"Cariboo" Apple Cider Vinegar is raw, has never been heated or filtered and contains the Mother of Vinegar. We use the basics of the traditional Orleans Method to slowly handcraft our vinegar.
Our vinegar making process begins with cultivation of our apples. This is not an easy climate in which to grow the "perfect" apple, but we have a use for them all. At Fraserbench Farm, most of our apples are pressed for juice which is either frozen for sale or made into apple cider vinegar.
For vinegar, a portion of this juice is first fermented over a month-long period into hard apple cider much as grape juice is fermented into wine. The sugar in the fruit is converted into alcohol by special yeast. This hard cider is then stored for use in vinegar making.
In the next step, hard cider is added to ceramic crocks which are used to hold the culturing vinegar. This is a continuous process in which the hard cider is inoculated with Mother of Vinegar, a bacterium named Acetobacter. Slowly, the alcohol in the cider is converted into acetic acid, the tangy part of vinegar. A thick mat created by the Acetobacter floats on the top where it can obtain oxygen from the air. Continual testing indicates when most of the alcohol has been used. At this point, half of the vinegar in the crock is transferred into an oak barrel for the completion of vinegar formation. The crock is then recharged with hard cider and the process continues.
During its ageing process in oak barrels, the vinegar matures into a wonderfully mellow, tangy amber liquid. Testing continues. Once the acetic acid content reaches over 4%, the vinegar can be bottled. The Mother of Vinegar continues to live in the bottle and may appear as a cloudy, wispy substance but can be broken up by shaking or left in the bottle by carefully pouring the liquid out leaving the Mother behind. Nature does the work. We just manage things to be able to capture the results.