Vinegar is a thin, sour liquid used for thousands of years as a preservative, cooking ingredients, condiments, and cleaning solution. Vinegar is obtain through the fermentation of wine or other alcoholic liquid. Bacteria eat the alcohol, turning it into acetic acid. No alcohol will remain when the transformation is complete. The quality of vinegar depends on the quality of wine or liquid used. Vinegar flavours are varied as the liquids from which they are made.
Vinegar should be clear and clean looking, never cloudy or muddy. Commercial vinegar is pasteurized and unopened should last indefinitely. Opened vinegars can last upto three months if tightly capped. Any sediments that develops can be strained out and if mold develops, discard the vinegar.
Types of Vinegars
1. Wine Vinegar
Wine vinegar is as old as wine itself. They can be made from red wine, white wine, sherry or champagne. They should have the color and flavour of the wine that it was made from. Wine vinegars are prefferred in French and Menditerranean cuisines.
2. Malt Vinegar
Malt vinegar is produced from malted barley. iT has a slightly sweet, mild flavor and is used as a condiment, especially with fried foods.
3. Distilled Vinegar
Distilled vinegar is made from grain alcohol, is completely clear, with a stronger vinegary flavour and higher acid content than other vinegars. It is preferred for pickling and preserving.
4. Cider Vinegar
Cider vinegar is produced from unpasteurized apple juice or cider. It is pale brown in color with mild acidity and fruity aroma. Cider vinegar is particularly popular in North America.
5. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is a clear, slightly sweet product brewed from rice wine. Its flavor is clean and elegant, making it useful in a variety of dishes.
6. Flavoured Vinegar
Flavoured vinegar are simply traditionally vinegar’s in which herbs, spice, fruits or other foods are steeped to infuse their flavours. They are produced quite easily from commercial wine or distilled vinegar’s, using any herb, spice or fruit desired. The use of flavoured vinegar’s is extremely popular but not new. Clove, raspberry, and fennel vinegar’s were sold on the streets of Paris in the 13th century.Making fruit-flavoured vinegar’s was also the responsibilities of housewives in the 18th and 19th century.
7. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is newly popular in North America though it has been made in Italy for more than 800 years. To produce balsamic vinegar, red vinegar is aged in a succession of wooden barrels made from variety of woods such a Oak, cherry, Locust, Ash, Mulberry, and Juniper for at lest 4 but sometimes up to 50, years. The resulting liquid is dark reddish-brown and sweet. Balsamic has a high acidic level, but the sweetness covers the tart flavour making it a very mellow flavor. True balsamic vinegar is extremely expensive due to the long ageing process and the small quantities available.Most of the commercial products imported from Italy are not made by a quick caramalization and flavouring process. Balsamic is excellent as a condiment and has a remarkable affinity for tomatoes and strawberries.