Chicaoji is made with certified organic apple cider vinegar (ACV). I chose ACV for its taste and for the health benefits, known since the times of the ancient Greeks. You may already be familiar with ACV used as a daily tonic.
A little story about apple cider vinegar:
As with so much of life, the story starts with sunlight. Sunlight shines on the apple tree leaf and chlorophyll magically makes a simple sugar with the sunlight, carbon, and hydrogen and puts it in liquid: apple juice. The “Mother of Vinegar” is a complex of organisms that transform sweet apple juice into vinegar. (You can see it as thready cloud in the bottom of any bottle of raw unfiltered ACV at your store.)
Broadly divided into two categories, the Mother of Vinegar consists of yeasts and bacteria.
The yeasts come along first and break the apple sugars down into carbon dioxide and alcohol in an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment we call fermentation. It is at this point known as “hard cider”, a beverage enjoyed by people world over. Hot on the heels of the yeasts are the acetobacters which are bacteria that in an aerobic (with oxygen) environment break down the alcohol into acetic acid among other things. Acetic acid is the sour part of vinegar.
It’s a really cool process that involves Tribes of organisms that are absolutely fundamental to Life. Without the fungi (yeast are part of this Tribe) land based life forms would not likely exist. Without bacteria none of us would exist.
Long Range Plan
Eventually, I hope to use a local or regional apple cider vinegar to make Chicaoji. The San Juan Islands are a wonderful fruit growing region. Before irrigation of the farmlands East of the Cascade Mountains and the development of the interstate highway system, this region produced fruit abundantly and was called the fruit basket. You can find old orchards dotting the rural landscapes all over the region. There is a movement to inventory and propagate these old trees to save the old varieties, some call it the Heritage Fruit Tree Project.
I hope your desire for Chicaoji will translate into a market demand for apple cider vinegar in this area and that this this would, in turn, translate into demand for apples, apple based products, and processing infrastructure. I hope for that fresh/dried/frozen fruit, fresh cider, hard cider, fruit spirits, sauce, sweeteners, jams, jellies, and vinegars will provide livelihoods for generations.
Alpenfire Cider near Port Townsend, WA is about as close as we have to a local apple cider vinegar at this time. They produce a delicious organic apple cider vinegar but the demand for their locally grown organic cider consumes their supply so they don’t have enough to supply Chicaoji. Their vinegar is unique and awesome.