Finding a creative outlet that is both productive and satisfying is so important when I am working in my kitchen. I like to research and read as much as I can about certain processes before I start experimenting. In the case of this Fermented Fig Vinegar, patience and time yield an absolutely incredible end product.
With an over abundance of Figs in my garden at this time of year, I am very excited to share my knowledge of making Fermented Fig Vinegar. The fermentation process really couldn’t be simpler. A few clean jars, ripe figs, a boost from an unfiltered raw vinegar, pickling weights, a muddler, and a little time to watch the whole thing come to life right on your kitchen counter is all that is needed!
I made this for the very first time last year. I have been avidly fermenting all kinds of fruits and vegetables for quite some time now. So, it just seemed a natural to make Vinegar out of all my extra figs. I was lucky enough to stumble across @tavolamediterranea on Instagram last September, as she highlighted an ancient translation for the making of Fig Vinegar in the days of Pompeii.
Combining both the ancient guidance and my own knowledge of fermentation, I successfully produced a beautiful and floral vinegar that I have used consistently over the past year in everything from simple salad dressings to marinades.
I use 3 and 5 liter glass jars with sealed tops to process the vinegar. Wash them with a little soapy water and rinse them thoroughly with very hot water. Dry completely.
Wash and dry as many figs as you can fit into a jar. Place figs into jar. Fill with tepid filtered water. Add approximately 1/4 cup Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar per liter of water. Place glass pickling weights on top of the figs. It is really important that the figs are submerged under the liquid. Bring the liquid level up to the neck of the jar by adding a little more water, if necessary. Close the lid on the jars and place in a cool, dark corner of kitchen counter.
This process will take 30 days to transform and ferment. I like to be able to check the progress daily, I therefore leave the jars where I can see them.
After just 3 days, the fermentation process has begun. The brine starts to become such a brilliant fuchsia color and when the lid is opened, there are little “Boozy Bubbles” that have begun to percolate. There is even the sweet and boozy smell of fermenting figs. This is all a great sign!
Observing the “Mother Yeast” or scoby maturing on the surface of the brine is completely normal. Eventually, much of this bubbling will diminish during the fermentation process, leaving a slight residue on the surface. This white residue will be skimmed off and filtered. The thing to watch for here is mold development. Note: (Mold takes on a dark, furry appearance and should be skimmed off immediately). Sometimes a fig will dislodge itself from underneath the pickling weights, and rise to the surface. When this happens I usually discard that fig. There is no sense taking the risk of mold growth when the fruit meets the air.
After just over two weeks, many of the surface bubbles have burst and there is a slight residue on the surface of the brine. Again, all of this gets skimmed and filtered in the final product.
At Day 30, there is work to be done in the kitchen! The first thing to do is to skim off the white residue on the surface of the brine. I do this before I transfer and filter the vinegar. Using a relatively flat spoon, I remove as much residue as possible.
Next, I line a large colander with paper towels or a double layer of cheesecloth, and place it in a very large mixing bowl, one that will accommodate the size of the colander. I then transfer the contents of the jars slowly into the colander. Depending on how much brine and figs there are, do not let it overflow the capacity of the colander. It may take more than one time to filter all of the product.
With a muddler, a potato masher or the back of a large slotted spoon begin to break up all the figs until they become a uniform mash in the colander. Slowly begin to lift the paper towels or cheesecloth, gathering the corners. This begins the first filtration. Squeeze until only pulp is left in the cheesecloth. Lift the colander and press out any remaining liquid into the large mixing bowl.
Discard the pulp. Rinse out the cheesecloth and repeat this process until all the figs have been separated from the brine. This usually takes 2-3 passes through the cheesecloth.
A final filtering occurs before the fig vinegar is ready for bottling. Here I am using a mesh strainer lined with coffee filters. Cheesecloth is also a great way to filter out the few remaining seeds and pulp.
Using clean, decorative bottles that have tight fitting corks or tops, funnel the vinegar into the bottles.
This is the final product after three months. Upon observing closely, you will see at the bottom of the bottle the “Mother Yeast”. This will be saved for the future when I start this whole process again next season.
There is something very engaging and satisfying for me when I have this kind of project going on in my kitchen. I think it appeals to my inner science geek! I hope you find as much enjoyment in watching this process as I do making it. I think it is so important to find wonder and satisfaction in our daily responsibilities and work. It is the difference between living the mundane and the excellence in Life!
Please share with me what brings you satisfaction and joy in your daily lives! And if you give this vinegar a try, please let me know. I’m happy to help you along the way! I would love to hear from you!