Almost everyone has heard of the benefits of apple cider vinegar. So it’s always nice to be able to include such a healthy ingredient in daily cooking.
Most French home cooks use a high-quality, artisan-made apple cider vinegar. It’s often produced in the Normandy region, home to many apple orchards.
For a quick starter or side dish, they mix herbs like tarragon or crushed aniseed with an apple cider vinaigrette to make a simple green salad taste special.
What’s the difference between an artisan-made and a mass-produced vinegar?
Two main differences: the quality of the base product used to make the vinegar and the time required to make it.
All products that contain sugars are used as a basis for vinegar. Red wine, white wine, or apple juice can be used. First, the sugars are converted into alcohol by using yeast. Next, the alcohol is transformed, with the presence of oxygen, to acetic acid by the acetic acid bacterium “Acetobacter.”
An artisan-made apple cider vinegar will use a good quality cider as it’s base whereas a mass-produced vinegar has a low-quality cider as its base.
The Fermentation Process
Vinegar is produced either by a fast or a slow fermentation process.
Large quantity, industrially produced vinegar uses an acetator- a machine that speeds up oxidation through a constant stream of air bubbles. This speeds up the fermentation so that vinegar can be produced quickly in 1 to 3 days.
However, it also causes the vinegar to lose the flavor characteristics of whatever was used to produce it-like a good cider in apple cider vinegar. So it no longer has the innate flavor profile of the source used to make it.
Slow methods are used in traditional vinegar production, where fermentation progresses throughout a few months to a year or longer.
Traditional, slow processes, such as the French “Orleans” method, demand a lengthy aging process in oak barrels, yielding a naturally stable product that doesn’t need preservatives or sulfites. Yaay!
Two French Recipes with Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Leeks with Coconut Milk and Apple Cider Sesame Oil Vinaigrette
• 2 Leeks
• 3 TB of Sesame Seed Oil
• 2 TB of Coconut Milk
• 1 TB of Sesame seeds
• 1 tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
-Cut the leeks in 2 lengthwise and rinse well
-Cook 30 minutes in boiling, salted water
-Mix the sesame oil, sesame seeds, coconut milk, and apple cider vinegar together
-Drain the leeks, place in a serving dish and sprinkle with salt
-Drizzle the vinaigrette over the leeks and serve while still warm
2. Traditional “Poulet au Vinaigre” or Chicken with Apple Cider Vinegar
• 4 Chicken Thighs
• 800g of Potatoes
• 50g of Unsalted Butter
• 20 cl of Liquid Cream
• 2 Medium White Onions
• 1 TB of chopped parsley
• 10 cl of Apple Cider Vinegar
• 1/2 cube of Chicken Bouillon
• 5 cl of White Wine (dry)
• 5 cl of oil (for frying)
• Salt and Pepper to taste
-Peel and chop the onions
-Dilute the chicken bouillon cube in 10 cl of boiling water
-In a frying pan, heat the oil and fry the chicken thighs until golden brown, then remove and set aside
-In the same pan, sauté the onions until tender
-Return the chicken to the pan and add half the vinegar, all of the white wine and the diluted chicken bouillon
-Salt and pepper to taste, cover and let simmer lightly for 20 minutes
-Remove the chicken and keep warm
-Reduce by half the cooking liquid on high heat
-Add the remaining 1/2 of the apple cider vinegar, the cream and whisk in the butter slowly in small pieces one by one.
-Serve with boiled potatoes or rice topped with the chopped parsley
Where to buy High-Quality French Apple Cider Vinegar in the U.S.
An excellent place to start is with one of the last great artisanal vinegar makers in the French “Orleans” style, Martin Pouret. This company has been operated by the same family since the 18th century and is now run by the 6th generation of the Martin family!
You can read more about French vinegar-making here.
You can find an excellent organic Apple Cider Vinegar by Bragg on Amazon.com.
A well-made apple cider vinegar has little to do with the mass-produced vinegar sold in supermarkets. It has more flavor and, as with
It goes very well in vinaigrettes for simple French vegetable recipes and adds a special something to traditional cream-based sauces.
I try to buy a well-made, unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar so that it has full flavor without all the chemicals and preservatives. Add to that the high-quality apples used in producing it, and you’ll realize it’s healthier for you and your family.
And now you: What vinegar do you use? Have you ever tried apple cider vinegar in cooking? Leave a comment and tell me about it!
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com