Arengga Vinegar is made from a variety of sugar palm tree (Arenga pinnata) called “kaong” or ” irok” in the Philippines.
The tree needs 10 to 15 years of growth first. It will live for 15 to 22 years in the wild (it has a shorter life in cultivation.)
The vinegar is made from the sap of the male flowering stalks, which take a few months to grow. The flowers are tapped when they bloom by cutting the stalks. The cut will produce sweet sap in morning, sour at the end of the day.
The sap is collected manually by climbing the trees to get at it. The sap has to be collected every day, or production will stop.
The sap is allowed to ferment 3 to 4 weeks covered in clay jars called “burnay jars” covered by cheesecloth to keep it clean, and coconut leaves to keep excess heat off the jar. Then it is aged about 8 weeks, then bottled. Nothing else is added to it, not even water.
Arengga Vinegar was made just for household consumption. Now, one company (as of 2006), Bote Central Inc. in Cavite province is making it commercially.
It is sold in frosted bottles. There are two versions. 1 is straight up, and has a sweet-sour taste. The other has Rosemary steeped in it.
Can be used as an ingredient in mixed drinks, with honey and ice, or with an alcohol such as vodka.
Called “sukang irok” in Philippino.
Vincente, Jonathan. Arenga vinegar: Not just a business but a social cause. The Manila Times. Tuesday, 20 May 2003.