Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is made from cider or apple mash in the same way as malt vinegar. It has strong sharp flavor at full strength and a delicate apple flavor when the better quality is diluted. The color is a warm honey color. Today it’s usually sold filtered, but due to the growing belief that the unfiltered organic kind is beneficial to over-all health it’s being sold in the original form. It’s used as a pickling agent or as a condiment. It’s very good for pickling fruit and when it’s diluted it can be used for salad dressing.
The very best balsamic vinegars are made from the juice of Trebbiano grapes that has been boiled down to almost a syrup consistency. This reduction goes through a first natural fermentation in wooden casks, which produces alcohol. A second fermentation takes place with the aid of the acetobacter bacteria in the air. This creates the acetic acid that is vinegar. This vinegar is then filtered into wooden casks and left to mature for 10 to 30 years or even longer. Some Balsamic vinegars mature in a succession of casks all made from a different type of wood. Each wood gives another layer of flavor to the vinegar. It’s a combination of wood, wine and time that makes traditionally made balsamic vinegar such an extraordinary and very expensive pleasure.
It’s dark in color, very smooth and mellow, with deep complexity and zones of subtle flavors.
Balsamic vinegar originated in Modena, a town in northern Italy. Commercially made balsamic vinegar is also made in the region. It’s nowhere close to the quality of the traditionally made vinegar, but it’s very good and clearly different from other wine vinegars. Although they’re produced on a large scale, most commercial Balsamic vinegars are left to mature in wood for varying lengths of time to develop the basic characteristics of the traditionally made vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is gluten-free.
Vinegar made from beer is produced in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands and are popular there. Although its flavor depends on the particular type of beer from which it is made, it’s often described as having a malty taste. The type produced in Bavaria, is a light golden color with a very sharp and not too complex of a flavor.
Black Rice Vinegar
Black rice vinegar is very popular in southern China. Chinkiang vinegar, which is the best of the black rice vinegars, is made there. Usually it’s made with glutinous or sweet rice, but millet or sorghum may be used instead. It’s dark colored and has a deep, almost smoky flavor.
The quality of black rice vinegar varies immensely. Gold Plum’s Chinkiang vinegar, made with glutinous rice, water and salt, is as a rule considered to be the best. Black rice vinegar functions well in braised dishes or as a dipping sauce. It can also work as a substitute for balsamic vinegar.
Cane vinegar is made from sugarcane and has a rich, lightly sweet flavor. Cane vinegar is crucial in making pickles, mustards and vinaigrettes. It adds flavor to numerous sauces, dressings, and marinades, and can be used in recipes of such preparations as sauerbraten, sweet and sour dishes and marinated herring. Cane vinegar is commonly used in Philippine cooking.
Champagne vinegar has a delicate, refined and agreeable taste and is pale gold in color, yet clear and bright. It’s produced using the same type of grapes as the better types of champagne. Usually using champagne grapes such as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes in the process, champagne vinegar is made using the same basic process used to age white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. It’s very expensive.
Coconut Vinegar is traditionally collected in the Philippines, by tree climbers who climb to where the stem that bears the flowers and fruits are, and cut the ends of the stems so it doesn’t bear fruit anymore. The remaining stems are then placed inside of cylinders to catch the nectar that seeps out. Locally the nectar is called tuba. This nectar would normally feed the growing fruits.
The tree climbers go from tree to tree each day collecting the nectar caught in these cylinders. Once collected, the nectar ferments in about 40 to 60 days. The color changes from a cloudy white, to a clear yellow to a brownish color, which is a natural occurrence of the fermentation process. Coconut vinegar is low in acidity. It has a musty flavor and a unique aftertaste. It’s used in many Thai and Indian dishes.
Corn Sugar Vinegar
Corn sugar vinegar is a result of the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentation of corn sugar according to federal regulations. It has a smooth, mild flavor and is a distinctive amber color. It has a minimum of 4% acid expressed as acetic acid and functions as an acidulant in foods.
