Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria.. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional vinegars, and fermentation proceeds slowly over the course of weeks or months. The longer fermentation period allows for the accumulation of a nontoxic slime composed of acetic acid bacteria. Fast methods add mother of vinegar (i.e., bacterial culture) to the source liquid before adding air using a venturi pump system or a turbine to promote oxygenation to obtain the fastest fermentation. In fast production processes, vinegar may be produced in a period ranging from 20 hours to three days.
Malt vinegar is made by malting barley, causing the starch in the grain to turn to maltose. Then an ale is brewed from the maltose and allowed to turn into vinegar, which is then aged. It is typically light brown in color.
Wine vinegar is made from red or white wine, and is the most commonly used vinegar in Mediterranean countries and Central Europe. As with wine, there is a considerable range in quality. Better quality wine vinegars are matured in wood for up to two years, and exhibit a complex, mellow flavor. Wine vinegar tends to have a lower acidity than that of white or cider vinegars. More expensive wine vinegars are made from individual varieties of wine, such as Champagne, sherry, or pinot grigio.
Production of sherry vinegar is linked to the production of wines of Jerez. The vinegar is made exclusively from the acetic fermentation of Sherry wines; the taste of this vinegar is stronger than wine. The resulting color of this vinegar is dark mahogany, it's concentrated and has generous aromas; the nose will notice the hue of wood. Sherry vinegar is ideal for vinaigrettes and salad dressings and for flavoring various foods.
There is evidence of its existence back in the first century after Christ, in the writings of Cadiz wiseman Columella. It is currently presented with quality products certified by the government of Andalusia and its production is regulated by the Consejo Regular del Vino y Brandy de Jerez (Council regulating the production of Jerez wine and brandy). Two types are found: "Vinagre de Jerez", which is aged for six months or "Vinagre de Jerez Reserva", which is aged for a minimum of two years (although the Council allows to specify the age if this is greater, and vinegar 20 or 30 years can old be found).
Apple cider vinegar, otherwise known simply as cider vinegar or ACV, is made from cider or apple must, and has a brownish-yellow color. It often is sold unfiltered and unpasteurized with the mother of vinegar present, as a natural product. Because of its acidity, apple cider vinegar may be very harsh, even burning, to the throat. If taken straight, (as opposed to used in cooking), it can be diluted (e.g., with fruit juice or water) before drinking. It is also sometimes sweetened with sugar or honey. There have been reports of acid chemical burns of the throat from apple cider vinegar tablets, but doubt remains as to whether apple cider vinegar was in fact an ingredient in the evaluated products. The pH of apple cider vinegar is typically between pH 4.25 - 5.00 if undiluted.
Fruit vinegars are made from fruit wines, usually without any additional flavoring. Common flavors of fruit vinegar include apple, blackcurrant, raspberry, quince, and tomato. Typically, the flavors of the original fruits remain in the final product.
Most fruit vinegars are produced in Europe, where there is a growing market for high-priced vinegars made solely from specific fruits (as opposed to nonfruit vinegars which are infused with fruits or fruit flavors). Several varieties, however, also are produced in Asia. Persimmon vinegar, called gam sikcho (감식초), is popular in South Korea. Jujube vinegar photo, called zaocu or hongzaocu (simplified Chinese: 枣醋 / 红枣醋; traditional Chinese: 醋紅 / 紅棗醋), and wolfberry vinegar photo, called gouqicu (Chinese: 枸杞醋), are produced in China.
Balsamic vinegar is an aromatic, aged type of vinegar traditionally crafted in the Modena and Reggio Emilia provinces of Italy from the concentrated juice, or must, of white grapes (typically of the Trebbiano variety). It is very dark brown in color, and its flavor is rich, sweet, and complex, with the finest grades being the product of years of aging in a successive number of casks made of various types of wood (including oak, mulberry, chestnut, cherry, juniper, ash, and acacia). Originally a product available to only the Italian upper classes, a cheaper form of balsamic vinegar became widely known and available around the world in the late 20th century. True balsamic vinegar (which has Protected Designation of Origin status) is aged for 12 to 25 years. Balsamic vinegars that have been aged for up to 100 years are available, though they are usually very expensive. The commercial balsamic sold in supermarkets is typically made with concentrated grape juice mixed with a strong vinegar, which is laced with caramel and sugar. Regardless of how it is produced, balsamic vinegar must be made from a grape product.
Balsamic vinegar has a high acidity level, but the tart flavor is usually hidden by the sweetness of the other ingredients, making it very mellow.
