Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about vinegar. It is necessary in making pickles, mustard, chutneys and marinades, and is used medicinally as well as being used for a household cleanser. In researching vinegar on Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia, there were over 17 million sites that I could have looked at.
The word “vinegar” comes from the Old French vin aigre, meaning, “sour wine”. It is named this, because over 10,000 years ago, vinegar was “discovered” when a cask of wine, gone past its time, had turned sour. Wine is not the only thing that vinegar comes from. It is produced from many other sugar-containing products, including fruit and rice. It is a sour-tasting liquid made from the oxidation of ethanol in wine, cider, beer, fermented fruit juice, or nearly any other liquid containing alcohol.
Normally commercially available vinegar has a pH of about 2.4.
There are many different types of vinegar. Fruit vinegars are made from fruit wines without any additional flavoring. Most common flavors include black currant, raspberry and quince. Generally, the flavors of the original fruits can still be tasted in the final vinegar.
Malt vinegar is made by malting barley, causing the starch in the grain to turn to maltose. Ale is then brewed from the maltose and allowed to turn into vinegar, which is then aged. Americans, Australians, Britons and Canadians most commonly use malt vinegar on fish and chips.
Wine vinegar is made either from red or white wine, and is most commonly used in Mediterranean countries, Germany and other countries. As with wine, there is a wide range in quality. Better quality wine vinegars are matured in wood for up to two years and have a complex, mellow flavor.
Apple cider vinegar, frequently known simply as cider vinegar, is made from cider or apple must, and is often sold unfiltered, with a brownish-yellow color; it often contains mother of vinegar. At the present time, it is very popular, in part due to it alleged health and beauty benefits. Cider vinegar is not usually suitable for light sauces, but is excellent for marinades. It is used to make vinegar pie and to pickle foods. It will darken light fruits and vegetables.
The shelf life of vinegar is almost indefinite. Because of its acid nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration. White vinegar will remain virtually unchanged over an extended period of time. Some changes can be observed in other types of vinegar, such as color change or the development of a haze or sediment, this is only an aesthetic change. The product can still be used with confidence. It is best to store vinegar, airtight in a cool, dark place.
Vinegar can be a potent, inexpensive and environment-friendly cleaning agent. White vinegar is generally recommended when vinegar is being used as a cleaning fluid.
A few tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with a few teaspoons of common table salt makes an excellent cleanser for the cleaning of badly stained stainless steel cookware. This vinegar and salt mixture can also remove oxidation from copper-clad cookware and make it shine with practically no rubbing required.
Using a combination of vinegar and baking soda can clean drains. Pour 100g of baking soda down the drain, followed by 100ml of white vinegar. Allow to sit for a while and then cover the drain while it works, then pour a tea kettle of boiling water down the drain. This is a good way to prevent build-up in the drain. Equal parts of vinegar and ammonia is a really great solution for washing windows, and also for cleaning the cooking fumes deposit from woodwork.
Add 200ml of vinegar to an empty dishwasher and run through the washing cycle to remove mineral deposits and odors. You can also put it in the rinse dispenser instead of commercial rinse aid products.
If your showerhead is corroded with lime deposits and you cannot remove it, place vinegar in a plastic bag, fasten the bag to the showerhead and allow to sit over night. The next morning scrub the showerhead with a brush and the lime deposits should be gone. If the showerhead is removable, simply soak over night in a bowl of vinegar.
A bowl of vinegar left sitting on top of the refrigerator or some place else out of the way, will remove cooking odors from the kitchen or the smell of smoke from cigarettes from the house.
Our grandmothers used a solution of vinegar and water as a rinse to get the soap residue out of their hair. This is what we used when I was growing up, as commercial rinses were not always available. Remember, back then, soap was just that, it was soap, not detergent and the vinegar removed it!
Vinegar was used as a beverage in ancient Rome…diluted with water, it was a popular drink. In recent times, folks were drinking apple cider vinegar with some honey added as a health measure.
We all take vinegar for granted now, without ever thinking what it can be used for besides in a marinade or salad dressing, or making pickles. Years ago, when I used to make pickles for the family, I frequently made the four day type of sweet gherkins. An optional ingredient was 1/8 teaspoon vanilla that I usually left out since it was optional, however, one year my solution tasted really ‘vinegary’, because of my using stronger vinegar than usual. Guess what? When I added the vanilla, it smoothed the ‘vinegary’ taste right out of that solution. Also a tablespoon of vinegar added to the okra when you are making gumbo will take the ‘slimy’ right out of the okra. You also do not taste the vinegar in vinegar pie because of the vanilla that is one of the ingredients.
No Fail Pie crust
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 egg, well beaten (use a whisk, it’s quick)
5 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vinegar
Place flour and salt into large mixing bowl. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until the pieces are the size of small peas. Combine egg, water and vinegar; pour into flour mixture all at once. Blend with a spoon just until flour is all moistened. This is a really easy crust to handle and can be rerolled without toughening. Makes crusts for two to three pies, depending on size. Can be wrapped in foil for up to two weeks and stored in the refrigerator. For a single crust pie, roll out dough, place in pie plate, prick thoroughly with a fork and bake at 400ºF until golden brown.
This recipe for vinegar pie was given to me many years ago by the family of one of the nursing home residents when I was working there as Activity Director. It is very similar to buttermilk pie and absolutely delicious.
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten well,
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 unbaked pie shell
Cream together butter and sugar and add beaten eggs. Stir in vanilla and vinegar and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 300ºF for 10 minutes; increase heat of oven to 350ºF and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes. This makes a full pie. For a thin pie, bake mixture in two 9-inch shells. A family member of one of our residents gave this recipe to me when I was working at the nursing home; it is truly delicious, even though it sounds weird. It is very similar to a buttermilk pie or chess pie.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
½ cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon minced garlic (optional)
½ cup minus 2 TBS oil
Whisk all together to use.
This goes well on a tossed salad or a spinach salad and is very tasty.