Selling at Bloomfield Farmer’s Market
Saturdays 9am- 1pm Liberty Ave and Gross Street
The land speaks through the seasons, as a song, as each moment unceasingly flows into the next in a melody that describes the ambiguous, unknowable, wildness of life, as a living thing in this place. Each moment is a note- a metaphor of poetic beauty, that when participated with, in observing, harvesting, sowing, and nourishing one’s self or another, is the simple celebratory act of joining this song.
Terroir is a French term I’m borrowing from the wine aficionados. It is loosely used to describe the “taste of place”- the local environment, the soil, the personal history of the vine itself, and even the processing of the grapes into its final nectar. I invite terroir into all ingredients. It’s a unique obligation, that growers and food makers can choose to undertake, to learn how to step aside and let the land speak clearly of its specific longitude and latitude, its possibility and limitations, its constantly changing, flowing unpredictable self. In this way terroir is an act of harmony.
For the processing of ingredients, this accord is achieved through using nature’s own natural processes of microbial transformation (fermentation) to preserve the year’s harvest. In this way I consider all naturally-processed food, food that is not sterilized, dead, and handed over to us as sadly faint reflections of the life they truly are (as seems to be the norm in today’s world), to be fermented. Terroir is further present in the diverse naturally occurring microbial colonies which are greatly responsible for health and balance of the natural world, and the health and balance within our own bodies. In seeking out living harmoniously with nature, and restoring a healthy relationship with the place with live, we are restoring health to ourselves. Fermentation is the re-welcoming of real food back into our lives.
The project of Ferment Pittsburgh was originally founded upon an exploration of what harmonious living meant in terms of feeding each other in our community. Rather than create a food business and attempt to force local time and place into it, Ferment Pittsburgh is seeking to understand what it means to carve a food business out of the rolling hills and winding rivers of Western Pennsylvania. This effort to collect the threads of harmonious living, to weave back together the basket that holds the year’s song, is a delicious melody with the hope to nourish deeper hungers.
General project rules,
- Create a value-added food business, however treat it as an art project rather than a business, focusing on an exploration of ideas and expression of beauty.
- The project is ultimately ruled and dictated by the geographic region, it’s unique environment, and the unpredictability of its nature.
- Ingredients only come from local sources, grown organically or wild foraged, with a focus on native species and seasonal variability.
- Allow time and place to speak.
- Non-local ingredients, such as salt, must also be accountable to high standards of integrity.
- Adapt appropriated traditions to our region’s potential and limitations to recreate a unique tradition in accord with the region. Example- replacing barley for rice in miso.
- Focus on natural preservation techniques that allow abundance to be carried over to the colder months. This, as opposed to purchasing large quantities of cabbage grown somewhere across the country, to be fermented as sold where the product is a result of demand rather than a fleeting moment.
- Welcome inconsistent and imperfect products as honest expressions of the human touch. All products are made from scratch and by hand. No machinery or modern equipment may participate in production.
- Do not grow the project in ways that would sacrifice the personal connection with its production. Such as- all vegetables will be cut by hand and all labeling will be hand-written. The project can not grow beyond that being possible.
- Explore our terroir.
- Produce and package products specific to a single farm or area where possible.
- Label according to specific variety of the ingredients.
- Produce and label products according to the time they were harvested and made (vintage?).
- Ferment using wild yeast exclusively.
- Produce certain products only during a specific season in order to make it according to its natural climate affinity.
- Sell according to a sliding scale, bartering, and trade.
This is a comprehensive list to track the history of items produced and does not reflect the current inventory.
- Black Garlic- Butter Hill Farm garlic (Allison Park, 10 miles from Pittsburgh). Held at 130 degrees for 40 days.
- Salt Pickled Peach Blossoms- young blossoms, pickled in plum vinegar and dried for tea.
- Salt Pickled Violets- pickled in plum vinegar and dried for tea.
- Apple Cider Vinegar- apples collected in State College. Raw, unfiltered, nothing but apples.
- Plum Vinegar- fruit collected in Lawrenceville. Raw, unfiltered.
- Serviceberry Olives- salt-pickled green serviceberries.
- Fermented Hinklehatz Flakes- crushed and fermented hinklekatz peppers, then strained and dehydrated. Hinklehatz are a Pa Dutch favorite to add to your sauerkraut.
- Spruce Sauerkraut- mid-spring spruce tips add a lemony, coniferous taste to fermented cabbage.
- Winter Solstice Miso- prepared annually on the solstice. Soybean and barley sweet miso.
- Fermented Apple Spice- strained mash from apple cider vinegar, dehydrated slowly, and ground to a powder.
- Milkweed capers- salt-brine fermented milkweed buds.
- Green Peach Olives- under-ripe peaches, salt-brined.
- Fermented Young Whole Black Walnuts
- Cultured Yogurt- grass-fed milk from Pasture Maid Creamery
- Cultured Butter- salted, Bruton’s Dairy cream, innoculated with kefir culture.
- Maple Sap Vinegar- sap collected from trees in Pittsburgh, allowed to ferment, age, and condense naturally to a strong acidity.