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Katz Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar
Slow-fermented for the richest flavors. This is a versatile, traditional vinegar made with heritage apples grown in Sebastopol. Fermented in Suisun Valley, California. (more info)
Cider vinegar, with the aroma of apple orchards and a soft acidity, is one of the most popular American vinegars. Katz uses Gravenstein apples, a heritage food praised for its tart, sweet flesh and a complexity accentuated by fermentation. Katz treats these special little apples right with slow fermentation using the Orleans Method, which gives the acidity time to soften and the flavors to develop. Cider vinegar tastes great in a coleslaw or a dish of braised pork chops and leeks.
Gravenstein apples don’t store well, so fresh bites are only available during the season. They do, however make a great hard cider, and fermentation beyond alcohol and into vinegar makes for pleasant, complex flavors, distinct from standard apple cider vinegars.
Besides using a revered apple, Katz vinegar is made slowly, without the tricks and shortcuts of industrial vinegar makers. Pumping air and stirring in additives in giant steel drums is speedy and efficient, but it does sacrifice some of the potential of a good batch of cider.
The Orleans Method is the oldest, slowest and most delicious way to make a vinegar. Alcoholic cider is stored in oak barrels with a bit of vinegar “mother” and holes to let air circulate and the process of fermentation to unfold. The Orleans Method gives the alcohol, acetic and malic acids, and other tasty molecules time to react with each other for a better tasting vinegar.
Katz Vinegar fermenting in barrels.
Use Gravenstein vinegar anywhere you are already using apple cider vinegar: in a brine for chicken, in a marinade for pork or to dress a Waldorf salad.
Apple cider vinegar has also been used as a folk remedy for centuries — for arthritis relief, as a digestion aide or to help in weight loss. The Katzes make up a tonic of a tablespoon apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of warm water and drink it down every afternoon.
Katz Ranch Vinegar House
The national apple of Denmark, the Gravenstein is thought to have been brought across the Bering Strait in the early 1800s by Russian fur traders. The first Gravenstein tree was planted at Fort Ross, Imperial Russia’s imposing trading post on what was then a far-flung patch of coast in Mexican California. For decades, Gravenstein trees covered the Sonoma hills, but in the past years the orchards have been edged out by the regional craze for grape vines.
The company was started by Albert and Kim Katz in Napa, California. As former restaurateurs, the couple know firsthand that good food comes from good ingredients. The company first made their name making olive oils before Albert decided to make use of the grapes in the wine producing region to make vinegars, setting up the first fermentation barrels in his converted stone carriage house.
Vinegar, Kaufmann Mercantile Blog
Interview with an industrial vinegar producer: Le Vinaigre, Á la Carte
“Wine Vinegar — Orleans Method,” Ark of Taste, Slow Food USA
Suisun Valley, California