• Publishers' Note Winter 2014

    Publishers' Note Winter 2014

    Coming in from a cold, bleak winter day into the warmth and bustle of a winter farmers’ market brings a certain elation and reminds us of the spirit of community and the life force still in all things at this darkest time of year. 

    Continue Reading

  • Set the Table with Quince

    Set the Table with Quince

    The first time I met a quince, I was immediately smitten. There were plenty of beautiful apples around, but that box of quince enticed me with its sweet, exotic aroma. Could I possibly describe the complex fragrance? Why hadn’t I seen or tasted one before?

    Continue Reading

  • Peak Phosphorous: Crisis in the Making or Radical Opportunity?

    Peak Phosphorous: Crisis in the Making or Radical Opportunity?

    For many years environmental activists have used the term “peak oil” to refer to the coming crisis in availability of fossil fuels, and as part of a rhetorical strategy to hasten our shift toward a post-oil economy. Recently, some activists and scientists have begun to talk about another “peak” crisis: that of phosphorous.

    Continue Reading

  • How to Link to Land

    How to Link to Land

    “The key was that we didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

    In describing their farm journey, Jaska Bradeen, 29, and Katie Sullivan, 30, of Sheep and Pickle Farm in Brookfield, return again and again to this problem, one that they and many other beginning farmers like them have faced when first looking for land.

    Continue Reading

  • “It tastes like…”

    “It tastes like…”

    A food’s flavor can be hard to describe. We have a whole vocabulary for talking about how food is produced with terms like organic, heirloom, grass fed, pasture raised, line caught, cage free, community supported, miles traveled. 

    Continue Reading

  • Winter Bounty

    Winter Bounty

    It is almost winter in Vermont. The familiar crunch accompanies the early riser’s first steps onto the frosted tips of grass. Where the garden once teemed with large leaves of Swiss chard and the sweetest of cherry tomatoes, there remain only a few flattened beet leaves and carrot tops left behind from the fall harvest.

    Continue Reading

  • Know Your Local-i-tea

    Know Your Local-i-tea

    What’s the secret to staying warm and healthy although a long, cold Vermont winter? Many gardeners and herbalists would agree that teas made from our wild and garden herbs are the soothing secret to health and happiness, especially in winter.

    Continue Reading

  • Delivering the Goods in Windham County

    Delivering the Goods in Windham County

    Back in 2008, teacher Hans Estrin’s ecology students at The Putney School heard that rallying cry and launched a well-intentioned project: Take the surplus from the 3-acre garden at the private and progressive Putney School and donate it for lunches at the public Putney Central Elementary School, just down the hill. “It was a great idea!” says Hans. 

    Continue Reading

  • Farmers' Kitchen—Vermont Vinegar

    Farmers' Kitchen—Vermont Vinegar

    Shelburne Orchards is located along the shores of Lake Champlain. The orchard has been in Nick Cowles’s family since the 1950s and he took it over in the 1970s.

    Continue Reading

  • Last Morsel—From Farm to Spa

    Last Morsel—From Farm to Spa

    As Cynthea Wight Hausman was growing up—first on a commune in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later on her family’s New Hampshire homestead—fresh and organic foods were plentiful. In her teens, Cynthea made her own remedies and lotions from herbs and flowers gathered from the woods and gardens surrounding her home.

    Continue Reading

Farmers' Kitchen—Vermont Vinegar

Nick Cowles
Nick Cowles

Written By

Megan J. Humphrey

Written on

November 28 , 2013

Shelburne Orchards is located along the shores of Lake Champlain. The orchard has been in Nick Cowles’s family since the 1950s and he took it over in the 1970s. Since then, Nick has expanded the number of apple varieties, has begun to grow peaches, and now produces pasteurized and unpasteurized apple cider, ginger cider, Ginger Jack (a nonalcoholic concentration of apple and ginger), cider doughnuts, apple brandy, and apple cider vinegar.

So far, the orchard has produced some 100 gallons of unpasteurized cider vinegar. The vinegar’s now been aged for two years in oak barrels and is ready to be consumed, although sold only at the orchard. “Cider that’s gone by, and apples at the end of the brandy distillation process, can be utilized in the vinegar,” Nick says. Terry Hotaling, Nick’s right-hand man for 35 years or so, built a separate “Vinegar House” right at the orchard to prevent smells and spores from affecting the production of the orchard’s cider, brandy, and other food products.

An ongoing public discussion continues about the value of pasteurized versus unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Pasteurization exposes a food product to a higher temperature, which destroys certain microorganisms that can cause disease, unwanted fermentation, or spoiling. Unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains the intact enzymes formed through the fermentation process. These living enzymes are largely responsible for the healing and restorative properties of vinegar. Although filtered vinegar is more appealing to the eye, the highest quality is left unfiltered and unpasteurized. Nutritionally more potent than the pasteurized varieties, it is also typically more expensive.

There have been claims that vinegar helps to maintain a healthy pH balance in our body. It’s also been said that it can be used as a hair conditioner, flea repellent, aftershave, sunburn relief, tooth whitener, and household cleaner. There are people who swear that it helps with allergies because it can reduce mucus and sinus congestion. Some folks use vinegar to fade age spots. And you can rub vinegar on your hands to get rid of the smell after chopping onions.

Besides drinking some of his own unpasteurized vinegar every day, Nick’s been perfecting his vinegar reduction sauces. After some pondering, he claims that his sauces taste “spicy, somewhat sweet and tangy, but not vinegary.”

About the Author

Megan J. Humphrey

Megan J. Humphrey

Megan J. Humphrey has worked seasonally at Shelburne Orchards for the past 10 years. She is responsible for special events and marketing. Megan also has her own line of greeting cards (Sweet Basil Cards) and directs HANDS, a nonprofit working to connect food with older Vermonters.


Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest. Optional login below.

What we do

A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.

Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.


Sign up for quarterly notifications and issue highlights.
Please wait
Home Stories Issues 2014 Winter 2014 | Issue 27 Farmers' Kitchen—Vermont Vinegar