Tag Archives: Vinegar

Switchel – Old-Timey Drinking Vinegar

And in my thirst they gave me vinegar

-Psalm 69:21

Switchel, old-timey drinking vinegar, make with apple cider vinegar, molasses, and gingerThis post is part of an ongoing fight against the tyranny of the lemon.

In the ancient world drinking vinegar was for the destitute and god-forsaken.  In fact, it was the last thing Christ drank before he gave up the ghost.

So it is interesting that in North America, before we had access to cheap lemons and limes, we made several thirst-quenching drinks with vinegar.  The most famous of these was probably switchel, a mixture of apple cider vinegar, molasses, and ginger, diluted with cold water.  Switchel was often given to farmhands during the hot harvest season.

I know drinking vinegar sounds really weird, but with balancing sweetness and … Continue reading.

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

A bottle of Unico Balsamic Vinegar of ModenaThis is balsamic vinegar of Modena.[1]  We’ve all had it before: it’s brown, and sweet, and acidic.  This bottle was produced by Unico.  I think I bought it at Safeway.

Let’s look at the ingredients list.  First is wine vinegar.  Then concentrated grape must.  “Must” is the winemaker’s term for unfermented grape juice.  So concentrated grape must is just cooked grape juice.  Next we see caramel, or cooked sugar, which gives the vinegar is characteristic colour, sweetness, and body.  Finally we have sulfites, which inhibit micro-organisms and prevent unwanted fermentation.  In other words, this condiment is sweetened vinegar.

Bottles labelled “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena” have a faux seal on them that says “Indicazione Geografica Protettata,” or IGP.  This is … Continue reading.

Herb Vinegar

Resinous herbs can easily handle lights frosts, so this time of year we still have a good deal of thyme, rosemary, and other robust herbs in the garden.  Thankfully there is an entire repertoire of methods to preserve them before the snow falls.  You can collect them in large bouquets and hang them in your kitchen to dry, for instance.  Or make salted herbs.  Or pack them into a jar and pour vinegar over them.  This past week I racked a couple gallons of cider vinegar from a healthy vinegar crock, so herb vinegar seemed the best way to save our thyme.

The aromatic components of herbs are called essential oils.  They more closely resemble fats, ethanol, and … Continue reading.

Vinaigrettes

There are many compelling reasons to never buy salad dressings from the grocery store:

  • You almost certainly already have the ingredients in your pantry to make a good dressing.
  • A good dressing can be made in less than 90 seconds.  Actually you can make enough dressing for a few weeks in 90 seconds.
  • There are weird things in store-bought dressings, like calcium disodium EDTA and acetylated monoglycerides.  They also usually contain a good deal of sugar or glucose-fructose; not necessarily a bad thing, but a fact of which many people are unaware.

Invest is some quality oil and vinegar, then never buy a Kraft dressing again.

Whisking together a vinaigrette for slaw.

The simplest dressing to make at home is vinaigrette, which is a French diminutive … Continue reading.

Cider Vinegar

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley.

-Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”

 

A bottle of honey-coloured homemade cider vinegar.This year, for the first time, I successfully “made” vinegar.  I didn’t write about it earlier because I didn’t feel like I had actually done anything, or learned anything.  Hence the quotation marks.  The truth is that with the numerous little crocks and tubs in which I’ve fermented cider, every so often something really weird happens that I can’t explain.

I tried really hard to make vinegar last year.  I read quite a bit online about the process.  The conversion of alcoholic beverages like wine and cider into vinegar is a fermentation in the broad biochemical sense.  When we make cider, yeast, a … Continue reading.