Rice vinegar is most popular in the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia. It is available in "white" (light yellow), red, and black varieties. The Japanese prefer a light rice vinegar for the preparation of sushi rice and salad dressings. Red rice vinegar traditionally is colored with red yeast rice. Black rice vinegar (made with black glutinous rice) is most popular in China, and it is also widely used in other East Asian countries.
White rice vinegar has a mild acidity and a somewhat "flat", uncomplex flavor. Some varieties of rice vinegar are sweetened or otherwise seasoned with spices or other added flavorings.
Coconut vinegar, made from fermented coconut water, is used extensively in Southeast Asian cuisine (particularly in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, major producers, where it is called suka ng niyog or vinakiri), as well as in some cuisines of India. A cloudy white liquid, it has a particularly sharp, acidic taste with a slightly yeasty note.
Palm vinegar, made from the fermented sap from flower clusters of the nipa palm (also called attap palm), is used most often in the Philippines, where it is produced, and where it is called sukang paombong. Its pH is between five and six.
Cane vinegar, made from sugar cane juice, is most popular in the Philippines, in particular, the Ilocos Region of the northern Philippines (where it is called sukang iloko), although it also is produced in France and the United States. It ranges from dark yellow to golden brown in color, and has a mellow flavor, similar in some respects, to rice vinegar, though with a somewhat "fresher" taste. Contrary to expectation, containing no residual sugar, it is not sweeter than other vinegars. In the Philippines, it often is labeled as sukang maasim, although this is simply a generic term meaning "sour vinegar".
Cane vinegars from Ilocos also varies in two different types: basi (sweet) and suka (sour). The sweet vinegar is used as a wine in Ilokanos, while the other type of vinegar is used as a seasoning and preservative.
A white variation has become quite popular in Brazil in recent years, where it is the cheapest type of vinegar sold. It is now common for other types of vinegar (made from wine, rice and apple cider) to be sold mixed with cane vinegar to lower the costs.
Vinegar made from raisins, called khall ʻinab (Arabic: خل عنب "grape vinegar") is used in cuisines of the Middle East, and is produced there. It is cloudy and medium brown in color, with a mild flavor.
Vinegar made from dates is a traditional product of the Middle East.
Vinegar made from beer is produced in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. Although its flavor depends on the particular type of beer from which it is made, it is often described as having a malty taste. That produced in Bavaria is a light golden color with a very sharp and not-overly-complex flavor.
East Asian black
Chinese black vinegar is an aged product made from rice, wheat, millet, sorghum, or a combination thereof. It has an inky black color and a complex, malty flavor. There is no fixed recipe, so some Chinese black vinegars may contain added sugar, spices, or caramel color. The most popular variety, Zhenjiang vinegar (鎮江香醋), originated in the city of Zhenjiang, in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, China and also is produced in Tianjin and Hong Kong.
A somewhat lighter form of black vinegar, made from rice, also is produced in Japan, where it is called kurozu. Since 2004, it has been marketed as a healthful drink; its manufacturers claim it contains high concentrations of amino acids. Recent research on kurozu has revealed its anticancer properties in vivo on rats and in vitro on human cancer cells.
Popular fruit-flavored vinegars include those infused with whole raspberries, blueberries, or figs (or else from flavorings derived from these fruits). Some of the more exotic fruit-flavored vinegars include blood orange and pear.
Herb vinegars are flavored with herbs, most commonly Mediterranean herbs, such as thyme, tarragon or oregano. Such vinegars can be prepared at home by adding sprigs of fresh or dried herbs to vinegar purchased at a grocery store; generally a light-colored, mild tasting vinegar, such as that made from white wine, is used for this purpose.
Sweetened vinegar is of Cantonese origin, and is made from rice wine, sugar and herbs, including ginger, cloves, and other spices.
In Japan, an aged vinegar also is made from Job's tears, a tall, grain-bearing, tropical plant. The vinegar is similar in flavor to rice vinegar.
Kombucha vinegar is made from kombucha, a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria. The bacteria produce a complex array of nutrients and populate the vinegar with bacteria which some claim promotes a healthy digestive tract, although no scientific studies have confirmed this. Kombucha vinegar primarily is used to make a vinaigrette, and is flavored by adding strawberries, blackberries, mint, or blueberries at the beginning of fermentation.
A byproduct of commercial kiwifruit growing is a large amount of waste in the form of firstly misshapen or otherwise rejected fruit that may constitute up to 30 per cent of the crop and secondly kiwifruit pomace which is the presscake residue left after kiwifruit juice manufacture. One of the uses for this waste is the production of kiwifruit vinegar, produced commercially in New Zealand since, at least, the early 1990s, and in China in 2008.
