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3 metro Atlanta-area vinegars you need in your pantry

Strawberry Vinegar from Buffalo Creek Berry Farm/Provided by Laura Phillips
Strawberry Vinegar from Buffalo Creek Berry Farm/Provided by Laura Phillips

Vinegars are essential ingredients in my kitchen. I can’t always keep fresh lemons or limes on hand, but I can always have a variety of vinegars for when a recipe needs that hint of tart. White distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar are fine, but these flavored vinegars go way beyond, and they’re all made right here in the Atlanta area.

Strawberry Vinegar from Buffalo Creek Berry Farm 

Laura and Cameron Phillips of Buffalo Creek Berry Farm work 23 acres in Oglethorpe County where they grow a wide variety of fruit including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, elderberries and mulberries. The farm is Certified Naturally Grown and they offer u-pick berries in season. Right now, they are open for strawberry U-pick by reservation only and have booked up quickly. They will open reservations again when they know how the crop is holding up. Good news for us then that the Phillips used some of their strawberries to flavor raw, unfiltered apple cider and balsamic vinegar. They suggest the strawberry vinegar would make a good “health tonic.” It certainly is full of bracing spring flavor. It’s very tart and very strawberry. We think it would make a great shrub (with a little sweetness added), but what a perfect vinegar for those early season strawberry and spinach salads.

$18 per 9-ounce bottle. Available Saturday mornings at Freedom Farmers Market beginning May 23 and at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market in June and July, and online at https://www.bcberryfarmga.square/.

Sweet and Savory Red Wine Vinegar from MarRay Foods 

Sweet and Savory Red Wine Vinegar from MarRay Foods/Provided by Diane Curtis
Sweet and Savory Red Wine Vinegar from MarRay Foods/Provided by Diane Curtis

The sweet and savory red wine vinegar from Diane Curtis of MarRay Foods in Smyrna is an interesting combination of flavors reflecting Curtis’ passion for the food indigenous to the area around the Mediterranean Sea. Our testers found it much more complex than most red wine vinegars and enjoyed the layers of flavor. The base of red wine vinegar is infused with dried dates, ginger, cumin seed and black pepper and then sweetened with honey, so the Mediterranean influences are easily apparent, The subtle sweetness of the dates and honey compliments the warm spices. Our testers are thinking, “marinade” for chicken or other meats (lamb, maybe?), but thought it would also make a great dressing for a salad with grains and hearty greens. Curtis says she likes it as a marinade for pork and uses it in salads that include walnuts, fresh berries and dried fruits.

$10 per 8-ounce bottle. Available through the Community Farmers Market online store, directly from the chef for pick up at the Green Market at Piedmont Park, or online at https://marrayfoods.com/

Sourwood Balsamic Vinegar from Built by Bees 

Sourwood Balsamic Vinegar from Built by Bees
Sourwood Balsamic Vinegar from Built by Bees

Atlanta-based Built by Bees sells honey and honey-based products such as mustards and vinegars. They offer a range of balsamic vinegar-honey combinations including orange blossom, raspberry blossom and tupelo, but we tried the sourwood honey version and that’s where we stopped. It’s made with oak barrel-aged apple cider mead vinegar and I really believe you can taste the contribution made by those oak barrels. The vinegar is lightly sweet, mildly floral and absolutely delicious. We can see why it won at 2019 Sofi award (from the Specialty Food Association) and was a winner in the 2018 UGA Flavor of Georgia competition. It’s easy to imagine in all kinds of dishes, but one of our testers said she thought it would be perfect for a caprese salad. It doesn’t have the thick body of some balsamic vinegars, but the flavor is just right combination of sweet and tart to complement those ingredients.

$18.95 per 8.5-ounce bottle. Use $5 off coupon-code "newbee" on your first order. Available online at https://builtbybees.com/

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