Have you ever thought about vinegar and its uses? We all know it is used in pickling, but did you know it can be used in marinades to help tenderize meat, and it is a main ingredient in a vinaigrette salad dressing? It can be used to soak your showerhead to remove the mineral build-up, as well as to help remove spots from glasses or dinnerware which are caused by hot water, and it’s great for washing windows. It can be found in Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco®, steak sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce and picante sauce as well as salad dressings, and even in pie crusts, pie fillings, candy and cakes.
Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used it to make their fruit and vegetable pickles, and for preserving meats. (They also used it in a solution of water to rinse their hair after shampooing with soap, the vinegar rinse gave a shine to their hair).
Several years ago, I had a recipe for jerky that called for pre-boiling the meat in a water, vinegar and spice solution. It is an ingredient in Oriental sweet and sour dishes, as well as one of the main ingredients in the hot and sour soup you find on the menu in Oriental restaurants! You can use 1½ to 2 tablespoons added to a cup of milk to have sour milk for use in a cake recipe calling for buttermilk or sour milk.
Vinegar can be produced from almost any raw material that can be fermented to alcohol. The ones in most common use include malt, wine, dilute alcohol and fruit juices, particularly cider. Each gives vinegar a distinctive flavor because the characteristic flavoring materials originally present are retained or modified during fermentation. The acetic acid bacteria convert only alcohol to acetic acid, therefore, when fruit juices or other sugar containing materials are used, the sugar must first be fermented to alcohol. Usually there are wild yeasts in the fruit juice which will cause this change, but they vary in type and each produces different flavoring materials.
This vinegar pie was given to me by a family member of a resident of the nursing home when I worked there. Believe it or not, it is delicious.
Preheat oven to 350º.
1½ cups granulated sugar ¼ cup melted butter margarine
1½ tablespoons cider or white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, butter, vinegar and vanilla. Mix well and pour into pie shell; bake in preheated oven until firm, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool before serving.
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons Hershey’s® cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup water (out of the cold faucet)
Preheat oven to 350º.
Mix together the dry ingredients and sift into a 9×13 pan; make 3 “holes” in a triangle in the dry ingredients and in one put: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; in the second place 1 teaspoon vinegar; and in the last one place 5 Tbs. cooking oil. Pour the cup of water over everything and use a spoon to mix well.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Enjoy hot or cold, can be frosted if desired.
Marinated Onions and Cucumbers
2 large sweet onions
2 or 3 medium cucumbers
4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Peel onions and separate into rings, wash and slice cucumbers into thin slices, toss with remaining ingredients; refrigerate several hours or overnight. Serve cold.
Frank’s Barbecued Chicken
2 or 3 chickens cut into halves (or as many as you need for serving)
Salt and pepper
SOP (he always called it “sop” others may call it “mop”)
1 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup vinegar
2 to 3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place oil and vinegar in a pot; cut the lemon in half and juice it, keeping the shells in the pot. Add the salt and pepper, bring to a boil, place the chicken on the grill and baste frequently with the above mixture while it is cooking. Cook until the chicken is done, serve with barbecue sauce or not.
This same sop was used when any type of meat was cooked on a pit. Usually one dug into the ground and covered with wire. The meat was placed on it and cooked. When I was growing up, I didn’t realize that the “sop” that was used helped to tenderize the meat as well as give it flavor.