Situated in the middle of the North Atlantic, Newfoundland is the 16th largest island in the world. It was one of the first locations in the New World to be populated by Europeans who were drawn to plentiful seas teaming with fish. Faced with rocky soil and a short growing season, livyers (permanent settlers) learned to preserve what food they had for the long wild winters. They salted and dried fish, bottled seal and moose meat and preserved vegetables which they stored in root cellars.

Vinegar was an important element in their survival. According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, the Newfoundland Vinegar Plant was a “bacterial culture growing in a home-fermented vinegar made from toasted bread, molasses, yeast and water.” For many people in rural Newfoundland commercial vinegar was simply unavailable due to the lack of stores and the isolation of communities. Uses for wild home-made vinegar included pickling, candy-making, desserts and soft drinks. It was used medicinally as well.

Traditionally the plant was passed down through the female line in families — from grandmother to mother to daughter. Wild mothers all, no doubt.


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