Book Review: “Wildcrafted Vinegars”

Pascal Baudar’s “Wildcrafted Vinegars” is a comprehensive guide to making (and using) vinegars using both foraged and store-bought ingredients.

by Robin Hackett
PHOTO: Courtesy of Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Title: Wildcrafted Vinegars: Making and Using Unique Acetic Acid Ferments for Quick Pickles, Hot Sauces, Soups, Salad Dressings, Pastes, Mustards and More
  • Author: Pascal Baudar
  • Cover Price: $34.95
  • Publication Date:  October 18, 2022
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

I have to admit that prior to reading Pascal Baudar’s Wildcrafted Vinegars, most of my at-home experiments with vinegar failed.  I ran into mold issues, off-flavors and almost-vinegar mixtures that never behaved quite like they should have. 

Now, having read the book, I can see why.  I never fully appreciated (or studied) the science of making vinegar.

Thankfully, Pascal Baudar has. His new book is an excellent resource for the novice (or experienced) vinegar maker. Although the book focuses on making vinegars with a variety of foraged ingredients (think foraged berries, mushrooms, etc.) many of the recipes also involve cultivated ingredients.

Why Make Vinegar?

So, why bother making your own? Unless you’re willing to pay a premium at specialty shops, most grocery-store products leave a lot to be desired. And, the selection tends to be quite limited. 

Once you learn how to make your own vinegar, on the other hand, almost infinite doors open. Wildcrafted Vinegars, for instance, contains recipes for vinegars that incorporate everything from elderflowers to seaweed and smoked hay.

Plus, making your own vinegar is a lot more fun (and fulfilling) than spending more money at the store.

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Beginning with the Basics

Unlike many cookbooks (if you can call it that), Wildcrafted Vinegars does more than simply catalog a bunch of recipes. Baudar begins the book by explaining various techniques to make vinegar, as well as the science behind these techniques. 

After walking you through the basics, he then spends some time exploring more alternative methods, like making vinegar from a wild yeast starter or from store-bought juice.

Read more: Pascal Baudar’s Wildcrafted Fermentation is fermentation for foragers!

Exploring Your Local Landscape

Baudar also dedicates a decent portion of the book to infusion, exploring the techniques and possibilities behind infusing your vinegars with a variety of (mostly foraged) ingredients. Although the whole book feels immensely creative, this section was especially eye-opening for me. Who’s ever heard of infusing vinegars to give them a more potent flavor, let alone with ingredients like seaweed? 

Baudar makes a more than convincing case for doing so, however, and for exploring your environment to create vinegars that capture the flavors of your local landscape. 

A Variety of Uses

In case you mistakenly believed that vinegar is just for salad dressings, Baudar dedicates most of the second half of the book to exploring the many uses for his vinegars. Sure, there are some recipes for salad dressings, but there are also recipes for salsas and mustards and hot sauces. 

Baudar even provides an assortment of pickle recipes, and recipes incorporating vinegars into a variety of soups and drinks.

Overall, Wildcrafted Vinegars is an exhilarating and exhaustive guide to both making and using vinegars.

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