Any type of vinegar may be distilled to produce a colorless solution of about 5% to 8% acetic acid in water. This is variously known as distilled spirit or "virgin" vinegar, or white vinegar, and is used for medicinal, laboratory and cleaning purposes, as well as in cooking, baking, meat preservation, and pickling. The most common starting material, because of its low cost, is malt vinegar.
Vinegar is commonly used in food preparation, particularly in pickling processes, vinaigrettes, and other salad dressings. It is an ingredient in sauces such as mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Vinegar is sometimes used while making chutneys. It is often used as a condiment. Marinades often contain vinegar.
- Condiment for beetroot — cold, cooked beetroot is commonly eaten with vinegar
- Condiment for fish and chips — in the UK and Ireland, salt and malt vinegar (or non-brewed condiment) is sprinkled on chips.
- Flavoring for potato chips — many American, Canadian and British manufacturers of packaged potato chips and crisps feature a variety flavored with vinegar and salt.
- Vinegar pie — a North American variant on the dessert called chess pie. It is flavored with a small amount of cider vinegar and some versions also contain raisins, spices and sour cream.
- Pickling — any vinegar can be used to pickle foods.
- Cider vinegar and sauces — cider vinegar usually is not suitable for use in delicate sauces.
- Apple cider vinegar - Usually placed on the table in small bowls or cups so that people can dip their crab meat into it. Also mixed with water and used to steam crabs.
- Substitute for fresh lemon juice — cider vinegar can usually be substituted for fresh lemon juice in recipes and obtain a pleasing effect although it lacks the vitamin C.
- Saucing roast lamb — pouring cider vinegar over the meat when roasting lamb, especially when combined with honey or when sliced onions have been added to the roasting pan, produces a sauce.
- Sweetened vinegar is used in the dish of pork knuckles and ginger stew which is made among Chinese people of Cantonese backgrounds to celebrate the arrival of a new child.
- Sushi rice — Japanese use rice vinegar as an essential ingredient for sushi rice.
- Red vinegar — Sometimes used in Chinese soups
- Flavoring — used in the Southern U.S. to flavor collard greens, green beans, black-eyed peas, or cabbage to taste.
- Commonly put into mint sauce, for general palate preference.
- Vinegar — especially the coconut, cane, or palm variety — is one of the principal ingredients of Philippine cuisine.
- White vinegar can be used as flavoring in ham and beans
Many remedies and treatments have been ascribed to vinegar over millennia and in many different cultures, however, few have been verifiable using controlled medical trials and many that are effective to some degree have significant side effects and carry the possibility of serious health risks.
Soothing for sunburns
White vinegar applied as a spray to tissue draped over a sunburn helps restore the lost acidic level to the skin, and gives a cooling effect.
Possible cholesterol and triacylglycerol effects
A 2006 study concluded that a test group of rats fed with acetic acid (the main component of vinegar) had "significantly lower values for serum total cholesterol and triacylglycerol", among other health benefits. Rats fed vinegar or acetic acid have lower blood pressure than controls, although the effect has not been tested in humans. Reduced risk of fatal ischemic heart disease was observed among participants in a trial who ate vinegar and oil salad dressings frequently.
Blood glucose control and diabetic management
Prior to hypoglycemic agents, diabetics used vinegar teas to control their symptoms. Small amounts of vinegar (approximately 25 g of domestic vinegar) added to food, or taken along with a meal, have been shown by a number of medical trials to reduce the glycemic index of carbohydrate food for people with and without diabetes. This also has been expressed as lower glycemic index ratings in the region of 30%.
Multiple trials indicate that taking vinegar with food increases satiety (the feeling of fullness) and so, reduces the amount of food consumed. Daily intake of 15 ml of vinegar (750 mg AcOH) might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.
Vinegar has been used to fight infections since Hippocrates, who lived between 460-377 BC, prescribed it for curing persistent coughs. As a result, vinegar is popularly believed to be effective against infections.
Researchers at the Food Biotechnology Department, Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC) in Seville, Spain, conducted research on the antimicrobial activity of several food products, among them olive oil, and vinegar. The following microorganisms were used in the study: S. aureus, L. monocytogenes, S. Enteritidis, E.coli 0157:H7, S. sonnei and Yersinia sp. Of the products tested, vinegar (5% acetic acid) and olive oil showed the strongest bactericidal activity against all strains tested, which was attributed to their high acetic acid content and high phenolic compounds content, respectively.
See cleaning uses for further references regarding antimicrobial use.
