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Vinegar unleashed

Posted by Michael Phillips 
Vinegar unleashed
February 17, 2020 04:21AM
I was introducing David Buchanan of Porterfield Cider to "my mother" this afternoon down in our farmhouse cellar. Not your ordinary mother mind but a hefting steaming heap of mind-blowing acetobacter that convert alcohol to acetic acid . . . and voila, now we have kickass cider vinegar. All community orchardists should be on top of this. More than that be savvy -- tell your customers how to jumpstart health advantages by introducing them to the tradition of fire cider. And thus an offered title on our Network Bookshelf by that very name offering recipes and lore aplenty. They say you cannot lead a horse to water and make him drink. Meanwhile, here's a marketing nugget awaiting apple growers ready to promote the tonic of the ages.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/17/2020 04:38AM by Michael Phillips.
Re: Vinegar unleashed
February 17, 2020 04:27PM
A comment and an observation: It is wise to physically separate one's cidery from one's acetery, (at least if one wishes to continue the production of cider.) Of more interest to me is the observation that the source cultivar of apple makes a dramatic difference in the taste of the finished vinegar. Three years ago I made vinegar from a mix of different cultivars, (basically an excess of early season cider varieties). It was outstanding, quite different from any commercial product, (or, when I went exploring, from anything in the health food store.) So when my stock was running out I inoculated a batch of cider made with Swayzie Russet apples, with the mother from my first batch. The taste of this vinegar is dramatically different - at first taste much more "appley", followed by the acidic bite of the acetic acid, while the original batch was much more highly flavoured and tangy from the first contact. Change in my mother over time? More other acids in the first batch? Other aromatics? (Note that the first batch was made of cider varieties, while the second consisted of russets, with a very different flavour profile. But the difference in taste of the two vinegars is much more striking than the difference in taste between the original ciders.)

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: Vinegar unleashed
February 17, 2020 06:47PM
Wholly agree and applaud the addition of cider vinegar - and fire cider!- to any community orchard's offerings. My observations at farmer's markets and specialty shops is that folks will snap up whatever you have to offer and for an excellent price.

However I've run into regulatory hurdles when trying to figure this out. After inquiring, our DATCP here in Madison told me I needed to speak with the feds at the TTB. The regulation DATCP highlighted was that our farm needed to become a "bonded wine cellar" to sell vinegar on-site. OK, fine, but after reading and re-reading the TTB's lengthy rules, I was unable to figure out how much this would cost or what that process entailed. Emails and phone calls to them went unanswered. So I gave up.

Anyone else have advice on this? For what it's worth, DATCP gave another orchard in the area conflicting information about this so who knows what the actual rules are. Happy to supply links/quotes of the rules they quoted to me if folks are interested.

Door Creek Orchard
Zone 5a in Wisconsin
Re: Vinegar unleashed
February 18, 2020 05:19PM
My advice, Liz, is never ever ask bureaucrats one damn thing. Yes. Apple juice needs to ferment to make alcohol which the acetobacter then turns to acetic acid. It's just wrong that guv'mint has to put a 'holier than thou' grasp on this natural process. Lie low, pay the sales tax if your state has such, and join the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

I have not advanced in my study of vinegar made from different cultivars, David. Mostly I use juice from early season apples and the tang of the resulting vinegar has always been delightful. There's a southern apple called 'Horse' said to be specific for vinegar-making but I have yet to encounter this heirloom let alone taste its juice.

I hope many of you check out Fire Cider (use our bookshelf index to go directly to this book) as a means of getting your customers excited about the healing properties of vinegar! You'll even find a contribution from a certain apple grower you know.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/18/2020 05:38PM by Michael Phillips.
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