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tip Stock your pantry using our vinegar roundup




Tips and Techniques


Its sourness may make your lips pucker, but vinegar has had a place in the kitchen for thousands of years as a way to preserve food, a cooking ingredient, a condiment, even a cleaning agent. It's a great way to jazz up foods without adding fat or sodium.

Culture Club

Different vinegars are popular in different cultures. White vinegar is used to make pickles in the Deep South, balsamic vinegar is a key ingredient in Italian cooking, rice vinegar sweetens Japanese salads and English fish and chips are always teamed with malt vinegar.

A Sour is Born

Making vinegar is straight out of chemistry class. It's created by fermenting wine or another alcoholic liquid. The next step is for bacteria to attack the alcohol converting it into acetic acid. Vinegar is born.

Cooking with Vinegars

If you want vinegar to pack a punch, don't add it until you take your dish off the heat. If you want a less pungent flavor, add vinegar while cooking and let some of it boil off.

Storing Vinegars

Store your vinegars in a cool, dark place. Make sure they're tightly capped. They should be clear. If they look murky or cloudy it's time to restock. Most store-bought vinegars are pasteurized and keep for up to six months.

Flavoring Vinegars

It's easy and straightforward to make flavored vinegar. Simply mix fruit, herbs or garlic with red or white vinegar. Make sure the ingredients are thoroughly clean and dry before you get started. Let the concoction sit anywhere from hours to days so the flavors blend. Strain and use. Store any extra in the fridge. Try our recipe for Basic Basil-Infused Vinegar.

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Vinegar Roundup

"Everybody should have at least four vinegars in their pantry — rice vinegar, a good balsamic vinegar, a good wine vinegar and a sherry vinegar," says John Ash, columnist, cookbook author and Fetzer Vineyards' spokesman (see Chefs@home.) "If you've been jilted and you're depressed just quickly wilt some spinach and a little bit of sherry vinegar and some salt and pepper, it's so great."

Balsamic vinegar Made from white Trebbiano grapes from the Modena region of Italy and aged for years in a variety of wood barrels. The longer the vinegar ages, the better the taste and the dearer the cost. It has syrupy, full, sweet flavor. The color comes from the wood barrels.

Cider vinegar Made from apples. It has a tart flavor.

Distilled vinegar Made from grains like corn, rye and barley. It has a harsh flavor.

Malt vinegar Made from malted barley. It has a slightly sweet, mild flavor.

Rice vinegar Brewed from rice wine. It has a sweet, crisp flavor.

Wine vinegar Made from fermented red and white wines, sherry or champagne. Clean and dry, the flavor depends on the grape variety.



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