Each year I make a small amount of vinegar from wild and organically grown apples. The entire process of fermentation and aging takes 1-2 years. Some blends age even longer. All batches are fermented and aged in oak barrels and glass demijohns. Available at:
Mehurons- Waistfield, VT
Mad River Taste Place- Waitsfield, VT
Kenyons- Waitsfield, VT
VonTrapps Farmstead- Waitsfield, VT
Paradise Provisions- Warren, VT
- made from wild foraged apples and 100% unsprayed organically managed trees.
- no glyphosate or any chemicals used in the orchard
- no additives or chemical processing aids used in production
- all fermentation and aging in oak and glass, no plastic
- no filtration, fining or pasteurization
This is a living product and will evolve with further aging. It is fermented on my own house strain of acetobacter bacteria that I have been curating for over 8 years now. The result is a robust vinegar with strong flavor and aroma and an acidity between 4-5%.
Most batches fall brilliantly clear after fermentation. You may find small bits of cellulose mother or some sedimentation in each bottle, but in general, as the vinegar ages, they become naturally clear. I use no filtration or fining.
The difference between small farm vinegars and large mass produced vinegars
I use a technique called the french orleans process, or 'surface fermentation'. Fresh hard cider is inoculated with a living cider vinegar (mother) and exposed to open air where it can ferment. Plenty of small farm producers use this method. The mother can take the form of a physical cellulose mass that has naturally grown (similar to a kombucha scoby), or it could simply be some actively fermenting vinegar. Either way, this method is essentially relying on wild acetobacter bacteria and likely will have a succession of different bacteria throughout fermentation. Each new batch of fresh hard cider will also bring in its own nutrients and bacteria that could influence the fermentation complexities. The results are generally complex and evolving. Similar to wild fermented natural ciders and wines, the flavors and aromas may be mind blowing to some, but a turn-off to others. And there is almost always variability from batch to batch and year to year.
Most large scale operations rely on an acetobacter fermenter of some kind. A single strain of acetobacter bacteria is introduced to the fresh hard cider through rapid oxidation and a vinegar can be made in a matter of hours, or a few days. The results can be very predictable and clean, but perhaps more one dimensional.