Mendocino Coast Made Kombucha Vinegar with our Espelette Chiles! - January 2021

We’ve got a lot in store for y’all this year, including several new offerings that we're just finishing the packaging for. We’re kicking it off with something we’re really excited about - Espelette Chile Vinegar made by Wilder Ferments, a wildcrafted kombucha company here in Mendocino County!

Wilder Ferments took our idea of vinegar flavored with Espelette chiles (the chiles that make Piment d'Ville) and brought it to life. The vinegar is made with Wilder's kombucha, which gives it a floral and fruity taste that's a bit softer than apple cider vinegar. The vinegar was cold infused with whole Piment d'Ville peppers for a month to leave behind a chile finish. Use the vinegar in salad dressings, to pickle veggies, to brighten sauces, or honestly just sip it like a tonic. It’s that flavorful and delicious.

How it came to be

I met partners Niko Ramsdell and Evita Sikelianos over Instagram last summer when I was trying to sell our strawberries to local restaurants and food businesses. This vinegar came together over a text message as I was dreaming of an Espelette vinegar that I picked up in the Basque region of France years ago at this point. I’d been looking for someone that could make something similar for us and I reached out to Niko to see what he thought. After a distanced chile hand off, Wilder Ferments Espelette Chile Vinegar was born.

About Wilder Ferments

Niko and Evita have been formally brewing Kombucha as Wilder Ferments since early 2019. Evita brings a background in herbalism that adds great depth to Niko’s fermentation experience. Their flavors move beyond classic kombuchas and include Black Birch and Elder Tonic. Other flavors change through the seasons based on what farms have available here in the county. Last summer, Wilder made 2 different kombuchas with our produce - Strawberry Fir Tip with our strawberries and Watermelon Chili with our Espelette chiles that literally tasted like a spicy Jolly Rancher. I’m still dreaming of that one. While they mainly focus on kombucha, Niko and Evita also experiment with vinegars. If you let kombucha ferment long enough, the scoby will consume all the sugar in the tea resulting in a sour kombucha, or a perfect vinegar. Kombucha vinegar is much milder than other vinegars like apple cider or white wine vinegar.

We’ve got a limited supply of the Espelette Vinegar right now, but there’s more brewing! We’re hoping to have this one in stock on the regular as the year progresses.

What's up next

If 2020 taught us anything, it was the importance of building a diversified farm. We've got some exciting new shelf stable products that we'll be launching in February, and are getting ever closer to releasing 2020.  If you need to stock up on chile powders? We’ve got you covered.

Wilder Ferments products can mainly be found at Mendocino County farmer’s markets, and a few retail grocers here in the county. You can follow along on their journey via Instagram, and read more about what they do in Word of Mouth Magazine.

What We're Cooking

Spiced Ginger Elixir with Wilder Espelette Vinegar

Our friend Clare Langan (@clarelangan) adapted this Julia Turshen recipe for a spiced ginger elixir, perfect to make you feel better in the depths of winter. Move over fire cider, this elixir is perfect with the Wilder Espelette Vinegar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 4 inch piece fresh peeled ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Espelette Vinegar (I guess you could use apple cider vinegar...)
  • 2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp Piment d'Ville or Comapeno chile powder (optional if you use the Espelette vinegar)
  • pinch of salt

Prep the lemon: remove the skin with a peeler or a zester. Put in a large bowl. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the bowl.

Add in the spent lemon rind. Add boiling water, ginger, vinegar, honey, cinnamon stick, chile powder, and salt. Stir to dissolve the honey. Let this steep for at least 10 minutes, or for a few hours for a stronger flavor. Rewarm gently in a post on the stove or enjoy cold over ice with sparkling water.