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Jaymes

New products from Rancho Gordo (banana vinegar and more)

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I read somewhere, in one of the many references to Rancho Gordo's products but I can't remember which one, about a new product that they are offering: Banana Vinegar.

So I went to his website to check it out. I read that one of Napa's most high falutin' chefs was mixing this vinegar with piloncillo - 2 parts vinegar to 1 part of the brown sugar - and then putting it over ice cream.

This sounded so strange to me that, of course, I had to try it.

So I ordered some Rancho Gordo banana vinegar and picked up a good brand of piloncillo at my local Mex market and gave it a try.

This has to be one of the most interesting, intriguing things I've tasted in many a year. I'm not sure I'd be able to accurately determine the flavors if I hadn't mixed them up myself. It tastes like some sort of a particularly rich, dark caramel, with banana overtones.

That banana vinegar is absolutely wonderful. I actually bought three jars of it, intending to give two as gifts. That ain't happening.

Unless I buy two more, that is.

Rancho Gordo Banana Vinegar


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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The Philippine market in my town sells a banana vinegar but it is not exactly like this product.

The one I have purchased is more like regular vinegar, just a bit sweeter and quite dark in color.

In my bookmarks file I have this link for how to make banana vinegar.

I've never tried it, although I do make the banana ketchup that is another Philippine product.

I don't know how many varieties of vinegar I have on had presently. I have used the coconut, honey, fig and balsamic recently, and cane vinegar.

I'm going to order this one though. I like all of RGs product.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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luckily I needed some more beans, so I ordered two of these to come along :-)

Now I guess I have to go to the mexican market for that sugar, or does some other brown sugar qualify too?


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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luckily I needed some more beans, so I ordered two of these to come along :-)

Now I guess I have to go to the mexican market for that sugar, or does some other brown sugar qualify too?

It's available in all of our local supermarkets. We're in Houston, so there is a large Mexican presence here. But my son lives closer to you, in San Jose, and I've bought it in the regular grocery stores there as well.

I'm sure you could use brown sugar in a pinch, but I've never done a side-by-side taste test comparison. My feeling, though, is that piloncillo seems a little less processed. I think it's probably worth seeking out and can't think you'd have too much trouble.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Agree with Jaymes that the piloncillo is more dry (well it comes in a compressed tubular shape) and has a more unrefined, less sweet almost "burnt" taste. I have subbed brown sugar but there is an element missing

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thanks, I'll be looking for some! So it comes like a round stick? I have palm sugar for Thai cooking, that's a solid block in a plastic tub, I use a spoon to scrape it off. Tasty stuff.

My vinegar just arrived :-)

ETA, if I can find it today, I'll try it on strawberries (from California) and raspberries (from Mexico) tonight, I'll report :-)


Edited by OliverB (log)

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Is it common knowledge on these boards that the traditional vinegar in Mexico is made from Pineapple? Banana does not seem like much of a stretch from that, and in Italy they make some pretty expensive vinagers from Mango.

I've been to Rancho Gordo's home... he has a wicked Pinapple vinager mother going... among a gazillon interesting things.

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thanks, I'll be looking for some! So it comes like a round stick?

Usually it comes in a conical shape, but I've seen it in flat patties, too.

Goya Piloncillo


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Agree with Jaymes that the piloncillo is more dry (well it comes in a compressed tubular shape) and has a more unrefined, less sweet almost "burnt" taste. I have subbed brown sugar but there is an element missing

I had some jaggery and have used that and it works great and has that particular flavor that I associate with "burnt" sugar.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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thanks for the picture, that'll help too! The large safeway did not have it, but there are Mexican markets not too far, it's rainy, so it's nice to have something to do tomorrow :-)

But I'll also experiment with honey and other sugars, but first I have to taste the stuff, which I'll be doing soon :-)


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Sorry to have missed this.

Thanks for all the interest and of course all the kind words!

The really interesting thing about this product is that when the price of the plantains gets too low, they let them rot instead of harvesting them and then they "juice" them and let it ferment to become this vinegar. Most flavored vinegars are wine or apple cider based with flavoring added. This is fermented plantain juice. It's pretty wild.

Apparently this variety is somewhere between a banana and a plantain.

I was horrified to learn that there are many variations of bananas and plantains we just import one boring variety. Driving through Veracruz (where the plantation is located) we came across dozens of great varieties.

re the piloncillo, it was the pastry chef at Meadowood Resort in Napa Valley that came up with the piloncillo/vinegar mix as a topping for vanilla ice cream. It's pretty dreamy. If you haven't scouted out piloncillo yet, we've started importing it from a cooperative in the Huasateca of San Luis Potosi that does it all by hand. they juice the sugar cane, heat it, crack it, heat it and repeat until it's almost dry. They have a secret technique to keep it granulated. Apparently sugar is treated four times with sulpher. Traditional piloncillo is treated once and ours not at all. I'll be adding it to the website later tonight.

