A couple of weeks ago we introduced our Lead Artisanal Culinologist, Loritta Lin—but as great as Loritta is, even she can’t keep up with the rapid pace of development at Acid League alone. Today, we shine the spotlight on another key member of our product development team, Daisy Ball.
Like Loritta, and many other Acid Leaguers, Daisy is a graduate of the food science program at the University of Guelph. She’s also a certified beer judge, the best homebrewer we know, and the creator of our new Living Tonics!
Read on to learn more about Daisy’s love of all things sour, from beer to candy, and beyond.
Were you always into food?
My dad is a chef and instilled a love and appreciation for food and cooking in me and my siblings from a very young age. But as ashamed as I am to admit it, I was kind of a picky eater growing up. I liked plain things and could easily be put off by foods that I wasn’t familiar with. I famously ate a container of sour cream for dinner once.
It wasn’t until I think I was around 11 or 12, that I went to dinner at Kitchen Galerie in Montreal with my family and my embarrassed parents asked the chef if he could make me chicken strips and fries. He politely said no, but then came up to me and basically said, “I’m going to make you your own meal, please at least try everything.” I agreed and that night I ended up eating veal, foie gras mousse, and many other things I had always been too scared to try. And at the end, he did make me some french fries.
How did that experience change your approach to food?
After that dinner, I became a lot more interested and willing to try new foods. After enough traveling and food experiences that made me realize there’s more to life than chicken fingers and french fries, I was actually planning on going to chef school. Then I discovered the food science program at the University of Guelph. I liked food and science separately, so figured it was the perfect program for me!
What was your favorite part of the food science program?
After taking industrial microbiology in my third year and learning about the brewing process, I reached out to the professor who ran the brew lab and asked if I could somehow learn to make beer. He said that I could shadow some grad students the next weekend and from then on I was hooked. I learned everything I could about homebrewing and beer, became a certified beer judge, and even started teaching homebrewing courses with that prof in my last year of school!
How did you end up joining Acid League?
Funny story actually, when I ran homebrewing courses at the University of Guelph pilot plant I would always see these jars of vinegar fermenting away and wondered what the heck was going on. There were some crazy flavors at that point. I eventually learned that some recent grads (aka Cole and Allan, two of Acid League’s founders) were starting a company and making vinegars. Months later, I shot Allan a message because I was seeing a lot of people posting about Acid League and wanted to express my interest—the rest is history.
What’s your focus at Acid League?
Officially, my title is Product Developer but in efforts to have a title as cool as Loritta’s, we brainstormed a few other options. Vinegar Experimentation Technician, Liquid Technician, the list goes on… Yeah, none of them stuck.
I work mainly on the development of retail condiments, as well as Living Tonics and a new line of hot sauces and vinegars coming soon (ed note: stay tuned!). I also work on many other projects related to quality control and supply chain.
How do you approach the product development process?
As cheesy as it sounds, I try to have fun with it and approach development with a really open mind. Typically I’ll draw from brewing experience, cool processes I’ve researched, and personal food experiences as a starting point. During the early stages of development, it’s so important to play around with different ingredients or try different flavor profiles and processing techniques. Then you can start to refine your product to create something unique—and most importantly, delicious. It’s exciting to work for a company that really encourages experimentation.
You work for Acid League, so what do you find appealing about acidity?
Pretty much every food that I love is acidic in some way. Favorite candy? Sour Patch Kids. Favorite beer? Anything funky and sour. I love anything pickled. I love vinegar dipping sauces. I perpetually add lemon to my water. You get the idea—I’m a big fan of sour stuff. I think what I love most about acid is the sensation of sour foods and beverages, the way acid transforms food, making it almost addictive.
If you love acid, what’s better than drinking vinegar? How did you go about developing ones that actually taste good?
It’s hard to find a health shot or apple cider vinegar drink that doesn’t make me wince due to harshness from an overly sweet, medicinal, or acidic perspective. For Living Tonics, I knew that while I wanted it to have the benefits of ACV as well as other health-focused ingredients like Chaga, Mānuka honey, and sea buckthorn berries, it was imperative that we didn’t compromise balance and the flavor profile of the beverage. Ultimately, I wanted to make something that people would wake up and look forward to drinking as part of their routine, rather than it seeming like a chore.
What’s your favorite Acid League product you haven’t worked on?
It’s gotta be the Coconut Nam Prik from the Umami Kit. Shoutout to Loritta! It’s insane. Sweet, umami, spice, texture, fat. My mind was blown when I tried it.