Who We Are
Our vinegars are made from locally made NL craft beer introduced to a wild mother of bacteria acetobacter. Like sourdough starter for bread, except rather than flour and water left out to let nature take its course, it is oxygenated alcohol that attracts the wild yeast, creates the acetobacter and, when conditions are right, yields a mother mother. Magic.
Wet, seaside climates yield wild yeasts of exceptional quality and it is these very yeasts, captured in our own wild mother from the pristine air of the North Atlantic, that lend our vinegars their unique taste and supreme quality.
Our vinegars are lightly pasteurized after bottling, in order to stabilize the product, further refine it and stop any further fermentation. If you are lucky enough to visit Petty Harbour when we are bottling, you can try some vinegar with the mother and maybe even take some home!
And don’t worry – if you notice something strange floating in a bottle of vinegar, congratulations – you have a bit of wild mother that was resilient enough to survive the pasteurization process! You can even use it to start your own batch of vinegar.
Adding a bit of vinegar while cooking or to season a finished dish is one of the best things you can do to enhance your food. Acid is a key element to give food twang or sharpness. Samin Nosrat in her bestselling book and Netflix series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat said it best:
“Acid brightens food and creates contrast. Most importantly, acid does the absolutely necessary job of balancing flavours, which makes it indispensable to cooking delicious food.”
Petty Harbour, Newfoundland & Labrador
Newfoundland 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.
The town of Petty Harbour ( the anglicized form of the French name “Petite Havre” meaning small harbour) has been a fishing harbour since the 16th century. The fishery is still an important part of the community and the town’s proximity to St. John’s and the East Coast Trail make it a very popular tourist destination in the summer months.
It’s no coincidence that vinegar is such a popular seasoning to use on fish – the bright briney acidity of good vinegar enhance the amazing flavour of all fish (wild-caught, farmed and canned). Here in Petty Harbour, we eat a lot of fish – mackerel, herring, cod, lobster and crab are all staples when they are in season.