Join us on a tour of one of the oldest vinegar breweries in China, and find out how traditional Chinese vinegar is brewed.
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How Chinese Vinegar is Brewed
Shing Shi’s oldest vinegar brewery was established in 1386 during the early Ming Dynasty. Today, over 600 years later, brewers at the Shing Shi metro vinegar group still make metro vinegar the way their ancestors did. The traditional methods of brewing, it ensures the consistent fine quality of their product, the taste, distinctively identified with Shing Shi. The process begins with the making of wine, for this Chinese Shogu, peas and wheat; ingredients readily available in Shing Shi are manually grounded in old fashioned mill.
The ground compound is then steamed and then mixed with yeast for the fermentation process. After seven days, the yeast acts on the natural sugars on the mix turning them into alcohol. Then, to promote oxidation, the grain compound is continuously churned to expose it to the air. Naturally occurring bacteria then go to work on the grain mixture. The result is the formation of acidic acid which gives vinegar its sour taste. To improve on their vinegar, innovative Shing Shi brewers added another stage to the process, roasting the grains. Over six days, the distiller’s grains are transferred from one oven to another until the grains turn darker and release the trademark sharp aroma.
The next stage in the production of vinegar is the adding of hot water to the roasted grains. The resulting dark liquid is just one stage away from being Shing Shi vinegar, high grade vinegar that has been endorsed by international experts. The final stage of the vinegar brewing process is that which transforms vinegar into the famous Shing Shi vinegar. This entails storing the vats of vinegar in the controlled environment for at least ten months to increase acidic concentration in the liquid.
After nearly a year in storage, a vat of 250 kilogram vinegar has been reduced by evaporation to just 50 kilograms, signaling the tail end of a 600 year old vinegar brewing process that results in arguably one of the best vinegars in the world.