Thursday, December 18, 2008

homemade vinegar

yes, yes. as you may know, i have deep and boundless love and respect for microorganisms (you know, the non-pathogenic kind), especially my two very good friends, the decomposers and the fermenters. really though, they're always working on something, making stuff, helping out, and in the end they come up with some of my favorite things... compost, and in turn nutrients and humus, and in turn delicious veggies. pickles and miso and yogurt and, you know, booze. yep, they're good guys to have in your corner, and once you get to know them, they might even be willing to help out with your xmas gifts.

i admittedly make vinegar (and a good handful of other ferments) all year long, but there's something that just feels right about reaching in the back of the cabinet around "holiday time" and pulling out a bunch of jars of stuff you've been making all year, packing it up and giving it to your loved ones. my fam this year opted for secret santa, but since i don't get to see everyone but twice a year, i bring homemade vinegar and jam, and local (to me) olive oil, butter (have i mentioned that i love butter?), and honey from the farmers market. i love food, and i love making food and sharing food, so why not share the love, right?

anyways, making vinegar is super simple, one of the easiest ferments because it's just not that particular. this year i'm giving out red wine and apple cider(ish) vinegar. to make the red wine vinegar, you just put your leftover slugs of red wine in a jar and put a cloth over it so it can breathe but no bugs or dust get in it. then you let it sit. and smell or taste it every now and again. til it's vinegar. yep. that's it. then you pour some out and bottle it, and save a little to add to, which becomes your vinegar "mother". the cider vinegar happens pretty much the same way. this current batch of mine came from apples that my lovely roomie gregory brought home from the lady he works for. i juiced them (rather than pressed them the way cider happens), left the juice in a cloth covered jar, and let it sit. i like to leave the sediment in the cider vinegar, but you can strain it out if it doesn't suit you. and that's it!

save and reuse some pretty jars, make cute labels, and voila! delicious and homemade gifts!