I never realized there were so many kinds of vinegar before moving to France. Most French families have at least 3 varieties of vinegar in their pantries.
High-quality red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar are must-haves. This is a French secret to making a simple raw vegetable, mixed salad, or sauce taste “restaurant quality”.
My favorite vinegar, and one that I use often, is raspberry vinegar. Paired with good olive oil, it magically spices up any of my green salads to make them taste special.
A good quality artisan-made raspberry vinegar has little to do with the mass-produced vinegar sold in supermarkets. It has more flavor, and its careful production eliminates the need for added sugar, chemical preservatives, or coloring to make it look good. Yaay!
What’s the difference between an artisan-made and a mass-produced vinegar?
There are 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. Wine but also apple juice or fruits 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.”
Vinegar is produced either by a fast or a slow fermentation process.
Fast fermentation process:
Large batch, 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.
But it also causes the vinegar to lose the flavor characteristics of whatever was used to produce it – like wine. So it no longer has the innate flavor profile of the source used to make it.
Slow fermentation process:
Slow methods are used in traditional vinegar production, where fermentation progresses from a few months to a year or longer.
Vinegar made with the traditional “Orleans” method:
Traditional 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 added sulfites.
The final result also carries the full flavor profile of the underlying high-quality base used. It’s a better tasting and healthier product than the quickly made processed version.
Good raspberry vinegar has either a red or a white wine base. The raspberries are then macerated in the base to release their flavor.
Some producers add sugar, but I try to avoid those products by reading the label carefully. My favorite raspberry vinegar in France has no added sugar and is from the artisan Laurent Faure.
Two Raspberry Vinegar Recipes:
Here’s my recipe using raspberry vinegar for a quick, easy and healthy starter to a weeknight dinner :
Raw Mushroom and Parsley Salad with a Raspberry Vinaigrette:
• Slice any mushrooms you like (I use the white or brown “Paris” mushrooms)
• Separate the parsley leaves from the stems
• Either add the parsley leaves whole (like small pieces of salad) to the mushrooms or chop them.
Raspberry Vinaigrette for Two People:
• 1 TB Raspberry vinegar
• 2 TB Olive Oil
• Whisk together olive oil and vinegar
• Salt & Pepper to taste
-Drizzle the vinaigrette over the mushroom/parsley mix and toss
-Serve quickly as the mushrooms tend to absorb the vinaigrette.
Pasta and Lentil Salad with Alfalfa Sprouts and Raspberry Vinaigrette:
• 180g of Lentils
• 100g of Farfalle (bow-tie) shaped pasta – or other short pasta
• 125g of Raspberries (frozen is fine)
• 50 g of Alfalfa Sprouts
• 2 TB of Raspberry Vinegar
• 4 TB of Olive Oil
• Salt & Pepper to taste
-Cook separately the lentils (25 min) in 60cl of water and the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Let both cool
– Mix the lentils, pasta, alfalfa sprouts, raspberries, olive oil, and raspberry vinegar.
-Salt & Pepper to taste
Where to Buy a High-Quality Raspberry Vinegar Online:
An excellent place to start is with Edmond Fallot, one of the last great artisanal mustard makers in France. Mustard makers often make great vinegar, as I explain here.
You can find Edmond Fallot Raspberry Vinegar on Amazon.com
A well-made artisanal raspberry vinegar has little to do with the mass-produced vinegar sold in supermarkets. It has more flavor, and its careful production eliminates the need for added sugar, chemical preservatives and coloring to make it look good.
Add to that the high-quality ingredients used in producing it and you’ll realize it’s healthier for you and your family. You’ll love that its delicious flavor will help you make even a simple salad taste like something off a restaurant’s menu. Plain greens will taste extra-special from now on.
Raspberry vinegar is one of the ingredients on my FREE French Pantry Checklist which you can download on this page.
For a good book on vinegar from a worldwide perspective, see my post on French artisanal vinegar.
Would you like to create a traditional French dinner for your friends and family?
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Photos courtesy of Unsplash
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