The Most Popular Varieties of Vinegar
Vinegar can be made from any fruit that holds sufficient natural sugar that, when it is left to stand, it passes through two stages of fermentation, firstly to alcohol and then to the desired condiment itself.
In England, malt vinegar is the long-standing favourite. This type is made from any kind of grain, though barley seems to be the one most used. It is made by malting the barley kernels and, from the resulting maltose; an ale is made which, after being left to ferment, turns into the malt variety. This one is also popular for pickling foods such as small onions, gherkins and also eggs, preserving the food and adding its own distinct ale flavour which the malted solution has retained.
Another regular flavour in England is the simple white vinegar. This is another grain-based variety, which is also popular for pickling and for making tomato sauce and mayonnaise.
Cider (or apple) vinegar is another favourite and, as it name implies, it is made from apples or cider. Itís quite strong in taste and can be diluted before drinking and also sweetened with honey or sugar. This is a good choice for adding to salads and to poultry dishes, as it can replace salt in enhancing flavour.
Balsamic vinegar is an Italian favourite which is derived from cooked grapes and its dark brown colour comes from its years of ageing in different wooden barrels (e.g. oak, chestnut and cherry). The real thing was and still is very expensive but, in the twentieth century, a cheaper one became available worldwide. Whereas the original balsamic variety might have been ageing for between five and thirty years and the very best up to even one hundred years, the cheaper version is sometimes a mix of a strong vinegar, grape juice, sugar and caramel flavouring.
If youíre looking for a really good balsamic, some bottles will display a leaf ranking: the one leaf may be best for using on salads but the four-leaf ranking would indicate using very sparingly indeed (i.e. one drop or maybe two). This culinary treat is so special and its sweet and sour tastes go well with foods such as spinach, goat cheese and even strawberries.
Distilled vinegar is one that has been distilled to produce a colourless variety and can be made from several types of vinegar, though the malt one is the most economical choice. It is used in cooking, pickling and in meat preservation.
Popular along the Mediterranean, wine vinegar is made from grapes, so it can be either red or white in colour. Depending on the kind of grape used, these colours may vary in shade and will be used on salads, for marinating meat and for pickling fruit and vegetables. These blends will enhance the natural sweetness of fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and melons and will reduce the need to add salt to savoury dishes.
There are other types of vinegar but those mentioned are the most popular and the easiest to find. Other than the fact that this magical solution enhances the flavour of food, vinegar is also very good for your health, as it cleans your system and makes you feel good all-round. Getting it into your daily diet is therefore a must and a teaspoonful diluted in a glass of orange juice actually improves the flavour. Try it and be better off for the experience!