The word "vinegar" derives from the Old French vin aigre, meaning "sour wine.". It also is known as acidity regulator E260.
In the Bible, it is mentioned as something not very pleasant (Ps. 69:21, Prov. 25:20), but Boaz allows Ruth to "dip her piece of bread in the vinegar" (Ruth 2:14). Jesus was offered vinegar or sour wine while on the cross (Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36). In Islamic traditions, vinegar is one of the four favored condiments of the Prophet Muhammad, who called it a "blessed seasoning".
Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional vinegars and fermentation proceeds slowly over the course of weeks or months. The longer fermentation period allows for the accumulation of a nontoxic slime composed of acetic acid bacteria and soluble cellulose, known as the mother of vinegar.
Fast methods add mother of vinegar (i.e. bacterial culture) to the source liquid before adding air using a Venturi pump system or a turbine to promote oxygenation to obtain the fastest fermentation. In fast production processes, vinegar may be produced in a period ranging from 20 hours to three days.
Vinegar eels (Turbatrix aceti), a form of nematode that has cells that are air-borne, may occur in some forms of vinegar unless the vinegar is kept covered. These feed on the mother of vinegar and can occur in naturally fermenting vinegar. This is the reason vinegar condiment jars have tightly-fitting stoppers. Most manufacturers filter and pasteurize their product before bottling to eliminate any potential adulteration although there is no harm when they are ingested.
White vinegar is used for culinary as well as cleaning purposes because vinegar also can be used for sterilization. White vinegar also is used in some cases to kill Athlete's foot.
A cheaper alternative, called "non-brewed condiment," is a solution of 4-8% acetic acid colored with caramel (usually E150). There also is around 1-3% citric acid present. Non-brewed condiment is more popular in the North of England, and gained popularity with the rise of the Temperance movement .
Fruit vinegars are made from fruit wines, usually without any additional flavoring. Common flavors of fruit vinegar include apple, black currant, raspberry, quince, and tomato. Typically, the flavors of the original fruits remain in the final product.
Most fruit vinegars are produced in Europe, where there is a growing market for high-priced vinegars made solely from specific fruits (as opposed to non-fruit vinegars which are infused with fruits or fruit flavors). Several varieties, however, also are produced in Asia. Persimmon vinegar, called gamsik cho (감식초), is popular in South Korea. Jujube vinegar photo (called 枣醋 or 红枣醋 in Chinese) and wolfberry vinegar photo (called 枸杞醋 in Chinese) are produced in China.
Umezu (梅酢; often translated as "umeboshi vinegar" or "ume vinegar"), a salty, sour liquid that is a by-product of umeboshi (pickled ume) production, is produced in Japan, but technically is not a true vinegar.
Balsamic has a high acid level, but the sweetness covers the tart flavor, making it very mellow.
Rice vinegar is most popular in the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia. It is available in "white" (light yellow), red, and black varieties. The Japanese prefer a light and more delicate rice vinegar for the preparation of sushi rice and salad dressings. Red rice vinegar traditionally is colored with red yeast rice, although some Chinese brands use artificial food coloring instead. Black rice vinegar (made with black glutinous rice) is most popular in China, although it also is produced in Japan (see East Asian black, below). It may be used as a substitute for balsamic vinegar, although its dark color and the fact that it is aged may be the only similarity between the two products.
Some varieties of rice vinegar are sweetened or otherwise seasoned with spices or other added flavorings.
Palm vinegar, made from the fermented sap from flower clusters of the nipa palm (also called attap palm), is used most often in the Philippines, where it is produced, and where it is called sukang paombong.
Vinegar made from raisins, called khal 'anab (خل عنب) in Arabic (literally meaning "grape vinegar") is used in cuisines of the Middle East, and is produced therein. It is cloudy and medium brown in color, with a mild flavor. photo
Vinegar made from beer is produced in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. Although its flavor depends on the particular type of beer from which it is made, it often is described as having a malty taste. That produced in Bavaria, is a light golden color with a very sharp and not-overly-complex flavor.
A somewhat lighter form of black vinegar, made from rice, also is produced in Japan, where it is called kurozu. Since 2004 it has been marketed as a healthful drink; its manufacturers claim that it contains high concentrations of amino acids.
Popular fruit-flavored vinegars include those infused with whole raspberries, blueberries, or figs (or else from flavorings derived from these fruits). Some of the more exotic fruit-flavored vinegars include blood orange and pear.
Herb vinegars are flavored with herbs, most commonly Mediterranean herbs such as thyme or oregano. Such vinegars can be prepared at home by adding sprigs of fresh or dried herbs to vinegar purchased at a grocery store; generally a light-colored, mild tasting vinegar, such as that made from white wine, is used for this purpose.
Sweetened vinegar is of Cantonese origin and is made from rice wine, sugar and herbs including ginger, cloves, and other spices.
Spiced vinegar, from the Philippines (labeled as spiced sukang maasim), is flavored with chili peppers, onions, and garlic.