Vinegar made from dates is a traditional product of the Middle East and is found in Middle Eastern markets.Making vinegar from dates documents back to 5000BC in Babylonia. Date vinegar has a warm dark color and has a rich, fruity flavor. You can use as you would a balsamic vinegar.
Distilled Vinegar is colorless and very strong. It’s is too harsh for use in cooking but it’s ideal for pickling, cleaning glass, use as a detergent or as a disinfectant.
White vinegar is typically distilled, and, if so, is gluten-free. Distilled vinegar can be distilled from wheat, corn, potatoes, beets, apples, wood, and many other things. Most in the United States are not made from wheat, but are instead made from corn, potatoes or wood. Heinz white vinegar is distilled from corn. Distilled vinegar made from wood is gluten-free. Distilled vinegars that are made from wheat are probably gluten-free because of the distillation process used. Wood-based vinegar is often the vinegar used in processed foods.
Flavored vinegars have been in use in different parts of the world for thousands of years. Historical records indicate at least as far back as the Babylonians. Red, white and rice vinegars are the most commonly used vinegars. Any variety or combination, of flavoring agents, is steeped. The only limiting factor, when making flavored-vinegars, is your imagination. The most common flavorings are herbs and spices, although; flowers, fruits and vegetables are other options.
Making Flavored Vinegar…
You can flavor any basic vinegar of your chose. The best base is an unseasoned rice, white wine or distilled vinegar, because they won’t compete with the seasonings you add. Remember distilled vinegar will be strong. You can use such things as herbs, raw garlic, hot peppers or lemon peel. If using fruit such as raspberries you should first cook down the fruit, adding a tablespoon of sugar or honey to the mixture, then placing it in a wide-mouthed jar and covering it with vinegar. Cap it, label it and let it sit a week or two before tasting it. When stored in a cool dry place flavored vinegar should last at least 2 years. Berry fruits can change color but won’t spoil because the vinegar acts as a preservative.
You should choose the vinegar according to what you want to add to it. Apple cider vinegar compliments fruits. White vinegar works well with herbs and wine vinegar goes well with stronger herbs such as tarragon and garlic. Other items that can be used to flavor vinegar are cinnamon, cloves, and horseradish.
To create spicy vinegars gently heat one quart of vinegar or small amounts if you want to experiment. Add to it dry spice like peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, or whole cloves, alone or in combination. Cool, strain, bottle and label it. No aging is necessary.
To create quick fruit-flavored vinegar, add 2 tablespoons of jam or fruit preserves to 1 cup of red or white wine vinegar. Let it stand for one week. You don’t need to strain it.
Lavender vinegar can be made from unseasoned rice vinegar with sprigs of lavender added to it. Cap it and let it stand for a few weeks. This vinegar can be used as a cleaner, deodorizer or mild scented splash. It’s not meant to be added to food.
You can add rose petals or any sweet smelling flower to white vinegar to add a nice aroma.
Don’t store your flavored vinegars in direct sunlight. Placing it in the sun can change the acidity, color or flavor of your vinegar. You can attractively display the bottles in your kitchen, but just not in direct sunlight. If you don’t want to make your own you can find many flavored vinegar in gourmet markets.
Fruit vinegar is often made from raspberries, blueberries or blackberries or other fruit like quince or tomatoes. The resulting product tends to be sweet and delicate in flavor and aroma and it makes a nice complement to fruits and many salads. They can be used in salad dressings, such as raspberry vinaigrette.
Herb vinegars are made by adding herbs or spices to apple cider or wine vinegar and then allowing the flavors to blend. Flavor and other characteristics can vary immensely depending on the type of base vinegar used and the particular herbs and spices that are added.
Vinegar made from honey is rare, but there are commercially available honey vinegars produced in Italy and France. Etruria Organic Wildflower Honey Vinegar is an example.
This vinegar is made by much the same method as is used for commercially produced wine vinegars. It’s made from a beer-like brew using malted barley. Good malt vinegar must be left to mature for some time before it’s bottled. Malt vinegar has a strong flavor and medium acidity. It’s suitable only as a condiment or for pickling. It’s used as the basic type of cooking vinegar in Great Britain and used as a condiment with fish and chips. Malted vinegars are usually not gluten-free.