I'm sorry if some of this comes off as too commercial. I'm just intending to share what I know about these odd but cook products.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I found these photos from my visit to the cooperative. It was a brutal drive on curvy roads but it was really inspiring meeting these guys.

IMG_4973.jpg

IMG_4949.jpg

They used to slash and burn but now they cut back the sugar cane. The danger is snakes but the payoff is they save money and it's much better for the soil.

IMG_4909.jpg

They literally juice each cane and then heat the juice in big vats and reduce it to a pourable granulated form. It's very hot there and the other crop they have is cotton. Can you imagine two worse crops?

IMG_5346.jpg

The finished product!


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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I found these photos from my visit to the cooperative. It was a brutal drive on curvy roads but it was really inspiring meeting these guys.

IMG_4973.jpg

IMG_4949.jpg

They used to slash and burn but now they cut back the sugar cane. The danger is snakes but the payoff is they save money and it's much better for the soil.

IMG_4909.jpg

They literally juice each cane and then heat the juice in big vats and reduce it to a pourable granulated form. It's very hot there and the other crop they have is cotton. Can you imagine two worse crops?

IMG_5346.jpg

The finished product!

Wow - as a big proponent of sustainable agriculture, I love the story behind this product. Can't wait to try this sugar! Your partnership with these farms in Mexico is a great example of win-win. They have a market for their products and we get access to sustainable products that might otherwise never make out of the their local area. Keep up the good work!

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Thanks for the education and lovely pics. I know little about Mexican agriculture and products. It’s nice to learn this way.

Unfortunately my wife is not a vinegar or banana fan so I probably won’t be investing in a bottle though I am curious and will look out for a sampling (though I doubt any restaurants/taqs are using it in NY, esp in this way).

Going through your site the Deserted Island sampler looks like a good first timer order. :raz:


That wasn't chicken

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Unfortunately info about this sugar now being available at Rancho Gordo arrived in my inbox about an hour after my package with the vinegar (and beans, lots of beans!) arrived at my door, so I'll have to settle with what I can find at the Mexican market later today, but the story and seeing the photos is great, thanks! I'll order some next time, once we ate all those beans, yumm.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Back to Veracruz, I found these photos. I took mostly movies there so of course they are still sitting in my old videocam.

IMG_3808.jpg

Platano grove

IMG_3825.jpg

My friend Yunuen and some of the flowers she found on the grounds.

IMG_3832.jpg

Wild tomatoes foraged from around the plantation.

IMG_3839.jpg

The plantain used- somewhere between a banana and a platano macho, or what we call a plantain.

IMG_3722.jpg

...and while you're in the neighborhood, you can visit El Tajin.

Don't think that I don't know I'm the LUCKIEST fellow on the planet. When I go on these trips, I have to pinch myself. How did I end up getting to do this?


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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wild tomatoes, as in from the wild original plants tomatoes, or tomatoes that escaped a garden? If the former, how do they taste/compare?

I found the sugary stuff at the Mexican market, but not next to the sugar, in the produce department! They had a huge pile of it there, smaller and larger cones, got me two of each. Does taste different than brown sugar, a bit of bitterness, but tastes great. Dont have nay ice cream, if I get around to it I might try some on strawberries tonight, but that might not happen. But I'll post here once I do try it!


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I found the sugary stuff at the Mexican market, but not next to the sugar, in the produce department! They had a huge pile of it there, smaller and larger cones, got me two of each. Does taste different than brown sugar, a bit of bitterness, but tastes great.

Yes, I've often found it in the produce department. Many grocery stores that cater to a Mexican population sell sugar cane in the produce department and the piloncillo is often right next to it.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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They had a huge pile of it, no label, just a price. I'd have never known what it is. Easy several buckets full in a bin, I guess it's something popular. Anybody know what it's normally used for, just as a replacement for sugar?

I just brought home a little tub of vanilla ice cream.....

(PS: I'm always amazed at the variety and amounts of hot chilies in that market!)


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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They had a huge pile of it, no label, just a price. I'd have never known what it is. Easy several buckets full in a bin, I guess it's something popular. Anybody know what it's normally used for, just as a replacement for sugar?

I just brought home a little tub of vanilla ice cream.....

(PS: I'm always amazed at the variety and amounts of hot chilies in that market!)

I would say its the primary sugar used in Mexico... hence why its not labeled. On a cultural note of interest... one of the terms for piloncillo is Panocha which is also slang for vagina.

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My neighbor uses the sugar for making candies - also candied pumpkin and squash and some fruit candies.

Sometimes it is very hard, if stored for a long time and she uses the same thing I use on jaggery, a coarse carpenter's rasp. Works a treat with less effort than hammering the stuff and pounding it in a mortar.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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