It’s been a busy spring of projects, and we’re eager to refocus our energy on the Perennial Share. You can read our 80 page research report here to see some of what we’ve been up to. Our new plant is coming along: the floors have been sealed, walls are being finished, and remaining work is all scheduled.
We’re planning out our R&D capacity for future months, and would love to learn what you want us to focus on! I’ll describe current efforts and possibilities first, and then add a poll to vote on what you’d like us to prioritize.
Our new facility is focused on making it easier to expand our CSA and to launch our crackers into grocery stores. We’ll be very focused on just crackers in grocery stores, so our additional product development is only for the CSA. We’d like to develop interesting, compelling foods that you want to eat regularly, and to have a regular introduction of new possibilities.
Winter Camelina Oil: Winter Camelina is an oilseed the U of MN has been breeding. It can be planted in the fall, protect the soil over the winter, and then be harvested early summer. When fields are workable in the spring, another crop can be planted into the camelina, and this second crop takes off after the camelina is harvested. Two crops, one field, and continuous living cover of the soil. It produces a cooking oil with a high smoke point and lots of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
- What we’ve done: We’ve purchased a very small oil press and slightly larger one, produced oil, trialed different filtration systems, and cooked with it in a variety of ways. We’ve shared the oil with a variety of visitors. Some people love it, some people don’t care for it. We need to develop our system for filtering and bottling it, but, more importantly, we need to press oil from a few different crops to make sure the larger amount of seed we have is of a good quality and worthwhile to press. It’s common with new crops to have very different quality from different plots and years, and we don’t have a camelina benchmark to compare to quite yet.
- Sainfoin: A perennial lentil The Land Institute is working on. They’ve done food safety analysis on it, and it appears safe for human consumption. They’re working to create a trademarked name, akin to Kernza®, to thoughtfully steward it into the world. We’re assisting on a shelf life study, and are very eager to get a pallet of it. Once we receive one, it will be very straightforward to include in the CSA.
- Perennial Rice: Another crop The Land Institute is working on. Check out this recent coverage to see the promise and possibility of it. We’ve started the ball rolling to import some from China, and are expecting this to be a many month process. If you have any importing experience, we’d love some help!
- Puffed Kernza: We honed our puffing methods last fall, and feel relatively confident we know how to puff grain. However, our equipment isn’t well set up to catch the puffed grain, run many batches in a row, and operate it inside in a food safe environment. These are all fixable problems, they’ll just take some time and focus. We think puffed Kernza would be great in granola, as a cereal, or in energy bars. We could also puff other interesting crops, like winter barley or hazelnuts.
- Bran Muffin Mix: When we sift flour for our AP blend or crackers, we’re left with bran. We don’t like composting this, and would like to find other uses for it. Bran muffins is one easy starting place.
- Granola: We’d love to make a Kernza, oat, hazelnut, elderberry, apple granola. Open to other flavors!
- Malt Vinegar: After finishing our malting research grant, we know how to malt Kernza and have a lot of malt leftover from testing. We think a malt vinegar would be an interesting and novel product.
- Soy Sauce: We’ve identified an organic soybean source, found wooden barrels to age in, and read enough research to start trialing a Kernza and soybean soy sauce. Once we’ve made this, we’ll need to age it for around 6 months.
- Miso: Miso can be a byproduct of making soy sauce, or can be made directly. We’d really love to make a Kernza hazelnut miso. Similar aging time to soy sauce.
- Sourdough Tortillas: We can make our tortillas better. One way to do this is to increase their shelf life by using sourdough, which contributes lactic acid and slows down mold.
- Granola Bars: We’d like to get to this, and we don’t have the equipment right now to easily make granola bars. If they’re interesting to a lot of members, they could be a priority in our new facility.
- Toasted Sunflower Nut Butter: We toast sunflowers to make our sunflower oil more delicious. This results in extra sunflower seeds, which we think would be delicious as a nut butter. This would be worthwhile development, because Silphium is a perennial sunflower crop in development. We’re working with The Land Institute to identify dehulling methods for silphium, and eventually would love to develop products around it. The more we know about sunflower products, the better we could develop markets for silphium down the road.
- New flavors or shapes of existing products: crackers, mixes, hot cereal, pilaf, pasta.
- Skip development, and thoughtfully source other impactful products: Clearly there are other compelling companies doing interesting things with food. We could dedicate a spot or two each month to featuring other pantry staples we won’t ever develop, like tinned fish, canned tomatoes, or seaweed. We’re trying this out this month with jam from our friends at Little Hill Berry Farm.
- Winter Camelina Oil
- Sainfoin Perennial Lentil
- Perennial Rice
- Puffed Grains
- Bran Muffin Mix
- Malt Vinegar
- Soy Sauce
- Sourdough Tortillas
- Granola Bars
- Nut Butters
- New flavors of existing products
- Non Perennial Pantry products
- Write in option: Please comment below on the post something we didn’t include.