Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water. The acetic acid is produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. It is today mainly used in the kitchen, but historically, as the most easily available mild acid, it had a great variety of industrial, medical and domestic uses. Commercial vinegar today, is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes.
In today’s perceived ‘time pressed’ world, many of its great uses have been forgotten. However, since the ‘silent economic depression’ seems to be dragging on, vinegar is again being used in place of the newer more expensive products and since vinegar has an almost limitless shelf life, it is a great, inexpensive item for long term emergency storage.
Unopened bottles of vinegar can be stored indefinitely. Producers recommend that opened bottles should be used up within 6 months to enjoy peak flavor; although many (including me) have kept vinegars much longer than that (years!). All bottles should be kept in a cool, dark place - including those gourmet bottles with sprigs of herbs inside. You need to choose if they’ll be food or decor, since daily exposure to bright light can alter the flavor over time.
Remember long term storage for most things (especially food and medical items) need cool, dry, dark places. The opposite of what is generally needed to grow them
While most people think of vinegar as something that is made from wine, it can be made from the fermented juices of virtually any plant material, including rice, grain and fruit. Thus, while European vinegar is basically an alcoholic beverage that has gone sour (the word vinegar that we use today is French for sour wine vin is wine and aigre means sour), around the world vinegars are made from a broad variety of bases.
Vinegar is a totally natural food. In a bottle of vinegar there are no harmful chemicals or preservatives, indeed vinegar is a preservative itself. There are so many ways that you can utilize its virtues. It is not just for vinaigrette dressing. There are many healing functions you can use it for. It cleans and sanitizes almost as well or better than anything on the market, it deodorizes and is a natural way to get rid of ants, other insects, and unwanted weeds. Vinegar through history has also been a good way to preserve foods. It is of course used in pickling but also when you marinate meat it kills unwanted bacteria such as ecoli.
The many uses of vinegar have been passed down through the centuries from medical, food preservation and condiment ingredient, to cleaning. White vinegar is especially popular for the treatment of rashes, bites and other minor ailments when camping.
Vinegar actually makes itself when aerobic bacteria (Acetobacter aceti or often called Mother of Vinegar) comes in contact with alcohol, while exposed to oxygen. The bacteria turn the alcohol to acetic acid and water; the acid that is found in all vinegars. Acetic acid is what gives vinegar its unique sharp sour taste. While acetic acid provides the vinegar with its primary taste component, it is the nature of the actual alcohol itself that gives the vinegar its specific character.
So, is it worth it to make your own vinegar?
It is becoming more and more popular to make your own vinegar or enhance store bought vinegar. Good homemade vinegar, when made properly, generally has a much better taste and more variety of flavors than the store bought. It is also fun just to see the process of nature at work.
Making simple cider or white vinegar can be cheaper than store bought, not always though.
Homemade vinegar does have one drawback – the acidity level will vary greatly, as us home producers do not have all the strategic testing of the acidic level to guarantee a consistent level. It can be done, however it will be way more of a time consuming thing, than an expense thing.
You can basically make vinegar from anything that has sugar in it.
First the sugars must change to alcohol. Then airborne bacteria turn the alcohol into acetic acid.
You can make vinegar from sugar water or molasses.
For some facts, history, uses, how-to’s and resources on the Wonderful World of Vinegar! see http://www.scribd.com/doc/78280149/Vinegar-in-All-Its-Wonder-Common-Uses
William H. Johnsen
Depression-era realist/impressionist painter