Sunday, January 30, 2011

Part 2: Vinegar from local fruits

Vinegar for Home Use from Fruits

You can put up a vinegar generator in your kitchen and you will have a continuous supply of natural vinegar. Protect yourself and your family from glacial acetic vinegar. Convert those surplus fruits that would otherwise go to waste. You can also produce vinegar for your friends and community.

I am simplifying the procedure as a practical guide in vinegar making for the rural as well as the urban areas.

1. Clean two wide-mouthed, gallon size glass containers. (Ordinary glass gallons will do. Do not use plastic containers.)

2. Peel and clean around two kilos of overripe fruit of any kind (pineapple, chico, banana, etc. You may combine two fruits, like chico and guava, or pineapple and mango. (Do not use kamias. Kamias contains oxalic acid which weakens the bones.)

3. Mash the fruit with two kilos of sugar. Be sure the sugar is well imbedded into the tissues of the fruit pulp. Divide the substrate equally for the two glass jars

4. Add tap water to four-fifth of the container. Shake or stir.

5. Add one tablespoonful of commercial yeast (baker’s yeast) onto each jar, then stir.

6. Cover the setup with sinamay or kulambo textile. The reason for this is to allow air to enter, while letting the fermenting gas C02 to escape. Do not plug or seal. Pressure builds up and is likely to break the container.

7. Do not be bothered when you see Drosoplila flies hovering around because they are attracted to the fermenting odor. They carry with them beneficial fermenters. Just allow them to settle near and around the setup. Their presence hastens acetification. What must be avoided are houseflies and other vermin. To do this, design a nylon screen frame, which is good to cover four gallons. Be sure only the Drosophila flies can pass through.

8. During the first two to five hours, froth will rise. Stir to calm the substrate. Stir once daily for the first week. Allow the setup to stand for three to four weeks until the solids have settled at the bottom. Keep it in a shaded corner of the house or kitchen.

9. Decant the filtrate and transfer to another gallon or large bottles. Plug with cotton to allow air circulation. This is the ageing phase. The longer you keep it this way, the better the quality becomes. This takes around two to three months. There will be sediments that form at the bottom. Nata (nata de coco) may also grow at the surface of the liquid. This is proof of natural vinegar.

10. This is the time for you to harvest your vinegar. Use a small siphon to decant and leave the nata and sediments behind. Cap the bottles airtight. Expose them to direct sunlight for at least three hours. The color of your product is now golden to reddish from above, or crystal clear against the light. Label with a trademark of your choice. Write the following information. Fruit used; place and dates of fermentation; ageing and bottling. And of course, your name.

Entrepreneurial Prospect

Vinegar making can be made into a lucrative enterprise due to its authenticity as natural vinegar. Many brands bear the name natural but are actually overnight formulations of diluted glacial acetic acid, no different from the acetic acid used for industrial purposes like in photography and in textiles manufacturing.

People are becoming more and more health conscious making them very judicious in their choices of health-enhancing food and food preparations. This is your best selling point. People are willing to pay a premium of a guaranteed natural product.

On the aspect of manufacturing, experience has it that vinegar making alone does not maximize business opportunity and benefits. The two steps – fermentation and oxidation – can be treated as two separate processes, hence two lines of products can be developed in one enterprise. In fact, a third step is nata de coco production, which immediately follows vinegar production. This is shown by this formula.

CH3COOH  Nata de Coco (coco jelly)/Nata de Pina
Leuconostoc mesenteroides

The experience of making nata de coco developed in the second half of the 1990s when nata was in great demand for export, principally to Japan.The product is used as food and also for industrial raw material. Local demand as sweetened gel remains high in spite of the abrupt decline of the Japanese market.

Here is the business concept for holistic and integrated, hence, viable operations:

1. If you are a small sugarcane farmer, have a control over the making of red (raw) sugar. Native or brown sugar not being refined is natural food. There is a big demand for this kind of sugar where the molasses have not been separated.

2. Ferment table wine (Basi in the Ilocos region) from sugarcane. There is a big demand of this native wine by Ilocano balikbayans. Similarly with fruits, there is now a trend to take table wine either for health purposes, in lieu of liquor. The fruit industry may look into this field of endeavor. It offers definitely a value-added advantage to fruit growers, and there are thousands of families that grow fruit trees at the backyard.

3. Make vinegar out of the inferior cane, specially during a poor crop year.
Typhoon and drought damaged cane can be salvaged into previous natural wine. Fruits in season, and fruits that cannot pass for the market can be made into fruit vinegar. This is advantageous to orchard growers and contractors.

4. Nata de coco can be made out of the local vinegar products with local sugar as raw materials. Nata in many colors and flavors is an innovation of the traditional product. A progressive idea proved that nata can be made into laminate as substitute to leather, sheepskin and material for bags and belt. The biological laboratory of St. Paul College QC has made preliminary products.

Vin egar is wine gone sour. It may not be man’s elixir, but it bridges an intricate process of nature, benefiting man with other products of great importance.

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