By Lilian Schaer
Vineland – Flowers don’t usually spring to mind when Ontarians think of locally grown food, but that could soon be changing.
Professional chefs have been using them for years and now researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) have teamed up with Freeman Herbs of Beamsville to look into what consumers prefer when it comes to edible flowers.
“Edible flowers are used primarily as a garnish, mostly commonly in salads, but also in ravioli, sushi or baked goods,” says Dr. Alexandra Grygorczyk, consumer insights research scientist at Vineland. “There are different flower-eating traditions in different cultures, but it is becoming more mainstream as the foodie culture becomes more popular.”
Grygorczyk led consumer preference research into edible garden plants like strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries several years ago that also included options for edible flowers. More than a third of respondents indicated they would prefer buying edible flowers for their garden over more traditional plants like strawberries and raspberries. Continue reading
By Tiffany Mayer
Michael Brownbridge has great respect for the lowly lawn.
For starters, grass has remarkable survival skills. During droughts, those brown blades that look dead have simply gone dormant until the next generous rainfall returns them to resplendent green.
Lawns kick out moisture on hot days which cools urban environments. They also act like sponges that hold moisture after heavy rains and release it slowly to benefit trees and other plants growing nearby.
Then there are all the pollutants grass traps.
“It’s one of the most phenomenal plants on the planet,” Brownbridge said. Continue reading
What’s in a cider?
By Lisa McLean
Vineland – Ontario consumers are thirsty for more hard apple cider, and the province’s apple sector is poised to deliver. But first, researchers are profiling consumer preference to be sure the industry serves up cider that hits the spot.
The project developed in response to research needs identified in the 2016 Cider Research and Innovation Strategy is a partnership with the Ontario Craft Cider Association and the Ontario Apple Growers. The strategy aims to see seven million litres of Ontario craft cider come to market by 2020.
“Our work is about developing a better understanding of who the cider consumer is, and the sensory, flavour and taste profiles they’re looking for in a cider,” says Amy Bowen, Research Director, Consumer Insights at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland).
Bowen used Vineland’s trained sensory panel to develop a lexicon of 22 sensory attributes to describe taste, aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and colour of hard apple ciders. The same panel then applied those attributes to 50 cider brands currently available to consumers through the LCBO and Ontario cideries. Continue reading
Wine grape trials show promising early results
By Lisa McLean
Vineland, Ontario – When Dr. Helen K. Fisher retired as viticulture research scientist at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland), there were a few loose ends to tie up.
Namely, what to do with her research on advanced wine grape selections for cold climate wine growing regions.
“Breeding work for wine grapes is a very slow process,” says Fisher. “Not only are you trying to find a plant that fits a climate, but it also needs to fit into a wine profile wineries are looking for.” Continue reading
By Lilian Schaer
Vineland ON – Five new tender fruit varieties currently being tested at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) are showing promise and getting closer to becoming available on the marketplace.
The Tender Fruit Evaluation Committee (TFEC), which started in 2012 and includes growers, tree nurseries, fruit marketers and retailers, has selected two peach and two apricot varieties along with one yellow plum variety as showing the most potential from among approximately 30 selections that are part of a five year new variety development program.
Since 2014, more than 2,000 peach, nectarine, pear, plum and apricot trees have been planted at 18 commercial grower sites across Ontario. The trees come from the University of Guelph and the former Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada breeding programs through license agreements with Vineland.
“We are seeing some interesting varieties. From on-site testing at commercial grower orchards, we have found that they’ve survived the climate, and the fruit quality is good, so we’re looking to advance those in coming years,” explains Michael Kauzlaric, Technology Scout and Grower Outreach at Vineland. “We’ve been planting trees every year since 2014 and we’re hoping to get some more evaluations in 2018 to further cement the idea that these varieties have merit.” Continue reading