About Mastering and Enjoying Home Cooking. Drink, Cook, and Live Well!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Making Homemade Vinegar

Home made vinegar tastes a lot better than store bought perhaps because is not made chemically but allowed to ferment naturally. My sister asked if it was difficult to do. I told her if was easy. You take four left over wine bottles each with a smidgen of left over wine, either white or red. Then you place them outside your house strategically on the four coordinates, north, south, east and west. Stuff a bit of cheesecloth in the necks to keep out bugs and forget them for two weeks while they blow in the breeze. Check them Tuesday afternoon (or anytime you want) by smelling the neck. If they smell sour, the fermentation of the alcohol to vinegar is underway. If your climate is hot, wait until fall when the temperatures are below 85 F during the days. (Mother of vinegar can only tolerate 60 ~ 90F.)

Actually, I lied. Place the bottles anywhere you like. Good to place them where they will not be accidentally kicked over. Once you have captured a starter, you may add any wine to the starter and store the fermenting bottle (crock or glassware) covered with cheesecloth in your cupboard. If you continual add wine white to a starter that was originally red wine, it will eventual pale to white. To keep the starter active, keep it fed.

Vinegar maybe further aged in toasted oak barrels to add more flavor. A typical 2 liter barrel is around $50, while a larger 5 liter may run $80~85. They will need treatment as well as a spigot to pour vinegar and a stand. Follow barrel maker’s instructions to cure the barrel, which is the process that makes the barrel hold content and not leak.

If you want to skip finding vinegar spores, you may purchase Living Mother Culture (MOV) some from a wine equipment store or oak barrel store or even Amazon.com

Monday, August 3, 2015

Kicking Up Bottled Spaghetti Sauce

What most commercial sauces (i.e. canned) lack is a foundation of good tomatoes. Mario Batali is being a definite exception. He uses only the finest San Marzano from Naples. That being said, the sauce is not readily available in many stores nor is it imminent affordable. Bertolli Marinara Sauce is in many stores and is one of my favorites because it is easy to kick it up and the tomatoes are good ones. Fundamentally, the sauce, just as is, is ok. This recipe is easy to do and will transform the store bought in 20 minutes to one with a “fata in casa” (homemade) flavor.

1 jar Bertolli Marinara Sauce 
2 Ounces of salt pork, cubed (discard tough skin)
2 cloves minced garlic
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons flavorful extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed Italian oregano
1 small sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Italian sweet basil

Add olive oil, crushed red pepper and chopped salt pork to a wide frying pan on medium. Cook until salt pork begins to clear but do not brown. Add garlic stirring continuously for a minute. Add a jar of Marinara Sauce and all the herbs. Reduce to low and simmer 10 minutes. Correct the seasoning as required.

A sauce should have a hint of sweetness and hint of tart. A tad of balsamic could augment this if needed. Enjoy.