Berry Vinegar Workshop

Yesterday I attended a cooking workshop at American Flatbread to learn how to make berry vinegar and their famous salad dressing. When I arrived, I was the first one there, so I started talking with the chef/teacher. He asked if I eat at the American Flatbread in Middlebury a lot. I had to tell him that I had to stop going because, although I ordered a gf flatbread, I experienced so much cross-contamination that I kept getting glutened. He became a little defensive, told me he thought the heat of the fire would “kill” all the gluten [not true], and asked why people “suddenly” have problems with gluten. I hate this question. Why so judgmental? I think that so many people have been suffering for years with unknown illnesses caused by consuming gluten. Celiac disease is genetic–it has been around for a long time–but diagnosed at alarmingly low rates. So yes, it may appear that more people are suffering from gluten related illnesses now, but really there is just more awareness now.

After that awkwardness had passed and more people arrived for the workshop, we left Lareau Farm to pick blueberries at Knoll Farm in Waitsfield. It was easy picking, but there were still so many berries that needed to ripen more. It is early in the season. After he each had filled two pints, we headed back to American Flatbread to make the vinegar.

Making the Vinegar
I feel so silly that I thought that the making of berry vinegar would be so much more complicated than what it is. Basically this is it: dump jug of white wine vinegar into big pot, add berries and maple syrup. Cook (steep really) until the temperature reaches 110 degrees. Take off heat. Blitz with immersion blender. That’s it.

White Wine Vinegar
He said this was a good brand of white wine vinegar, so I took a picture to remember. Maybe the Co-op carries it?
Steeping the berries and vinegar
Vinegar + Blueberries + Maple Syrup = berry vinegar. You can also use strawberries or raspberries.
Blending the Vinegar
Blending the vinegar with a really huge immersion blender . . .

We made salad dressing using the vinegar. This involved lots of ingredients: shallots, tamari, garlic, ginger, orange juice, oil, and of course, the vinegar. I’m not going to share the recipe because it is American Flatbread’s own creation.

Behind the scenes, making the salad dressing

We ate lunch outside at a big round table–a great way to end a terrific morning of getting to know new people. Everyone else had flatbread cooked in an outdoor oven. I just had a big plate of salad with the dressing.Salad

This spurred some discussion about gluten and cross-contamination. Two of the women in the class had young children with peanut and tree nut allergies, so it was interesting to hear their perspectives on restaurants and eating out. The teacher/chef ate with us, so hopefully he picked up some information about safe allergy friendly practices in the kitchen. It seems that restaurant kitchen staff have so little education about this issue. I will continue to teach about this and hope that it does not make me incredibly annoying.

American Flatbread is offering another workshop on Tuesday, August 12th. There is probably still some room. Click here for more information.

Bottling the Vinegar
At the end, we took home several jars of vinegar and a jar of dressing.
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