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Real Vinegars are ALIVE! The Health Benefits of Real Vinegar

Article by Eliza Ward

Click here to see our complete selection of wine vinegars

There has been quite a bit written lately about both the culinary uses and health benefits of vinegar. Although, little has been proven by the western health establishment, we know that vinegar has been used for its medicinal, digestive, and preserving benefits for centuries - as well as for its delicious taste. Vinegar really is amazing stuff.

We cooks understand the culinary uses of vinegar well. Its acidic, and sometimes slightly sweet, flavors can often bring out the best in foods. We use it to add a nice bite to a salad, to deglaze a pan and make a wonderful sauce, or drizzle a bit into your favorite soup to give it that little extra punch. Vinegar can be just what the cook ordered - but it can also be so much more.

Of course, vinegar is a completely natural food. Leave an open bottle of wine or fruit juice out on the counter long enough, and it will eventually turn into vinegar - all by itself. Vinegar is a natural preservative - so no additives needed. But, as we have all experienced, leaving out an open bottle of wine for a few weeks does not usually guarantee an usable or enjoyable vinegar.

So, what makes one vinegar better (or worse) than another?
Making a good vinegar is a lot like making a good dish. There are three parts to making good vinegar, all of which contribute to the flavor and quality of the end result. These tips will help you to know how to buy vinegar.

1. The better the wine, the better the vinegar

This part is easy to understand. Just like in cooking, the flavor and quality of the starting ingredients effects the flavor and quality of the final dish. We can all imagine that Apple Cider vinegar, which is made from fermenting apple cider, is going to look and taste very different from Sparking Wine Vinegar, which is made from fermented Champagne variety grape wine. Sherry Vinegar, which is made from fermenting Sherry wine, is very different from Balsamic vinegar, which is made from Trebbiano grape Saba and aged and fermented in various types of wood barrels. Giuseppe, of Etruria Gourmet Foods, uses Mead as the starting liquid for all his honey, fruit and herb vinegars. Mead is an ancient Egyptian fermented beverage made from fermenting honey and water. To make his mead, Giuseppe uses only the highest quality organic honey made by traditional artisan producers in Italy. So, the flavor of the wine is going to impact the flavor of the vinegar, and the more flavor you start with, the more flavor the vinegar is going to have in the end - if the vinegar is made "properly".
2. Know your "Mother " 


The quality of the "mother", or starting bacteria, used to turn the wine into vinegar makes a big difference to the final product. The presents of the mother also effects the health benefits of the vinegar. Katz has not only developed the highest quality mothers to make his Apple Cider Vinegar, but he is careful to always leave the live mother in the bottle, which is why his vinegar often looks cloudy. He never pasteurizes his vinegars, because heating the vinegar would kill the live mother. So, all the potential health benefits of vinegar are left in tact and are, in fact, growing stronger every day. 

It is very common, expecially here in the US, for vinegar producers to filter out the the mother before they bottle the vinegar.  Mostly that is because we here in the US are a little squeemish about having bacteria - however healthy - swimming around in the bottle.  But the other main reason makers take the mother out, is because they don't want other vinegar producers stealing their mothers.  See, vinegar mother is a vinegar markers "secret sauce" - and usually a very well-guarded asset.  Note that, if the mother is left in the bottle, it will continue to grow, and may change the flavor of the vinegar over time.

3. Handle with care
How long the vinegar is aged, what types of containers it is kept in, where those containers are stored, and how the total process is controlled all impact the final taste and result when making vinegar. All of inegars from Acetoria are made using a double fermentation process. First, the fruit juice is fermented into fruit wine. Then, the fruit wine is fermented into vinegar. Both steps are carefully controlled for quality. Most importantly, if the vinegar is fermented too long, the acidity level will go above 5 to 6 percent, and the vinegar will have to be diluted to get the acidity back to the right level. Diluting the vinegar means diluting the flavor - and who wants diluted flavor?

So, a rose is not always a rose. Look carefully next time you buy vinegar. The label will often give you clues as to what is actually in that bottle, what care was taken to make it, and the amount of flavor that will come out once you open it. Remember, the more the flavor, the less you need to use.

Click here to see our complete selection of wine vinegars

Click here to read more about The Care and Feeding of Artisan Wine Vinegars

eat simply! live well!(sm)

(c), 2021

Keywords: Vinegar, Mother, Etruria Gourmet,Giuseppe,Apple Cider, Sherry,Champagne