Vinegar. To many its something you buy in a plastic bottle at the grocery store, but, there is so much more to the topic than that. Around the world, people make all different kinds of vinegar, and, it is universally used to preserve food and to improve health. Spin the globe, stop it with your finger, and you will find a country with its own unique vinegar.
There are two types of vinegar, Acetobacter Vinegar and Gluconobacter Vinegar
The first is one produced by an organism called Acetobacter. This organism converts alcohol into acetic acid, or vinegar. The word itself comes from the French, Vin Agre, or sour wine. The most common vinegar is produced by Acetobacter, and in all likelihood, it is the only one you have tasted. It is responsible for apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and so on. Start with alcohol, end up with vinegar.
The second is produced by Gluconobacter. This organism converts glucose into acetic acid. This is the organism responsible for the production of Balsamic vinegar. In this case, people boil down grape juice until it becomes a rich thick syrup. This syrup is infected with the gluconobacter organism, and slowly, over time, the bug converts the sugar syrup into real balsamic vinegar. It is a slow growing organism and making balsamic vinegar takes time.
If you are saying, oh, I love balsamic vinegar. Not so fast. I doubt you have ever tried it. In America, "balsamic vinegar" is made by mixing red wine vinegar(made with acetobacter) and grape juice concentrate. Real balsamic vinegar costs about $100 for 4 ounces. If you did not pay that kind of money, you did not buy real balsamic. You bought the American fake version of Balsamic vinegar.
At the farm, we produce real balsamic vinegar using the traditional method. We boil down fruit juice to a thick syrup, and then introduce the gluconobacter. What is different is that we make balsamic with apple juice, grape juice, and mixed juice from the orchard. (Thats a nice way of saying whatever we have in the orchard, we juice, and make balsamic.) In Italy, it is only made with grape juice.
Unpasteurized vinegar, whether its produced by Acetobacter, or Gluconobacter is a probiotic. Its filled with living healthy bacteria that help keep your digestive tract healthy, just like yoghurt or kamboucha.
Our balsamics are super healthy because they act as probiotics. But, more than that, it takes four gallons of juice to make one gallon of syrup. So, you get all the goodness and nutrition from all that fruit juice, plus a big dose of healthy bacteria.
The entire ginger family, which includes ginger, galanga, and turmeric, have a certain heat to them. Its not the same as red pepper heat, but, it is still quite warming. Virtually all members of the ginger family are medicinal, and cardamons are no exception. In traditional medicine, they are used to warm the body, or fire it up. I have done a lot of work this group of plants, and wanted to make a simple spicy cider with one of them, which is what you will find here. The taste is sensational. Seriously, if you drizzle it over ice cream or add it to a glass of carbonated water, you will be astonished at how delicious this spice is!
Apple Balsamic is made with fresh apple cider. It takes four gallons of apple cider to make one gallon of apple balsamic vinegar. We are talking about a whole lot of apples!
We take this thick apple cider syrup, and add some starter culture, and over the course of a year, the starter culture converts the glucose in the syrup, into acetic acid, or vinegar. But, the organism involved, Gluconobacter, does not consume all the sugars. Fructose and Sucrose, is left alone, and the end result is a sweet and sour vinegar.
Its well known that apple cider vinegar(ACV) is excellent for your health, and it has become very popular. My only problem with it is that it tastes like puke and is a nightmare to use. I try to "get used" to the flavor and never could. My mouth always rejected it. It works best if you use it daily, but, that is a hard task to accomplish. Considering how vile it is.
So, I decided to make an apple cider vinegar that had all the health benefits of ACV but none of the disgusting taste. I began to think about the balsamics of Europe, which are not only delicious, but fantastic. I found out how they make their balsamic, and made one out of Apple Cider. Voila. A apple cider vinegar that is both healthy and delicious and won't make you through up.
Mithridates Fire Cider
Mayan Fire Cider
When the Spanish rolled into the New World on their rape and pillage campaign, they discovered the Mayans and their very sophisticated food and medical culture. They found the indigenous people had all kinds of new and fantastic "spices" that were used both for food and medicine. And, some of these "discoveries" remain super popular items today. One of the classic Mayan remedies was a combination of chocolate, vanilla, and red pepper. It was used to increase health in the young, the old, and the ill. I always like the combination because it tastes great and it has a whole load of health benefits. SO….. I decided to make a Mayan Fire Cider Vinegar. This stuff is TOTALLY delicious, and it does what fire cider vinegar is meant to do, get the circulation moving, but, it has the added benefit of being so tasty you will happily eat it by the spoonful. I will add that it makes the best marinade for chicken! Its equally delicious drizzled over ice cream of a simple white cheese. This one you must try.
