Thursday, 22 October 2009 | Tags: , , , , ,

There's much to know about vinegar, from plain white to red wine to apple cider, they have many uses, both cooking and other household duties. Here's what we've learned about different vinegars through our research for our series Anna and Kristina's Grocery Bag.

Red Wine Vinegar

  • As the name suggests, red wine vinegar is made from red wine and the better the wine, the better the vinegar will be.

  • The acidic taste of red wine vinegar is a popular accompaniment to foods of a matching color.

  • Specialty vinegars in the more expensive range will undoubtedly taste the best. Mid-priced products are also recommended. Be cautious with the lower end of wine vinegars, however. They may not be as pure as their priciest counterparts.

  • Red wine vinegar lasts a very long time, especially if refrigerated.

  • Over time, it may turn cloudy or show sediment but this doesn’t affect the flavor.

  • In rare instances, harmless bacteria may cause a reaction resulting in a white, mucous type of growth. In vinegar terms, this is known as “mother.” Remove it by straining and add a little red wine to improve the depth of flavor.

White Wine Vinegar

  • White wine vinegar is made from white wines such as Chardonnay and sparkling wines such as Champagne.

  • Good-quality white wine vinegar has a mellow, rounded taste and is aged for several months in wooden barrels.

  • Cheaper varieties are produced quickly by brewing white wine with vinegar-soaked beechwood shavings. They tend to have a sharp, tart taste.

  • It is obtained by the natural fermentation of white wine and ranges in colour from clear white to pale yellow, depending on which wine is used.

Champagne Vinegar

  • Champagne vinegar is made from Champagne stock, the wine before it undergoes its second fermentation to produce bubbles.

  • It has a pale colour and delicate flavour with toasty, yeasty notes.

  • These make elegant substitutes for white wine vinegar or a delicate base for fruit-infused vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Apple cider vinegar is a medicinal solution with a long history, stretching back thousands of years to ancient Egypt and beyond.

  • Health benefits include weight loss, increased energy, dandruff treatment, increased blood circulation, and treatment of arthritis.

  • It’s made simply by fermenting apple juice and allowing oxygen to permeate the mixture, breaking the alcohol down into acetic acid, the characteristic ‘vinegar’ sharpness.

  • Apple cider vinegar is a versatile cooking ingredient, used to make sauces, marinades, add a punch to cocktail drinks, and more.

  • It’s a tan to dark liquid that is watery and not viscous, sold in plastic and glass bottles.

  • Choose a vinegar that appears clear and light-coloured. Don’t worry if there’s a bit of sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

Rice Vinegar

  • Rice wine is made by a fermentation process involving yeast that transforms the sugars from glutinous rice into alcohol. To make rice vinegar, the fermentation process goes one step further by adding bacteria to turn the alcohol into an acid.

  • Black rice vinegar is made with glutinous or sweet rice, although millet or sorghum may be used instead.

    • Dark in color, it has a deep, almost smoky flavor.

    • Black rice vinegar works well in braised dishes and as a dipping sauce.

    • It can also serve as a substitute for balsamic vinegar.

  • Red Rice Vinegar is dark colored, but lighter than black rice vinegar.

    • It is an intriguing combination of tart and sweet and can be used as a substitute for black vinegar – just add a bit of sugar.

    • It makes a very good dipping sauce, and you can also use it in noodle, soup and seafood dishes.

  • White Rice Vinegar is a colorless liquid, higher in vinegar content, and more similar in flavor to regular vinegar (though still less acidic and milder in flavour).

    • It contains a hint of sweetness that comes from the glutinous rice.

    • White rice vinegar is the best choice for sweet and sour dishes, stir fries, and for pickling vegetables.

  • If the label says “Seasoned Rice Vinegar”, sugar has been added.

Sherry Vinegar

  • Made like sherry from a blend of different wines, authentic sherry vinegar comes from Spain and is fermented for years in a series of increasingly smaller oak barrels.

  • This long aging process and artisan technique commands a higher price tag than most other vinegars.

  • A dark, intensely-flavored vinegar with a sweet finish, sherry vinegar is used like fine balsamic to add a gourmet touch to dishes

  • It can be substituted with red wine vinegar in a pinch.

  • When buying sherry vinegar, look on the label for the symbol shown to verify that it was produced by registered bodegas.

  • There are two types of sherry vinegar: vinagre de Jerez, which is aged at least six months, and vinagre de Jerez reserva, which must be aged for at least two years but is often aged much longer, sometimes as many as 30 years.

  • Like all vinegars, sherry vinegar will keep quite awhile if kept in a cool, dry place away from light and heat.


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