Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kennedy: There may be maggots

Author: Diana Kennedy
Book: From My Mexican Kitchen
Recipes: banana vinegar, pineapple vinegar 

I've always wanted to make vinegar, but the recipes have made it look harder than I was up for, requiring trips to a winemaking shop, mothers, jugs, airlocks, crocks.

Diana Kennedy, however, offers several recipes for vinegar that involve no special materials. They also look like recipes written by an insane person, but I have now started both. 

Banana vinegar. You slit the skins of overripe bananas, put them in a colander over a bowl, drape with cheesecloth, leave in a "very warm" place until the fruit emits all its juices. "Turn the mass over from time to time and gently press down to extract the liquid," Kennedy writes. "Lots of little flies will swarm around because of fermentation." Within several weeks there will be a cloudy fluid that you mix with crushed piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) and continue to ferment. Kennedy insists it is delicious. 

Pineapple vinegar. This involves placing the peelings of a pineapple in a jar with water and pounded piloncillo. Macerate. This seems more reasonable than the banana vinegar, until: "If things don't go according to order, small white maggots will float on the top (they may anyway.) Strain the liquid, and if it doesn't become acidic within a month, throw it away and start again."

Rick Bayless would never write recipes like these, and despite their obvious grotesqueness and the fact that I doubt they will work, I love these recipes. I hope they work. I can always bake banana bread, but a way to make use of pineapple peel is on a par with watermelon rind pickle.


  1. Hmmm... Any recipe that mentions maggots as an expected presence would not make it onto my to-do pile. You're very brave!

    About the turkeys - I'd recommend sticking with chickens. Not only are turkeys dumber, they smell worse. (Based on my subjective observations during 4th grade, when we had, in turn, chicken, turkey, quail and duck eggs hatching in the classroom. On the stink scale, quail were worst, chickens least odorous, turkeys and ducks in the middle of the scale.)

  2. Stink could be a problem. The chickens are essentially odorless -- at least when they're not in a cage in the house. But we can not have smelly animals.

  3. Maggots lend the whole thing a delightful earthy authenticity. I think I'll try it next time we have overripe bananas. I had delicious homemade cherry compote in Krakow once, and the maggots floating in it seemed a small price.

  4. I have such a fascination for watermelon rind pickles. I've always and ever wanted to eat them, but nobody around here knows what I'm talking about.

  5. I have a bad childhood memory of eating watermelon at my great aunt's condo and having her fish the chewed on watermelon rinds from the trash for pickling. No thank you!