Tasting Events: A rutabaga and radicchio wonderland

Posted on Wednesday, 8 December 2021 under The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security

We had over 8 tasting events throughout this past fall. We kickstarted them with a fun rutabaga tasting during our Vancouver Island Mobile Seed Cleaner Tour. Gulf island folks from Salt Spring and Pender Island gave their thoughts on Nadmorska, York, Joan, and Alta Sweet rutabaga varieties. We received these rutabaga roots from the CANOVI grower John Pattison at Bright Farms. We used the same varieties to gather more data at a small tasting at our Seed Farm. In this trial as well as others, we found York to be the highest-rated rutabaga variety. Throughout both our rutabaga and radicchio trials we have seen a positive correlation between increased sweetness and ranking of overall flavour.

Our biggest tasting event of the year occurred at Burdock & Co where we had 57 participants rank 5 types of radicchio. As radicchios have varying dates of maturity, we supplemented this event with a couple of radicchio tastings at UBC Farmers Market. A big benefit of growing the CANOVI crops across multiple farms is the ability to supplement our tasting data with participating growers conducting their own tasting trials.

The last couple of tasting events were connected to our BC Seed Gathering conference. Lisa, our Vancouver Island Seed Coordinator set up at Esquimalt Farmers Market and captured data from various rutabaga and radicchio varieties. In Metro Vancouver, we set up take-home tasting kits with raw radicchio and instructions and recipes for cooking rutabaga. We augmented the tasting experience with a Taste and Tell session at our BC Seed Gathering. During this session, Chef Rob Cleland for Legacy Living shared his thoughts, cooking advice, and recipes with us in a couple of cooking demonstration videos and a live Q&A.

Overall, we are very pleased to have shared rutabaga and radicchio with others and to have captured tasting data at the same time. Many folks who tried these crops were surprised at how varieties within the same crop can taste vastly different. Many radicchio lovers were enthused to find out that sweeter forms of radicchio, such as many di Lusia types, are available. Some people were able to try these crops for the first time. We had a couple of brave kids shocked by the bitterness of the radicchio. We are very thankful to UBC Farms for sharing their crops with us and to Solveig Hanson, a postdoctoral research fellow at UBC, for collaborating on these tasting events.