Gluten Free Malt Vinegar – a new product of Supreme Vinegar
About me and my passion for vinegar
I’m Reggie Smith, owner of Supreme Vinegar LLC, a specialty fruit and wine vinegar manufacturing company in Bensalem, PA just outside of Philadelphia. In the past, I have mainly concentrated on fruit vinegars and mothers of vinegar to help home vinegar hobbyists make better vinegar. However, I have always been interested in vinegar as a whole–its history, chemistry, biology, etc. As part of the research for my new forthcoming book on the history of vinegar, The Eternal Condiment, I learned a lot about the history of malt vinegar, so much I wrote a separate recent article on the history of malt vinegar. Learning about the history of vinegar helped me understand how to make my own, as well as common issues vinegar hobbyists encounter.
Gluten in your vinegar? Say what?
When I started out in vinegar, thinking about glutens was the furthest thing from my mind. Vinegar food safety is all about acidity and no wheat products, nuts, milk, etc. ever touch the process. So when I got my first questions about whether my red wine vinegar was “gluten free” I was puzzled but doing my research I was able to confirm it was. My first realization of the intersection of glutens and vinegar came from a customer complaint about a Chinese vinegar. I distribute several premium vinegars from China, including the famous yet hard-to-find Shanxi vinegars. For those who don’t know the difference between vinegar in China vs. Japan, Japanese vinegar is often rice based while that in China is usually made from mashing various cereals–wheat, sorghum (gluten free), oats as well as other ingredients like herbs or soybeans.
The complaint was a customer had a stomach ache from the vinegar which I was happy to accommodate a return/refund. At first I thought it just disagreed with her. Then reading an article on food analysis, I realized it was quite possible glutens in the vinegar may have upset her. I knew gluten reactions could be bad from a co-worker whose daughter had a near fatal allergic reaction to glutens.
The rise of gluten free vinegar
From there I went into gluten research understanding the basics as well as detection tests such as the R5 Competitive ELISA, etc. Looking into my other vinegars, I realized malt vinegar was the most likely suspect. Knowing its formulation I began wondering how the glutens could be lessened or eliminated and that is where my gluten free homebrewing adventure began. After some research and product testing, I decided on a joint malted buckwheat/malted millet ale for the base to ferment into vinegar. Luckily, my equipment can also be used for mashing. I created a prototype that I am currently testing with customers and on Amazon.com. Gluten levels are at most less than 10 ppm according to lab testing (the lowest level measurable) so it will hopefully provide an alternative to those who love malt vinegar for fish & chips or other uses, but can’t stomach the gluten. If anyone is interested, I have limited samples, I just need feedback after trying them. I will likely start planning a full scale production ramp later this year.
www.supremevinegar.com / firstname.lastname@example.org