Ferment! Day 3

Things don’t always go to plan…

We had some set backs in our DNA sequencing where we weren’t able to isolate as much DNA as we’d have liked from some of our samples. Something to learn from, tighten up the process and take a bit more care. A lot of these chemicals and processes are proprietary and so there is some element of trial and error. 5 samples done, 1 good sample, 45 more to do!

Sean and his colleague Suzanne were busy today working through the next processes to amplify the DNA, to attach specific barcodes to each sample's DNA, count them using a dye and lasers then finally put them through the nanopod to get the data. Tomorrow, if all goes well, we’ll be analysing the data and putting out our first round of insight into the microbial population of ferments.

Global gardens

Julie and James, as well as the rest of the horticultural team, have been supremely lovely in accommodating us and allowed me to take a few bits and bobs from their global gardens. Huge squashes, healthy mouli tops, chillies, coriander, lemongrass, beans…

Our main focus is to show ferments that people can understand and try at home, as well as provide insight into different parts of plants that may otherwise be lost. Tomorrow, I will be prepping carrots, radishes, squash and aubergine into suitable autumn kimchis and at some point (hopefully) work with some of the sweet potato stems and leaves.

When walking through Newlina, it is tempting to eat anything that’s edible, just to see how it tastes. Some plants exude their characteristic flavour throughout their body such as fennels and lovage. Most parts of most plants, even without significant flavour, boast nutrients. Most tops, leaves, flower buds and seed heads are edible. Do make sure though but for the most part, with a little research, there’s nothing stopping you from pickling, braising, drying any of these parts of produce that we are already familiar with.

The finer details

Sophie, our friendly lab tech, was kind enough to take some beautiful pictures of some ferment samples. We’d love a compound microscope to get some bacterial photos, but it is still stunning to see these samples up close. Sometimes you can see the physical changes to the structures. Other times, it does just make you think about it differently and appreciate it differently.

Lactic acid ferments, from left to right: basil, green chilli citrus kosho, red chilli citrus kosho, courgette, dill, wheat bran, chive flower buds, chive seed head