Monday, November 5, 2012

Spoiled Rotten

I had made vinegar once before while working in a great restaurant in Fresno, CA. After a vintners dinner at the restaurant my wine rep gifted me with all the opened bottles and quite a few corked. I had so much wine that I ended up trying my hand at making vinegar.

Years later I became inspired to begin pickling, fermenting and preserving foods again. I am interested in sharing with you the story of how Shadow Creek became Spoiled Rotten.
Starting a Nectarine Vinegar, August 2012.

In the late spring of 2012 Cherie and I decided on doing two things during the summer. Get married and put more effort into beginning our business ideas on Etsy. A year earlier I had become preoccupied with making jams and pickling vegetables from the great abundance found at our local farmers markets. This interest in preserving led me to a desire to ferment again.

As Cherie began to build her Etsy shop and selection of vintage finds and handmade design elements we noticed how many people were selling jams, vinegars and other food items. This gave me an outlet for all of the would be surplus edible products we would indeed end up with due to my compulsive nature to make 100 when anyone else would settle for 10.

The only variety of vinegar I had made before was red wine but upon researching possibilities for the ingredients I enjoy and can readily find I had a whole slough of ideas to ferment. As with all of my edible creations I do my best to use fresh seasonal, local and organic ingredients when possible. The trick for me was to decide on which vinegar to start with and how to afford it on my budget.

Maple was the first vinegar I wanted to create. I had seen it sold on Etsy by other artisans and had read about it before which stirred a huge amount of curiosity in me. I had never tasted it before and rarely heard it mentioned making this concoction a little mysterious to me. Exciting!

So to start my little industry I needed to collect the equipment; ingredients to ferment and vessels to ferment in. With my limited budget and most of my funds decidedly going into the best ingredients I can find I would have to find glass fermenting elements for cheap. A thrift store had a 2.5 gallon hurricane for only two dollars and with this find being my only good find I ended up buying more 2.5 gallon jars from a department store.
For the maple vinegar I bought grade A organic Maple Syrup, top shelf Dark Rum and raw organic Red Wine Vinegar (since I had none of my own creation to use). I mixed my ingredients for the maple vinegar, secured the hurricane opening with a bandanna to keep the critters out and hid my concoction in a dark nook to ferment. Now it was times turn to do the work and so I would have to wait.
Mother-O-Molasses at two months.
But I am never satisfied with one project or following a recipe I did not change into my own and so with the leftover rum and red wine vinegar I grabbed my families stash of molasses out of the kitchen pantry and decided to make a molasses vinegar.

Two weeks later I started a pear fermentation. Then an apple from our own tree. Then a nectarine along with more apple. Finally a red wine and a chile. I am making the chile vinegar for my father in-law Bill, who is a capsaicin aficionado and master of guacamole.

To date I have bottled the maple (9, 375ml. btls) and molasses (5, 375ml. btls) vinegars. The pear, apple and nectarine are all sealed snug and aging while the others are still changing.

Spoiled Rotten Maple, Batch #1 2012: A mild acidity and  residual sweetness married with toasted apple wood blend in this vinegar.

Spoiled Rotten Blackstrap, Batch #1 2012: Smooth acidity mellowed by warm mineral depth eludes to an American Balsamic.
Bottling Blackstrap.
Mother-O-Molasses at four months.

Root Vegetable Glaze
yields enough glaze for 4 side servings of vegetables

1/3 Cup maple vinegar
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons oil of choice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 small clove garlic minced
Fresh herbs: sage, thyme, rosemary choppped
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Butter should be at room temp or melted. Mix all ingredients together.
Root Vegetables: Parsnip, yam, sweets, potatoes, carrots, get it. Any vegetable or combination of will do.
Clean and prepare vegetables for roasting. Mix root vegetables with glaze mixture. Roast in a very hot oven (400-450) stirring if needed until edges are browned and vegetables tender.

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