I clicked on the vinegar paper and scrolled down, wow. Vinegar is amazing stuff!
The abstract alone will make you want to start including vinegar on a regular basis:
A variety of natural vinegar products are found in civilizations around the world. A review of research on these fermented products indicates numerous reports of health benefits derived by consumption of vinegar components. Therapeutic effects of vinegar arising from consuming the inherent bioactive components including acetic acid, gallic acid, catechin, ephicatechin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, and ferulic acid cause antioxidative, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antitumor, antiobesity, antihypertensive, and cholesterol-lowering responses. The aims of this article are to discuss vinegar history, production, varieties, acetic acid bacteria, and functional properties of vinegars
The paper lays out a great timeline and early uses of vinegar:
The earliest known use of vinegar dates to more than 10000 y ago (Tan 2005; Johnston and Gaas 2006). Flavored vinegar has been produced and sold as a commercial product for approximately 5000 y. The Babylonians produced and sold vinegars flavored with fruit, honey, and malt until the 6th century. References in the Old Testament and from Hippocrates indicate vinegar was used medicinally to manage wounds. Sung Tse, who is credited with developing the field of forensic medicine in the 10th century in China, used sulfur and vinegar as hand washing agents to prevent infection (Chan and others 1993; Tan 2005). Early U.S. medical practitioners used vinegar to treat many ailments including poison ivy, croup, stomachache, high fever, and edema or “dropsy” as it was known in the 18th century (Tan 2005).
So, I guess we could say that vinegar is "Paleo" if that term still does anything for you, and it is certainly an ancestral food. When you find out how easy it is to make vinegar, you will see that vinegar has probably been with man since the very first Autumn.
Here is a list of the microbes associated with some different types of vinegar. We'll call them 'probiotics':
|Species||Type of vinegar|
|Acetobacter pasteurianus||Cider, red wine, traditional Balsamic and rice|
|Gluconacetobacter europaeus||White wine, red wine, spirit and cider|
|Gluconacetobacter hansenii||Cider and traditional Balsamic|
|Gluconacetobacter xylinus||Cider, white wine, and traditional Balsamic|
I asked Christine how she makes vinegar, and her reply was in terms I can fully relate to! I'll let her explain the process:
Woot! That paper made my brain very happy. Not that I understood it all, but that's part of the fun. I'm weird that way.
Anyway - I'm pretty rough and ready in my kitchen, so here, roughly is how I've made vinegar:
I have one of those nifty hand cranked apple peeler/corer devices. I dry a lot of apples (bought, wild, and homegrown) for winter. Last year I put my peels and cores, roughly chopped (and the browner the better) into industrial sized pickle jars, tossed in some sugar, topped it up with water. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to use tap water with chlorine, but it worked out fine, so I guess they don't over-chlorinate the water in this village..
Anyway, I'd say the jar was a little over half full of peels and cores. Stirred it several times a day. It was covered with cheesecloth & rubber band, then a tea towel. Eventually I kind of forgot about it (that's the rough and ready part). I peeked once in a while and began tasting at about a month (?). It was boozy for a long time, then the blob grew. I let it get to a good size, strained it and in a little while longer hey presto, vinegar.
I've read it takes longer with whole fruit than peels, we'll see. This year I'm using some of last years left over mother to kickstart the process. Sorry I can't give accurate time lines, it's likely dependent on too many variables.
By the way, for years I've been infusing regular ACV with various weeds. Dandelion leaf & root, nettle leaf, comfrey, red clover, burdock root, etc. They're all delicious and apparently you get some of the minerals/medicinals from the herbs this way. The BEST for flavour is pine needle. Tastes like balsamic. Just stuff a jar with the plant material, fill it with vinegar, walk away. Supposed to be ready in 4 - 6 weeks, but I've left the herbs in the jars for over a year with no ill effects. Good for baths, too. - Christine
Yep, that's all. Stuff some apple cores and peels in a pickle jar, cover, and walk away. I'm sure you have a thousand questions, so hopefully Christine will be around for comments.
I plan on giving this a try soon, we have an abundance of rose hips and cranberries this year, I wonder if those will work. The jug I want to use is in 'Beet Kvass Mode' right now, so it will have to wait a couple weeks.
Also from the paper is a flowchart of vinegar production methods. It looks a bit more involved than Christine's methods, and it makes me wonder if the success that Christine has is due in part to a local population of the microbes responsible for turning fruit into wine and then vinegar. My Grandpa used to make elderberry wine and used no yeast, it relied on wild yeast. I tried making wine in this fashion in Alaska and it didn't turn out at all.
So, we'll see. I'll take pictures and chronicle my own vinegar production trials soon. If anyone else tries, let us know how it turns out.
I've also just learned that Christine has her own blog, Falling into Grace, one that is exactly like the blogs I love the most. It's homegrown and from her heart. I've just added it to my blog list. I think we can learn a lot from Wild Cucumber.
Her email, that I quoted above, looks at first like a jumble of rambling thoughts, but hidden in that email are concepts that we are just beginning to understand the importance of...probiotics, prebiotics, and Short-Chain Fatty Acids I hope you all take a look at the vinegar paper and then learn to make your own vinegar just as Christine describes. The 'blob' thing scares me a little, I managed to kill my first batch of water kefir much to the horror of 'The Kefir Kween,' Lauren, but I did learn how to do it and it turned out very good. I even made some homemade cream soda with it. Another blog!
Anyway, thanks Christine for the emails and vinegar inspiration. This is definitely the right time of the year for this.
I'll leave you all with these thoughts from Christine:
Oh also, I make my herbal tinctures in vodka. My dandelion root and burdock root and come to think of it, echinacea all separate into layers, with white stuff in the bottom. Turns out the white stuff is inulin!! I'm pretty much convinced that anyone with access to weeds can skip supplements of pre and pro biotics...
I know, it's ridiculous how we think everything is so complicated when it just plain isn't. Once I got the hang of sauerkraut I got much braver with letting things get smelly on my counter.Words of wisdom.