Wild Kiselici Apple Vinegar
Vinegar - North Macedonia
The local kiselici apple differs from other wild growing apples. It has an intense green color with an irregular, round shape, a thick skin, firm texture and juicy flesh. The small apples are usually no larger than 7 cm in diameter. It is a native species, growing on a tree that grows no more than 2 meters in height. Kiselici apples are very sour and astringent when eaten fresh, and are instead used to make an apple vinegar. Production follows a traditional recipe that has been passed down for generations. Apples are crushed and left in a special metal bucket (chinkova) with water for 1.5 - 2 months in warm weather or 3-4 months in cool weather. The mixture is gradually stirred, and the apples are manually ground once they have softened. The final mixture is strained and stored in glass bottles. The vinegar can be stored for 2-3 years. It is mainly produced in the villages of the Maleshevo region in eastern Macedonia, and is not known or prepared in other parts of the country. Kiselici apple vinegar is considered a highly nutritious product, containing anti-oxidants and helping to regulate cholesterol and blood sugar. It is often consumed as a daily drink, if diluted with water. It is also used in the kitchens of area restaurants and resorts. It is not generally sold in markets, though it can be purchased directly from producers. The vinegar has a sweet and sour taste, and a muddy appearance. It is denser than most other vinegars. Construction in the area where kiselici apples grow threatens the future of this vinegar, as the native trees are cut to make way for tourist facilities. Because the wild apple vinegar is mainly prepared by older generations, it may also be lost if there is no one to continue the vinegar-making tradition unique to this region.