Friday, April 2, 2010

Various Vinegars

As I prepare to dye Easter eggs, and reach to grab vinegar, I’m astound by the variety lining my cupboard: Balsamic; Apple Cider; Red-Wine, Distilled. Each offers up various benefits and tastes, so I thought it might be beneficial to point out what sets each of them apart.

Technically speaking, vinegar is derived from the French "vin aigre" meaning sour wine. It is made by bacterial activity that converts fermented liquids into a weak solution of acetic acid.

The most common vinegar is plain distilled. It is made from grain alcohol and has a very sharp, unpleasant taste. Use it in very small quantities; or for cleaning purposes.

Rice vinegar is the mildest of all. Generally, these types of vinegar have a 4 to 5% acid content and are used in salad dressings, and as a condiment for soups, stews and noodle dishes.

Apple cider vinegar is made when sugar in the apple cider is broken down by bacteria and yeast into alcohol and then into vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is a light yellow-brown color and is often sold unfiltered and unpasteurized with a dark, cloudy sediment called mother of vinegar settled at the bottom of the bottle. It has a host of health benefits, but also is great for cooking. Since it is mild, it's a good choice for marinating fish or chicken.

Red and white wine vinegars are more 'everyday' vinegars. They are good for salad dressings and marinades. Red wine vinegar is best used with heartier flavors and foods, like beef, pork, and vegetables.
White wine vinegar is best for chicken and fish dishes.   Sherry vinegar has the rich, subtly nutlike flavor of the popular fortified wine.

Balsamic vinegar is the most expensive because it is aged for a longer period of time. It is traditionally manufactured in Modena, Italy, from the concentrated juice, or must, of white grapes . It is very dark brown in color and its flavor is rich, sweet, and complex, with the finest grades being the end product of years of aging in a successive number of casks made of various types of wood.

Looking to add a bit of flavor to your diet? Check out the wide selection of vinegar at Food for Thought, and add something new to your cooking arsenal!

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