Friday, July 18, 2014

Apple Cider Vinegar: What Grandma, and Hippocrates, Knew

I am never without cider vinegar. Because if I run out, I immediately need it again before I can even get to the store (word to the wise: Buy at least a half-gallon; it lasts).  Cider vinegar is that versatile, and that, in my opinion, nonsubstitutable. If that is a word.  You may sometimes see distilled white vinegar suggested as an alternative, but no, too sharp.  Apple cider vinegar is sweeter and more mellow—I’d go for my white balsamic, to which I am equally devoted, before that, at least for dressings and maybe some chutneys. But really, just have it on hand. It’s dirt cheap and always produces just the right subtle result.

Of course we cook and preserve with it. But it has been a kitchen and apothecary staple for many other purposes since ancient times—as a refreshing and healthful tonic (making a come-back today, bottled like water and sold, like water, at high prices to the susceptible); an excellent cleaning product and stain remover; a cool skin astringent; a rinse for squeaky clean hair; a pesticide; a disinfectant; a de-scaler; a weight-loss aid--and Colonial bakers understood that a little bit worked a tender magic on pie crust and bread, and that it was just as at home in a homey dessert as in a jar of pickles, as this unusual—and unusually good--roly-poly attests.

Vinegar Roly-Poly  With Corn

You can’t get more old-fashioned than my version of this old idea: truly, something my Pennsylvania German grandmother would have made, even with what turned out to be a somewhat inspired use, if I do say so myself, of Coll’s corn. I do sometimes think Grandma’s spirit lives on in me.  Serves 8.

For the syrup
¾ cider vinegar
1 ½ c water
1 cup sugar
2 tea cinnamon

For the dough
2 c sifted a-p flour
1 T bp
1 tea salt
1/3 cup (5 T) lard or, if you must, Crisco
¾ whole milk

For the filling 
1 ear fresh corn
4 T butter, divided
¼ c sugar plus a little more
2 tea cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a 9” round pan or pie plate and set aside.

Combine the vinegar, water, 1 c of sugar, and 2 tea cinnamon in small pan over low heat til sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to medium, and reduce by half or so to a light syrup, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside.

While making the syrup, shuck the corn and cut the kernels off; do not scrape the ear yet, but set it and the corn aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, bp, and salt. Cut in the lard or shortening. Scrape the milk from the reserved ear into the mixture, add the whole mile, and stir to make a soft dough. Lightly flour the counter or a board and roll the dough into a rectangle ¼” thick, about 9 x 10. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ sugar and 2 tea cinnamon over the reserved corn kernels. Sprinkle a bit of extra sugar over the dough, then distribute sugar-spiced corn over it.  Dot with 2 T butter.

Roll the dough gently from the longer side and cut the dough crosswise 1” thick, first trimming each end by about ½”. Place the slices cut side up, close together, in the pan. Dot with the remaining butter. Pour over all the hot vinegar mixture. I recommend  placing on a nonstick sheet pan or enameled broiler pan. Bake 30-40 min at 375, until lightly golden and dry to the touch, with no apparent liquid: a sauce will have formed on the bottom of the pinwheels.  Let sit for just a minute, then serve very warm, with some pan sauce and then some heavy cream spooned over, as a dessert or breakfast treat.

Note: Don’t be tempted to cut back too much on the 4 tea of cinnamon. It’s a lot, but not too much; it transforms quite a bit in the syrup. If you cut it down, cut a teaspoon from the sugar mixture that goes inside the dough.


racheld said...

Ah, yes---the indispensable Apple Cider Vinegar. Despite the lovely bottles of Balsamic this and Champagne that in the cupboards with the spices and herbs and oils, there's always a gallon of it at foot-bumping height in the store-room.

I keep it because my Mammaw did, using it for special pickles and splashing onto the three o'clock-picked cucumbers-for-supper, or into a vinegar pie. A friend who dines with us occasionally asks for a "little thimble" before dinner every time, for his digestion, and sips it daintily from the slenderest small liqueur glass.

Mammaw was also a grand proponent of Tarragon Vinegar---"TARE-gun." which I don't see often any more. I cannot recall any flavor to it but sharp, but have made my own, in the sunshine of the upstairs kitchen windows, with basil and pepper and garlic and lavender and sage all in a row of shining bottles.

I'm always charmed by your usages of things, and the dishes of your own raising which are as easy to hand and mind as cornbread and cobbler to mine.


Anonymous said...

Is that 3/4 cup vinegar and 3/4 cup milk in the syrup and dough, respectively? No measurement is listed...

Jane said...

Rachel, love the story about the little thimbleful for digestion--you've made my case. The TARE-gun viengar can be a little sharp if it gets too old. Best used soon after it's made. Tarragon can truly overpower,but it is good when used in moderation.

We are cobbler cousins, I just know it. J

Jane said...


I don't state the amounts in the written directions usually, unless I am calling for dividing something, so just use what is in the ingredients list. So, yes, 3/4 c vinegar in the syrup, and 3/4 c milk in the dough.