Other medicinal uses
Applying vinegar to common jellyfish stings deactivates the nematocysts; however, placing the affected areas in hot water is a more effective treatment because the venom is deactivated by heat. The latter requires immersion in 45 °C (113 °F) water for at least four minutes for the pain to be reduced to less than what would be accomplished using vinegar. But vinegar should not be applied to Portuguese man o' war stings, however, since they are not actually jellyfish and vinegar can cause their nematocysts to discharge venom, making the pain worse. Vinegar is often used as a natural deodorant, mainly because of its antibacterial effect. Diluted vinegar can also be used as a hair conditioner and detangler by pouring over wet hair and rinsing. No vinegar smell remains after hair has been rinsed and dried.
Esophageal injury by apple cider vinegar tablets has been reported, and because vinegar products sold for medicinal purposes are neither regulated nor standardized, they vary widely in content, pH, and other respects. Long-term heavy vinegar ingestion may also cause hypokalemia, hyperreninemia, and osteoporosis.
Cervical cancer screening tool
Diluted vinegar 3% to 5%, has also been tested as an effective screening tool for cervical cancer. Vinegar changes the color of affected tissue to white, making diagnosis by inspection possible, reducing in 35% the mortality for early detection against control group.
Vinegar in Islamic medicine
The Islamic prophet Muhammad is reported to have said, "The best of condiments or condiment is vinegar." Avicenna, in his famous book The Canon of Medicine, mentions several beneficial medicinal uses for vinegar: it is a powerful clotting agent, it heals burns and skin inflammations, and it relieves headaches caused by heat. He also considers vinegar a good digestive supplement. Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya also mentions the merits of vinegar in his book, Al Tibb al Nabawi (The Prophetic Medicine). In this book, he mentions that wine vinegar helps against gastric inflammation and bile, and prevents the effects of toxic medications and poisonous mushrooms. He also notes that vinegar quenches thirst, acts as an appetite stimulant, and prevents tumors from occurring. It helps the digestion process.
White vinegar is often used as a household cleaning agent. Because it is acidic, it can dissolve mineral deposits from glass, coffee makers, and other smooth surfaces. For most uses, dilution with water is recommended for safety and to avoid damaging the surfaces being cleaned.
Vinegar is an excellent solvent for cleaning epoxy resin and hardener, even after the epoxy has begun to harden. Malt vinegar sprinkled onto crumpled newspaper is a traditional, and still-popular, method of cleaning grease-smeared windows and mirrors in the UK. Vinegar can be used for polishing brass or bronze. Vinegar is widely known as an effective cleaner of stainless steel and glass.
Vinegar, historically, has been reputed to have strong antibacterial properties. One test by Good Housekeeping's microbiologist found that 5% vinegar is 90% effective against mold and 99.9% effective against bacteria, while another study linked with Clorox and Lysol showed vinegar to be too weak or inconsistent for it to be used effectively as a disinfectant.
Vinegar has been marketed as an environmentally-friendly solution for many household cleaning problems. For example, vinegar has been cited recently as an eco-friendly urine cleaner for pets and as a weed killer.
Agricultural and horticultural uses
Most commercial vinegar solutions available to consumers for household use do not exceed 5%. Stronger solutions are available from some retailers, but it should be noted that solutions of 10% and above require careful handling, because they are corrosive and damaging to the skin.
When a bottle of vinegar is opened, mother of vinegar may develop. It is considered harmless and can be removed by filtering.
Vinegar eels (Turbatrix aceti), a form of nematode that has cells that are air-borne, may occur in some forms of vinegar unless the vinegar is kept covered. These feed on the mother of vinegar and can occur in naturally fermenting vinegar. This is the reason vinegar condiment jars have tightly-fitting stoppers. Most manufacturers filter and pasteurize their product before bottling to eliminate any potential adulteration, although they are harmless when ingested.
When vinegar is added to sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), it produces a volatile mixture which rapidly decomposes into water, carbon dioxide and sodium acetate, which makes the reaction fizz. It is often used to illustrate typical acid-base reactions in school science experiments.
Some countries prohibit the selling of vinegar over a certain percentage acidity. As an example, the government of Canada limits the acetic acid of vinegars to between 4.1% and 12.3%.
According to legend, in France during the Black Plague, four thieves were able to rob houses of plague victims without being infected themselves. When finally caught, the Judge offered to grant the men their freedom, on the condition that they revealed how they managed to stay healthy. They claimed that a medicine woman sold them a potion made of garlic soaked in soured red wine (vinegar). Variants of the recipe, called Four Thieves Vinegar, have been passed down for hundreds of years and are a staple of New Orleans hoodoo practices.
Vinegar (acetic acid) is sometimes used in place of fruit juice (citric acid) or muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) to convert freebase cocaine into Cocaine acetate, which is a salt form readily soluble in water, in stark contrast to the freebase form.
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