The annual Monastery Vinegar Festival in Lagrangeville will be held on Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16 at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery. A variety of naturally fermented vinegars and other artisanal monastic products will be available to the public. Admission is free.
The vinegarmaking at Our Lady of the Resurrection began four decades ago, when the monastery’s founder, Benedictine monk Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette, came across a vinegar recipe dating to the Middle Ages. Inspired to recreate it, he began tinkering with the archaic ingredients, searching for contemporary substitutes. He was already familiar with the vinegarmaking process from his childhood in the French Pyrenees, where they often turned their old wine or cider into vinegar.
The vinegars that he began producing became highly sought-after for their intensity of flavor and for their purity, made with locally produced organic wine without sulfites or chemicals. As a naturally fermented product, the vinegars contain healthful probiotics that help digestion.
To purchase the vinegars, one usually has to visit the monastery’s Atelier Saint Joseph shop, open every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. But twice a year the vinegars are available at monastery festivals: the annual Christmas Craft Fair and the summertime Monastery Vinegar Festival.
The July 15/16 event will feature the monastery’s vinegars alongside other food products made from the bounty of the farm and gardens: tapenades, pestos, chutneys, apple butters, applesauce, relishes, dried herbs and tonics. There will also be plants, books and crafts and artwork from the monastery, local artisans and farmers. Cash and checks only are accepted.
Varieties of vinegar expected to be included in festival offerings include red, white and rosé wine vinegars as well as apricot, raspberry, sherry, apple cider and cider honey. But early arrival is recommended; last year’s festival was so well-attended, with several thousand visitors, the monastery ran out of several varieties and, eventually, out of bottles altogether.
The vinegar is made by a cadre of dedicated volunteers. The process begins at a slow boil as the base is infused with blends of fruit, herbs and spices. The liquid stands for 24 hours before being transferred into glass jars containing one or more “mothers” needed for fermentation. The “mother” is a viscous blob of cellulose, microorganisms and other sediment filtered out of a previous batch that converts the alcohol into acetic acid, turning wine into vinegar. As it repopulates itself, the mother can be reused indefinitely. (The monastery also sells mothers for those who wish to try the process for themselves.) The vinegar is then placed in a dark cellar at room temperature and allowed to brew naturally for eight months to a year, at minimum, to develop its full flavor.
Brother Victor began his monastic studies in Italy and Spain before taking a temporary life detour in 1966 to study Psychology at Columbia University in New York. He earned a Master’s degree there, but then resumed the life of a monk in Cold Spring. He co-founded Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery in 1977 and has lived there since. He is also a prolific cookbook author who has sold millions of copies of books featuring simple recipes from the monastic life, including The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking: Essential Meatless Recipes for the Home Cook and Twelve Months of Monastery Salads.
Recently Brother Victor offered one of his recipes to a blog maintained by the Sisters of the Community of Jesus, who collect recipes from all over the world for their Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen. Brother Victor’s recipe “Oranges for St. Benedict’s Day” honors Saint Benedict, considered the founder of Western monasticism. The simple dish celebrates his principle of “moderation in all things.”
Oranges for St. Benedict’s Day
6 navel oranges
1 cup diced candied fruit mix
½ cup kirsch
½ cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Cut the oranges evenly in half and, using a spoon, carefully remove the pulp from the inside, keeping the shells intact. Remove the seeds and cut the pulp into tiny pieces. Place in a deep bowl.
Add the candied fruit, kirsch and sugar to the orange pulp. Mix well and fill the orange shells with this mixture.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.
Monastery Vinegar Festival, Saturday/Sunday, July 15/16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free, Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery, 246 Barmore Road, Lagrangeville; www.ourladyoftheresurrectionmanastery.webs.com.