Apple Cider Balsamic
Fire Cider Vinegar
Spicy, hot vinegars have been folk cures since the beginning of time. People take vinegar and add health stimulating herbs and spices to them, and presto, they have a "tonic". In most cases, the vinegar is hot and the goal is for it to make you hot, most usually to warm you up to kill off a cold or a cough. Though fire cider vinegar is nothing new, it is having a resurgence of popularity. And, I must say, We have tasted some NASTY NASTY fire cider vinegars. Jammed with hot peppers, garlic, mustard, and horseradish, this stuff would be best used to remove paint. I have felt that fire cider was not being done properly and so I created three that are both highly effective, and, tasty. Emphasis on tasty. This business about suffering for your health goes right over my head. Fire Cider Vinegar is a wonderful health tool, but, there is no reason for it to be an assault on your mouth. Below find my tasty versions of Fire Cider Vinegar
Sometime after I started making balsamic vinegar I got involved with producing Kamboucha, which is another organism all together. In fact, its a colony of yeast and acetobacter that live together in unison. This "community of organisms" will also take sugar and produce vinegar. More specifically, I was working with kamboucha community that lives on honey(Jun). Over time, the "Jun" moved itself into my balsamic drums, and, our balsamic is now produced by both Gluconobacter and a Jun organism(Yeast + Acetobacter.) So, when you use our balsamic, you are getting quite a dose of healthy bacteria. And most importantly, it is delicious!
Oh, I guess I left out one important detail. Probiotics have been getting a lot of press lately, and more and more people understand the importance of having healthy bacteria living in their digestive tract. Folks are using yoghurt, kefir, kamboucha, fermented vegetables, to increase their digestive health. And, these two doctors really believe in the power of these probiotic foods. Live vinegar, is another great source of healthy bacteria for the digestive tract. When you use live vinegar, you are getting more bang for your buck. You get the vinegar you want for a salad or a marinade, but, you also get a blast of healthy bacteria.
And just so you know, there are all kinds of "cures" built upon the use of vinegar. But, we will write an article about that at a later time. For now just now, live vinegar is good for you, and it should be tasty.
We have about 8 acres planted with fruit trees, bushes, and vines, and most years there is a whole lot of extra fruit. The question becomes, what do you do with all that fruit? Many people have suggested we make wine, but, my feeling is that the French have that covered. Why make bad wine when you can buy good French wine at the grocery. So we nixed the idea of making bad wine.
However, the apple balsamic has been such a success, we decided to make another balsamic vinegar using mixed fruit from the orchard. This vintage is 2010 and it has pears, plums, and grapes in the mix. This years Orchard Balsamic Vinegar will be made out of whatever we have in over abundance in the Orchard.
But, the process for this balsamic vinegar is the same. The fruit is juiced, boiled down by 75%, and then inoculated with the balsamic organism. It takes a year for the organism to produce vinegar, and then we have yet another balsamic!
Just like with the Apple Balsamic, you get all the goodness in the fruit, plus the added probiotic effect. And, its delicious. This vinegar is a little lighter than than the apple, and has a very complex flavor owing to the complex mix of fruit that goes into it.
In traditional European medicine, there is something called Mithridates Treacle, which is essentially a fire cider vinegar made with Old World spices like white pepper, black pepper, ginger, mustard, etc. The story goes as follows. There was a king, called Mithridate, who was obsessed with getting sick and or poisoned. He commissioned his physicians to formulate a cure all, that would protect him from infectious disease as well as assassination attempts.
Though most of us are unlikely to be poisoned by siblings or wives, we do get a healthy dose of poison in our air and water. And, we are surrounded by infectious disease that nobody wants to get. So, for all kinds of weird reasons, Mithridate's Treacle could be of some use to the modern person.
As is always the case, I think medicinal should also be tasty, so I used the basic Mithridate's Treacle formula, and created one tasty fiery vinegar. Unlike the Mayan formula, this one is made hot by black pepper and ginger, which is a different kind of heat. But, it is nonetheless stimulating to the circulation, and therefore can be called a fire cider!