There was a reported adverse event (Esophageal Injury by Apple Cider Vinegar Tablets) recorded by members of Department of Human Environmental Science (Human Nutrition), University of Arkansas, and available on Pubmed as an abstract of a paper submitted to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15983536. There also is a paper reporting on a woman in whom chronic ingestion of excessive amounts of cider vinegar caused serious health problems - Hypokalemia, Hyperreninemia and Osteoporosis in a Patient Ingesting Large Amounts of Cider Vinegar, available from http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Doi=45180.
Vinegar mixed with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is used in the livestock industry to kill bacteria and viruses before refrigerated storage. A chemical mixture of peracetic acid is formed when acetic acid is mixed with hydrogen peroxide.
White vinegar often is used as a natural household cleaning agent. With most such uses dilution with water is recommended for safety, reduced risk of damaging certain surfaces, and budgetary reasons. It is especially useful for cleaning mineral deposits found on glass, inside a coffee maker, or other smooth surfaces.
Vinegar is an excellent solvent for cleaning epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. It will even clean epoxy that is starting to harden. Care should be taken not to allow contact with the eyes (if such contact occurs, the eyes should be flushed immediately and persistently with warm water) or skin (the affected skin area should be washed thoroughly after use). See household chemicals.
Vinegar also is very good to clean off chewing gum stains from clothes; usually normal cleaning products are not capable of cleaning off chewing gum, so rubbing with vinegar before the machine wash should do the trick.
Diluted apple cider vinegar can be used to deep clean dreadlocks, removing residue and even beeswax. One method involves spraying a mixture of one part vinegar to four parts water onto the hair, letting it soak in, rinsing with water, and repeating this process as many times as necessary.
A few tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with a few teaspoons of common table salt makes an excellent cleanser for cleaning badly-stained stainless steel cookware. This vinegar and salt mixture also can remove oxidation from copper-clad cookware and make it shine with practically no rubbing required.
One cup of white vinegar to four cups of water (for a stronger solution, one cup of white vinegar to one cup of 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.
Malt vinegar sprinkled onto crumpled newspaper is a traditional, and still-popular, method of cleaning grease-smeared windows and mirrors in the UK.
Plumbing drains can be cleaned by using a combination of vinegar and baking soda. Pour one-half cup baking soda down the drain, followed by one-half cup of white vinegar. Let sit for a while. Cover the drain while it works, meanwhile bring a tea kettle of water to a boil, and pour the boiling water down the drain. This is a good way to prevent build-up in the drain.
Vinegar also works well as a fabric softener; just add half a cup to the rinse cycle.
Add a cup of vinegar to an empty dishwasher and run through the washing cycle to remove mineral deposits and odors. One also can put it in the rinse dispenser instead of Jet Dry.
Removing odors using commercial cleaners often causes damage to surfaces. Vinegar can act as a very effective odor-remover especially in situations involving sensitive surfaces.
Vinegar is effective in removing rust from metals and for cleaning ice-skate blades.
The trials showed that a number of common weeds could be controlled effectively by using vinegar with 5% to 20% acetic acid as a herbicide, although the lower concentration is less effective. A crop of corn may be sprayed with vinegar at 20% strength without causing harm to that crop, so it may be used to help keep a corn crop clear of weeds. In Fall 2007, the EPA registered the world's first organic vinegar-based weed and grass killer, named Weed Pharm. The product's active ingredient is 200-grain “food grade” vinegar.
Acetic acid is not absorbed into root systems, so vinegar will kill top growth, but perennial plants will reshoot.
Commercial vinegar, available to consumers for household use, does not exceed 5% and solutions above 10% need careful handling since they are corrosive and damaging to skin. Stronger solutions (i.e., greater than 5%) that are labeled for use as herbicides are available from some retailers.
When a bottle of vinegar is opened, the mother of vinegar may develop. It is considered harmless and can be removed by filtering. Colloquially-collected knowledge recommends an expiration or shelf-life date of 12-18 months, although no reference explicitly states its toxicity. Various records can be found warning of decomposition of flavoring elements, such as whole leaves, prepared in the vinegar.
When vinegar is added to sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), it produces a volatile mixture of carbonic acid rapidly decomposing into water and carbon dioxide bubbles, making the reaction, "fizz". It is exemplified as the typical acid-base reaction in school science experiments. The salt that is formed is sodium acetate. This also serves as a qualitative test for some carboxylic acids.
Some countries, prohibit the selling of vinegar over a certain percentage acidity. As an example, the government of Canada limits the acetic acid of vinegars to between 4.1% and 12.3%. Departmental Consolidation of the Food and Drugs Act and the Food and Drug Regulations - Part B - Division 17-28. Health Canada. Retrieved on 2008-09-02..
According to Muhammad, vinegar is one of the best condiments.
Lord Byron would consume vast quantities of white vinegar in an attempt to keep his complexion pale.
Posca, a Roman legionaries' basic drink was vinegar mixed with water and optional honey.
According to legend, in France during the Black Plague, four thieves were able to rob houses of plague victims without being infected themselves. When finally caught, the Judge offered to grant the men their freedom, on the condition that they revealed how they managed to stay healthy. They claimed that a medicine woman sold them a potion, made of garlic soaked in soured red wine (vinegar). Variants of the recipe, called Four Thieves Vinegar, have been passed down for hundreds of years and are a staple of New Orleans Hoodoo practices.
Diluted vinegar can be used as a homemade stop bath during photographic processing.