Vinegar (from Old French vinaigre "sour wine") is a sour liquid made from the oxidation of ethanol in wine, cider, beer, or the like. Vinegar is typically three to five percent by volume acetic acid, and natural vinegars also contain smaller amounts of tartaric acid, citric acid, and others.
Vinegar may be started by the addition of mother of vinegar to wine or cider. The oxidation is carried out by acetic acid bacteria, as was shown in 1864 by Louis Pasteur.
Vinegar is commonly used in food preparations, particularly in vinaigrettes, and in the pickling process. It is also used as a condiment.
Malt vinegar is made by malting barley, causing the starch in the grain to turn to sugar. An ale is then brewed from the sugar and allowed to turn into vinegar, which is then aged. A cheaper alternative, called 'non-brewed condiment', is a solution of 4-8% acetic acid coloured with caramel.
The British and Americans commonly use malt vinegar on fish and chips and tacos and Kim Chi.
Wine vinegar is made from red or white wine, and is the most common type of vinegar in Germany and other European countries. As with wine, there is a considerable range of qualities. The better qualities are matured in wood for up to two years and exhibit a complex, mellow flavour. Champagne vinegar is made from champagne, and Sherry vinegar is made from Sherry. They are correspondingly expensive.
Apple vinegar is made from cider or apple must, and is often sold unfiltered. It is currently very popular, partly due to its alleged beneficial properties.
White vinegar can be made by distilling ordinary vinegar, or may be nothing more than a solution of acetic acid in water.
Balsamic vinegar is an aromatic, aged type of vinegar manufactured in Modena, Italy.
The Japanese prefer a more delicate rice vinegar and use it for much the same purposes as Europeans. Rice vinegar is available in white, red and black variants. The latter may be used as a substitute for balsamic vinegar. Some types of rice vinegar are sweetened.
Popular fruit vinegars include those flavoured with raspberries and blueberries. Some of the more exotic fruit vinegars include blood orange and pear. Herb vinegars are flavoured with herbs, most commonly Mediterranean herbs, such as thyme, oregano.
Vinegar can be a potent, inexpensive and environmentally friendly cleaning agent. White vinegar is generally recommended when vinegar is being used as a cleaning fluid.
For example, one-part vinegar to four-parts water (for a stronger solution, one part vinegar to one part water works) makes a fine window-washing fluid, substituting for Windex. If windows appear streaky after washing with vinegar, add a half-teaspoon of liquid soap to the mix—this removes the waxy, streak-causing residue left over by commercial window cleaners.
Drains can be cleaned by using a combination of vinegar and baking soda. Pour one-half cup baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. Cover the drain while it works, then rinse with several gallons of water.
Vinegar also works well as a fabric softener ; just half a cup to the rinse cycle.
Vinegar is a folk medicine used in China to prevent the spread of virus such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and other pneumonia outbreaks:
- "On February 13, 2003 news of a type of atypical pneumonia that appeared in six cities of south China's Guangdong province has been brought under control, with no cases reported since Monday. According to press conferences held by the Guangdong and Guangzhou governments, local governments at various levels have taken emergency measures to control the prices of isatis root, vinegar and other related anti-virus medicines, which saw soaring prices due to their effectiveness in curing this disease." Source Unknown
Vinegar along with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is used in the livestock industry to kill bacteria and viruses before refrigeration storage. A chemical mixture of peracetic acid is formed when acetic acid is mixed with hydrogen peroxide. It is being used in some Asian countries by aerosol sprays for control of pneumonia. A mixture of five-percent acetic acid and three-percent hydrogen peroxide is commonly used.
Vinegar as an intoxicant
NOTE: In the U.S., vinegar is limited to 5% acetic acid. Not so everywhere. Acetic acid is poisonous in large doses and is responsible for many accidental deaths among children and by suicides.
Excess consumption of vinegar or acetic acid causes a form of intoxication, similar to alcohol intoxication. Besides symptoms of intoxication, other symptoms include diarrea, sleepiness, and unusual hunger. Vinegar is sometimes used as a substitute for alcohol in underage people.