Because of their balance of sweet and tart flavors, Gravenstein Apples have long been sought after to make the Best Cider Vinegar. A predominate crop in Napa Valley in the ‘40s, most trees were pulled out to make room for grapes. Katz have been growing Gravensteins – named a “Heritage” food by The Slow Food organization – to preserve the variety. Fermented in oak, the natural sweetness of the Gravenstein makes for a balanced tasting fruit.
The Gravenstein Apple has played an important role in the history and culture of California’s western Sonoma Valley since the nineteenth century, with peak planting in 1945 with over 14,000 acres. Unfortunately, there are far fewer today with thousands of acres being replanted with grape vines. Slow Food has declared the Gravenstein Apple to be a “heritage” food to protect it from further encroachment. The fruit is sought after by chefs for its culinary uses, and its elegant balance of sweet and tart flavors. It makes the Best Cider Vinegar!
Suggestions: Blend this Best Cider Vinegar with Ascolano Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a quick salad dressing.
From the Artisan:
Here is where our efforts come in…we take this hard cider made from late ripening Gravenstein Apples when the sugars are high, and then convert it slowly to vinegar in our 55 gallon oak barrels. The result is a pleasant elixir, redolent of baked apples, honey, and sweet spice balanced with a solid backbone of acidity. Executive Chef Kimball Jones from the spectacular Carneros Inn in the Napa Valley sent me a note recently that extolled its virtues this way, “It reminds me of an apple cider vinegar I used to buy in Paris…very fruity but with great acidity.”
Now…as for the doctor part of the story…apple cider vinegar has been a folk remedy used for hundreds of years. Its beneficial claims include: aides in digestion, lowers blood pressure, and helps with weight control.
About KATZ Traditional Orleans Method Vinegars: We have long been fascinated with the idea of marrying the sweetness and complexity of wine grapes that have been left on the vine to concentrate the flavors and natural sugars, with the bright and crisp acidity of traditional Orleans Method wine vinegar. A few years ago, we ventured out to make wine vinegar using the centuries-old Orleans Method perfected over 500 years ago in France. Most vinegar today is produced by a system that takes just hours but removes most of the taste and the nutrients, and the ‘art’ of making this ancient elixir. In contrast, authentic barrel aged vinegar like ours is converted slowly over many months from quality wines and fermented juices with the starter – the ‘mother’ – in oak barrels. This is the way we do it in our 1865 Suisun Valley Vinegar House, and the result is a complex, rich elixir with fine balance and subtle complexity.