V is for victorious vinegar! There are so many different types out there and they’re all so delicious. Different colors, different tastes, different levels of acidity, different bases for making them. Let’s get started.
Vinegar is basically an acid. Chefs talk a lot about adding acid to dishes to finish them off, while lemon juice is frequently the acid of choice, a variety of different vinegars also do the trick. More than just a component in salad dressings, a little vinegar on a dish can really help heighten and enliven the flavors, bringing out the flavors within. Give it a try!
People always say that old wine turns into vinegar. This is not entirely true. The wine would need to be fermented a again with something call a “mother”, a blob of friendly bacteria (like a sourdough starter). The mother starts a secondary fermentation process which turns alcohol into acetic acid. Since vinegar starts off as a juice (or wine or cider) or some sort, it’s a good idea to branch out into organics. Since I only eat organic apples the same goes when it comes to my apple cider vinegar!
I love balsamic vinegar a whole lot, but in truth it is a bit of a trendy food item. Joel Dean, from Dean & Deluca fame, is largely credited with starting this fad when he began imported balsamic vinegar from Modena Italy to sell in his New York shop. Before long it took it and by the ‘90s was sold nationwide. By the 2000’s it seemed every crappy café in the country was offering balsamic vinaigrette on its salads. Back in Italy, it’s not widely used outside of Emilia-Romagna region in the north where it is so beloved folks apparently bring their own bottles to restaurants with them and dole it out by the eye-dropper!
No question about it, balsamic is great stuff. Dark, rich, earthy, sweet. Good balsamic is made from trebbiano grape must (leftovers from wine-making) and the great stuff is aged in oak barrels for years and years. The über-expensive stuff that was aged for decades is thick and intense and tastes so good you would not believe it. Worth the $$$. Read the label on your vinegar…if it has caramel or coloring or thickeners added to it…throw it out!
But lets not forget about the other vinegars out there. Classic RED WINE is great stuff and deserves another shot in your kitchen, sherry is one of my favorites with its intense, bright acidity. Yummy and health apple cider vinegar is used as folk medicine for a million things and a splash will turn you apple pie into an award winner. I also really enjoy Rice Vinegar (NOT seasoned…seasoned means it’s been sweetened which you can easily do yourself at home so get XXX rice vinegar…), strong umeboshi vinegar and coconut vinegar for when I’m doing the Asian thing. Shoot, I can even see the value in white vinegar!
For well over a year I’ve been using a spray bottle of white vinegar to clean things up in my home. The acid cuts through grease, a little goes a long way, I know EXACTLY what I’m spraying around my house, the scent dissipates quickly and it costs next to nothing. It is an amazing household cleaner. I even make floor soap out of it!
For this episode I show off how to turn cheap and crappy balsamic vinegar into something a little more exciting—a balsamic reduction. There’s nothing to it really…in fact I didn’t even show it on video I just talk about it and eat it!
I also got bold and made the classic Filipino dish, Chicken Adobo. I could have gotten fancy and used some rice vinegar or my beloved coconut vinegar (which I’ll do when you come over for dinner sometime) but instead chose to use the plain, boring, distilled, white vinegar. I chose this one ‘coz ANYONE can find it ANYWHERE and it makes a surprisingly great adobo! You have no excuse but to try it out.
I’m barely scratching the surface here. There are hundreds of different vinegars out there and each one has its own thing going on. Vinegars offer you a great opportunity to explore the fun and functional addition of acids in your food and your pantry. Create your own home cleaners, make tasty and complex reductions, bust out the world’s greatest dressings and pump up the flavor in all of your dishes with help from the mighty V, vinegar!