Our Master Blender, Cyril Gonzales, answers your questions about the cider vinegars and balsamics that he and his team skillfully create for Surette Condiments.

Yes, this is normal, because our products are not filtered. These deposits give a velvety texture to our products. Also, the presence of vinegar mother accentuates this deposit formed by the residues of pressing apples, in particular. A mother of vinegar is a natural filament (biofilm) formed by bacteria that convert alcohol into acetic acid (the main ingredient in vinegar). This natural filament in your bottle of vinegar is very precious and testifies to a phenomenon of ageing that is completely harmless and, above all, good for health! You can leave it in your bottle or remove it by straining your vinegar or balsamic vinegar through a coffee filter if you think it’s good. But to keep it is to let nature evolve.
Ideally, our products are to be consumed in the year following their opening, to be able to taste all the volatile aromas that comprise them. It is not necessary to refrigerate them. Over time, the taste changes and a natural deposit is formed. It is an excellent guarantee of quality!
Acidity gives vinegar a sour taste. The higher the levels of acetic acid in the latter, the more acidic their taste. Our apple cider vinegar has an acetic acid level of 4.2%, which is the base level to be able to call our product apple cider vinegar according to Canadian standards. Our balsamic has a lower acidity rate; they are therefore sweeter to the taste but retain a small tangy touch.
My job is to select the right ingredients to create the best possible blends and thus ensure the quality and excellence of our condiments. I am always on the lookout for particular flavours and unique aromatic profiles; I want to find flavours inspired by the regional Quebec products and create the Surette touch! It takes a lot of patience because I want to do it right and take the time to make the right products with the right people. I always do several tests and tastings to find the right blend recipe, like a winemaker blends several grape varieties. I also do research, in collaboration with the producers with whom we work, on the transformation of products and the ageing of vinegar. I am close to them because I want to understand their issues and stay abreast of technological developments that influence their work and mine. I always try to have in mind future blends of condiments to develop. We’re Constantly working with the team on new products!
We only use ungraded fruits. Apples are selected for their taste and acidity and come from all over Quebec. These apples are often of all kinds of shapes, a little ugly, so they cannot be retailed; they are intended for transformation. The 2-year-old vinegar that we use in our blends comes from the Eastern Townships and our maple syrup, from Centre-du-Québec. All the producers with whom we work share our values of quality and respect for products. All our products are blended in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, in the Laurentians.
Our original idea with our Surette balsamics was to create balsamics to add the final touch to dishes and enhance their flavours. We wanted to explore the different ways to exploit apple must reductions. We have worked for several years to find the right balance in taste, colour and textures. Our late apple balsamic vinegar is made from 100% late apple must that has been evaporated for long hours. It gives it a taste of caramelized apple and tarte Tatin without losing the apple’s freshness and tangy side. For the aged cider balsamic, we blend our apple must with cider vinegar aged two years in oak barrels. This vinegar unlike any other has a complex and woody taste that highlights the more tangy side of our musts.
Balsamic comes from the word “balm”, which means must. The must is the reduction of the juice obtained by pressing or cooking plants or plant extracts. We make our balsamic with apple must reduced by evaporation.
Our original idea with our Surette vinegar was to create vinegar to use in everyday cooking, with a slightly tart character, a little sour taste, as we say back home! We decided to blend young cider vinegar which has character, good acidity and a frank taste with an aged vinegar to which the maturation gives a more complex taste, a particular flavour. To give them a nice texture, we have incorporated maple syrup into our Yellow Maple Cider Vinegar and apple must into our Red Apple Cider Vinegar. Our final objective: to create a nice balance of flavours, the Surette touch!
Basically, apple cider vinegar is double fermented apple juice. Once the apples are pressed to extract their juice, a first fermentation, called alcoholic, is carried out. The sugars in apples are converted into alcohol by the action of yeasts. Then, a second fermentation, called acetic, gives the acidity necessary to transform the alcoholic apple juice into vinegar. This double fermentation concentrates cider vinegar’s flavours and aromas. The main thing then remains to be done, that is to say, the different blendings to obtain harmonious, tasty, well-structured and balanced vinegar. It is all the blender’s art that is exercised.

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