Vinegar made from raisins, called khal ‘anab in Arabic. It literally meaning “grape vinegar” and is used in Middle Eastern cuisine, where it’s produced. It’s cloudy and medium brown in color, with a mild flavor.
Red Rice Vinegar
Red rice vinegar is dark colored, but lighter than black rice vinegar. The taste is unique. It’s a delightful combination of tart and sweet. Red rice vinegar can be used as a substitute for black vinegar. All you have to do is add a bit of sugar. This vinegar makes a very good dipping sauce. You can also use it in noodle soup and seafood dishes. It’s often found in recipes for Hot and Sour and Shark’s Fin Soup. If you’re looking for a good brand choose either Pearl River Bridge or Koon Chun from Hong Kong.
Originating in China and Japan, rice vinegar is usually made from fermented rice or rice wine. Rice vinegars from China are stronger than the vinegars from Japan and range in color from colorless, through various shades of red and several shades of brown. The Japanese rice vinegar ranges from colorless to pale yellow. Compared to other types of vinegar Chinese and Japanese rice vinegars, especially the Japanese ones, are very mild, mellow and almost sweet. There’s two distinct types of Japanese vinegar. One’s made from fermented rice and the other’s made by adding rice vinegar to sake.
Sherry vinegars are made from a blend of wines, just like sherry, and are left to mature in the wood for a long time. As with other wine vinegars, the best are very expensive. They develop a broad, rich flavor and a mellow complexity.
Sherry vinegar (vinagre de Jerez) is considered gourmet wine vinegar made from sherry. It’s produced in the Spanish province of Cádiz and inside the triangular area between the city of Jerez de la Frontera and towns of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María, which is known as the “sherry triangle”.
By law to be called vinagre de Jerez, the sherry vinegar must undergo aging in American oak for a minimum of six months, can only be aged within the “sherry triangle” and must have a minimum of 7 degrees acidity. Most sherry vinegars are aged using the same solera system as the sherry wines and Brandy de Jerez.
The production and quality of sherry vinegar is monitored and controlled by the Consejo Regulador and sherry vinegar has its own Denominación de Origen, which is protected by Spanish and EU law. The only other vinegars, which have a similar protected designation of origin, are “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” from Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy and “Condado de Huelva” in Spain.
Spirit vinegar is distilled before the acetification process has finished and therefore contains a small amount of alcohol, which changes the flavor depth. This is the strongest of all the vinegars (5% to 20% acetic acid) and it’s used for the same purposes as distilled vinegar.
Umeboshi vinegar is pink brine, which has a deep cherry aroma and a fruity, sour flavor. It’s a by-product that’s produced when umeboshi or Japanese pickled plums is made. Although it’s not classified as a real vinegar, because it contains salt, it’s a good substitute for vinegar and salt in any recipe. It has a light, citric flavor and is excellent in salad dressings and to add flavor to steamed vegetables.
White Rice Vinegar
White rice vinegar is a colorless liquid, higher in vinegar content and more similar in flavor to regular vinegar, but it’s still less acidic and milder in flavor than regular vinegar.
The glutinous rice gives it a hint of sweetness. White rice vinegar can be used in stir-fries, particularly sweet and sour dishes, and is great for pickling, because of its higher vinegar content.The best brand to buy is Pearl River Bridge.
As in wine, wine vinegars can be red or white and also like wine the type of wine used determines the quality of the vinegar. Fine vinegars, of course, come from fine wine and are made the slow, traditional way in oak barrels. They’re matured in wood for periods ranging from a few weeks to up to one or two years.
In general red wine vinegars are aged longer than those made from white wine. The very best wine vinegars are made in proportionally small batches. They have fine balance and a subtle, complex flavor. They’re also characteristically rich and mellow in flavor.
Commercially produced wine vinegars are of an inferior quality, because they use average wine and faster production techniques. These techniques remove a lot of the more subtle flavors of the wine. Despite this many commercially produced wines are still very good, and thus, the price of the vinegar reflects the quality.Both red and white wine vinegar are gluten-free.