Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Kids, Do Try This at Home

You can't quite call them French fries; they're a little slab-like and not quite fluffy.
There's an education to be had here. The potatoes were not a flaky, Russet kind of variety. Almost impossible to find those at the farmers market in these parts.
Also the potatoes were on their last little potato legs, going sort of flabby. Pretty hard to resurrect with a spa treatment of hot grease, but one had hopes.
Finally, if the cuts had been more slender, there's a chance they might have crisped up better in the frying.
Oh, I forgot to tell you about the frying. Cranky used decidedly non-copious amounts of leaf lard (smoke 'em if you got 'em!). This was not deep frying at all. This was skillet fries. And when all the variables line up just right, you will get perfect French fries. I know. I've had some.
But I'm not here to talk about the fries. Well, obviously I am. Um, see that petite pale brown drizzle on the plate at about 5:00?
That's homemade malt vinegar, and it's fantastic.
I've made lots and lots of vinegars, and I love them all, but the malt is the best I've ever come up with, and it's easy as flipping the cap off a bottle of Guinness.
I added a teaspoon or so of some very active vinegar with a huge mother (couldn't get the mother out the neck of the bottle), topped the beer bottle with a loose foil lid (oxygen, good; spores and dust, bad), and left it out, unbothered, for four months, maybe five.
That's a long time to wait (good thing I have a pantry full of homemade vinegars), but it's worth it. The fermentation develops to a very sophisticated state, and minute amounts of evaporation are occurring so the resulting vinegar is a little bit concentrated.
The flavor, though. I have to thank Mr. Guinness for that.
I'm going to start a batch of new batches soon. Christmas is four months away!


cookiecrumb said...


Zoomie said...

Leaf lard is a new term to me - is that vegetable shortening?

For the first time, I'm excited to try making a vinegar - this one sounds really delicious! Can you recommend a good website where I can learn how to get or make "mother?" Thanks!

Zoomie said...

And, sadly, I'm losing my excitement about Obama. I know he has an almost impossible job but I'm sad that he appears to be appeasing those greedy Repugs instead of standing his ground.

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: Oh, no! Leaf lard is the highest quality fat on a pig, from around the kidneys. Superior for pie crusts. It's only recently available to the public. It used to all go to restaurants and bakeries. Try Prather Ranch.

Oh, I hope I haven't created a monster with my mother! I really do think you can buy it. From the people who bring us Bragg's Amino, maybe? Try a hippie store. Good luck, Zoomie, it's so cool you want to try. (Probably even a spoonful of regular, non pasteurized vinegar would do. Non pasteurized meaning high-end arty stuff.) Google Vinegar Mother. amazon has it.

kudzu said...

Your malt vinegar sounds amazing. I can imagine a wood chip would taste fabulous with some of that sprinkled on it.

I have one bottle of red wine vinegar from 1970 with the mother from my Italian father-in-law's stock made with his homemade wine. It is a treasure, and I've used it to start others along the way. He would always empty the last tad from the dinner's wine bottle into whichever brew his wife was using in the kitchen at the time. Ever thrifty -- ever delicious.

Greg said...

Malt vinegar on fries in lard oh my! My taste buds quiver.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: Oh, thank you. I'm really pleased with it.
So, a 1970s vinegar, with mother? What an heirloom. And you still use it. Brava.
PS, I have never made a wine vinegar. Champagne, yes. But the simple fruit juices I've been using... They turn out well, but there's no complexity. So this Guinness rules.

Greg: Then my work here is done. Bwahahaha!

namastenancy said...

I think you can "grow" a "mother" by getting organic or non-pasteurized vinegar, opening the bottle and letting it sit out in the open. I'm not quite sure why it works but I know it does. I made the mistake of throwing away a bottle that had my "mother" in it (I really sound evil, don't I?). I bought a new bottle at Rainbow, left the lid of and within a week or two, started seeing the dark jelly like substance that is the mother. I also think there are websites that can tell you how to do it. I've never made malt vinegar but tarragon, garlic, and chili are part of my pantry.

kudzu said...

A clarification: I don't use the vinegar itself (much too precious), just parts of the mother to start new bottles.

Little Pots & Pans Co. said...

Fries with malt vinegar on them are one of my biggest go-to junk foods. I usually do oven fries to offset the amount carb intake that occurs with them. Sweet potatoes work really well too!

Best tweet from today @Kurt_Vonnegut: True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.


cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: Understood.

Little Pots: So try making your own malt vinegar. I'm already saving up corks for my next batch.
Ohgod, that Vonnegut quote. Only it's worse than just high school. I truly believe there is a genetic Republican brain. And it's evil.

Pink Granite said...

A vinegar mother.
What the heck else in this world have I been totally clueless about???
I guess I thought vinegar came from the vinegar fairy or the vinegar stork.
Off to learn more...
- Lee

P.S. Whenever my Obama enthusiasm wanes I take a look at the Republican whackadoodles with their elitism, code words/dog whistles and I perk right up again.

cookiecrumb said...

Yo, Lee! Yeah, some superior homemade vinegars can happen if you use unpasteurized liquids. Like apple cider, champagne, pomegranate juice.
I got my Obama going pretty good these days. Dog whistles, indeed. Racist haters of women. Almost funny.