Culinarie Spotlight: Hilary Niver-Johnson of Fingerlakes Wine Flour

Wine flour is a fascinating product: crushed varietal grapes turned into a colorful, flavorful flour to add to your baked goods and other recipes. It’s packed full of nutritional benefits and let’s be honest… it just looks cool. We asked Hilary from Fingerlakes Wine Flour a few questions about her product and her start in the industry to get a little background on this unique ingredient.

Pssst: There will be wine flour in April’s box! Reserve yours now.

If your food had a mission statement, what would it be?
To change tradition with nutrition, flavor and color.

With all of the gluten free flour varieties on the market today, what sets Finger Lakes Wine Flour apart?
Finger Lakes Wine Flour is a baking and cooking supplement–not a substitute–meant to add flavor, color and nutrition to any and all recipes. Being a supplemental gluten free flour is what ultimately sets Wine Flour apart from the rest. However, it’s color and nutritional properties are also key elements to what set our Wine Flour apart- many gluten free flours lack protein and are still extremely high in carbohydrates. Lucky for us and those that use it, Wine flour is half the carb grams of normal flour. In each pound of Wine Flour you have 100 grams of protein, 150 grams of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that will help gluten free cooking be more nutritionally balanced.

How did you find yourself in the culinary world?
Ultimately, I came into the culinary world at a very young age–since I was able to legally work I have worked in the food service industry. This industry allowed my passion for food to be satiated with culinary delights from some of the best chefs in New York State. Being from the Finger Lakes we are blessed with so many fantastic local producers and food artisans. I never thought that I would be able to help satiate the appetite of others until a few years ago when I started producing this amazing, colorful, flavorful and unique product. My passion for renewable energy was quickly trumped by my growing passion to create local gourmet food products and dishes. Now, sustainably produced and delicious food is all I think about.

What is your personal favorite variety of wine flour and dish to make with it?
Oh gosh, my personal favorite Wine Flour–it’s so hard to choose! Each year their flavors and colors change slightly due to the different growing seasons. I can narrow it down to my top three: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer.

This year our Cabernet Franc has more aromas and flavors of strawberries than I’ve ever noticed in the past- each Cabernet Franc mill session leaves our facility smelling of this fresh fruit and I can’t wait to whip up some strawberry rhubarb pie, cheesecake and strawberry white bean burgers when strawberry season hits! (Ed. note: Hint hint.)

Pinot Noir is different that all the other red wine flour varieties we produce–its color is a light lavender as opposed to a red/purple. The reason being is we have to make sure almost 100% of the seeds are separated out before we mill – seeds would turn its color to various shades of brown and you wouldn’t be able to taste its vibrant sour cherry flavor. We love making sour cherry pie with Pinot Noir and are hoping that some local restaurants will start making a gluten free pulled pork sauce with it! Mmm.

Gewurztraminer–If you’ve ever had gewuztraminer wine (and if you haven’t you need to) this wine flour almost exactly mimics those flavors of spicy and floral – we love pairing it with fried chicken, spicy homemade truffles, cupcakes and cayenne.

If you could have one celebrity chef use your flours in a recipe, who would you pick?
I am a huge Gordon Ramsey fan- he is so frightening but hilarious and tells it how it is. We all need a little of that in our lives.

And now, one just for fun: tell our readers your favorite wine-themed joke.
Not an original but makes me laugh every time:

Me: I love you.
You: Is that you or the wine talking?
Me: It’s me talking to the wine.