CONTENTS PART ONE: Introduction to Vinegar 1 What Is Vinegar? The Essential Kitchen Vinegars Noncooking Uses for Vinegars PART TWO: Homemade Vinegar and Beyond 13 Making Your Own Vinegar • Making Vinegar Infusions • Infused Vinegar Recipes • Shrubs • Pickling PART THREE: Cooking with Vinegar 39 Vinaigrettes, Dressings, and Sauces • Chutneys • Chilled Salads and Slaws • Appetizers and Soups • Side Dishes and Main Courses • Desserts Resources 88 Metric Conversion Chart 89 Index 90 Making & Using Vinegar_jef_final_5_29_14.indd 3 6/3/14 4:21 PM.
PART ONE INTRODUCTION TO VINEGAR The discovery of vinegar is an early example of true visionary genius. Thousands of years ago someone’s wine went bad and it sat around for weeks, maybe months. Upon tasting it, they found it to be incredibly harsh with a deep acid bite. That’s when they decided that this would be the magical addition to improve the taste of food all around the world. Vinegar can make simple foods sparkle. It can make a good dish great. And it can make a great dish memorable. It’s a lot to ask of one ingredient, but it does its job well. That’s because vinegar is easily the most contradictory food ever created. It’s both mysterious and common. It’s easy to make, yet almost everyone rushes out to buy it. We don’t like to eat foods that are tart and acidic, but we use vinegar in everyday foods such as salads, savory dishes, and even desserts. We combine vinegar 1 Making & Using Vinegar_jef_final_5_29_14.indd 1 6/3/14 4:21 PM.
with other ingredients all the time. Yet how often do you taste a spoonful of vinegar? Using vinegar can make you a better, more interesting, and more confident cook by providing a balance that’s often lack- ing in food. When vinegar is combined with something mild, sweet, or spicy, its benefits jump out. Think of vinegar as a member of a sports team. If you don’t field all of the players, you can’t win the game.
WHAT IS VINEGAR? The word vinegar, translated from the French, means “sour wine.” Quite simply, vinegar is something containing sugar that has been fermented into a drinkable alcohol, in this case, etha- nol. This continues to ferment and become vinegar. If you’re someone who loves wine, then it’s gone bad. If you’re someone who loves vinegar, then something good has happened! Usually, the source of the ethanol for vinegar is wine. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be apple cider that has turned into hard cider. Or beer. This is just the first step. In its most basic form, vinegar is ethanol that has continued the fermentation process. At this point, good bacteria starts to have its effect, combined with air. The result is the forming of acetic acid, which is the main component of vinegar. This is what gives vinegar its tart, biting taste. The liquid that becomes vinegar has an acid level that’s between 4 and 7 percent of its volume. That’s the short version. The longer one is almost as sim- ple: You make ethanol, and then you convert it into acetic acid. The first step is to take any food item that contains natural sugars. With some added yeast, the sugars will then ferment into alcohol. The second step involves adding oxygen, found in air, combined with a vinegar mother. A mother is like the starter for yogurt or sourdough bread. It’s made from starch, from the sugar family, plus a healthy bacteria, which then combines with the liquid that you want to turn into vinegar.
you’ll have that vinegar within a few weeks. If you add beer, you’ll have malt vinegar. If you add red wine, you’ll have red wine vinegar. Adding hard cider, made from apples, will give you cider vinegar. The common ingredient in these is that they all have the alcohol/ethanol, which feeds the healthy bacteria in the mother to make vinegar. Vinegar can be also created just with the ethanol and oxy- gen. That is, pour a bottle of wine into a larger, wide-mouth jar and let it sit. But this can take months to create and may not even result in vinegar. A number of things along the way, such as temperature fluctuations, bacteria, and dust in the air, can derail and ruin a motherless vinegar. But if you use a mother, with its good bacteria, your vinegar will turn out well, and faster.