What is vinegar?: Page 1
It is ironic to think that in today's modern world we still find use for a product that was discovered, completely by accident, over 10,000 years ago. Deriving from the French word 'vinaigre' meaning sour wine it's life started literally from a barrel of 'gone off' wine.
Vinegar has had quite a wide-ranging existence through the ages. It is mentioned in the bible for it’s soothing and healing properties. Believe it or not, Hannibal used it to help clear his way across the Alps. Boulders were heated and then doused in vinegar, this allowed them to be cracked and moved out of the way. In World War I, vinegar was used extensively for the treatment of wounds on the battlefield.
Today the process of production of vinegar has little changed from the basic principles of fermentation of sugar to alcohol and then a secondary fermentation to form vinegar. The first process is the natural chemical reaction between certain yeasts and naturally occurring sugars. The end result of this process is alcohol. Then the alcohol is taken through a secondary fermentation, this time reacting with specially selected naturally occurring bacteria. It is this acetic or acid fermentation that gives us the end result, Vinegar. If you decide to have a go at making your own vinegar, be careful, you may end up with a vinegar product, which will be great for dressings or short-term use however it may not have the correct level of acidity to preserve items for pickling and other long-term usages.
Our choice to use vinegar in our daily applications has become a conscious choice; the reason behind this is that vinegar can be made from any type of fruit or naturally occurring sugar. In general, the vinegar we buy today falls into four main categories:
Last update 14th August 2010