems have menacing thorns, so watch out for scratches! You can compare your findings with our black raspberry plant photo on the right.

As with any foraging venture, be sure to harvest responsibly; take only the ripe berries, try not to damage any surrounding plants, and leave some for other foragers.

These berries are delicious as jams or jellies, or as we like them most, fresh off the plant.