My fascination with harvesting wild yeast started with reading up on Bootleg Biology's ambitious goal to catalog a "Yeast from Every Zip Code". After perusing this and the notably authoritative Milk the Funk Wiki, I was filled with a desire to try my hand at sours using "wild caught" yeast. While planning for my trip to Quetico this August it dawned on me that I will be in a unique position of collecting cultures from one of the most untapped (cue audible groan) places on the planet.
Quetico (Quebec Timber Company) is a Canadian Provincial Park with over 2,000 lakes forming a continuous chain that divides southern Ontario and northern Minnesota. Affectionately known as the "Boundary Waters" stateside, this area is completely devoid of civilization and can only be navigated via non-motorized craft (i.e. canoes and kayaks). These lakes carve out small pieces of freshwater heaven into what would otherwise be an unbroken mass of evergreen forest, only separated by narrow strips of land called portages. Entry to the park is strictly regulated through a permit system, put simply you may go full days without seeing another human being. I jump at the chance to "unplug" and trips like these are my nirvana moment, my siesta and my goat yoga.
From further reading I learned that Lactobacillus and Pediococcus are especially fond of fruit skins. As identified in Harvesting Wild Yeast, flowers may provide an additional source for wild yeast. On previous trips to Quetico I have located strawberries and blueberries in the wild that may have held viable cultures. In the picture below (from 2014) my cousin Kayla holds up a bounty of wild blueberries. This yielded undeniably the most delicious breakfast of the trip in the form of blueberry pancakes. Yum!
Through some combination of fruits and flowers I hope to wrangle some yeast from the Canadian wilderness. Will I be successful in my "yeast fishing" expedition? Will Quetico yeast revolutionize fermentation (à la Kveik) and shake up the homebrew world? Or will I come home with LOTS of mosquito bites and nothing to show for my efforts? Tune in for my next installment The Quest for Quetico Yeast (Method) to continue the journey.