Monday, May 30, 2011

Home Made Vinegar

From Oct 21, 2009

Vinegar is amazing stuff. Yeast eats sugar and excretes alcohol. If that alcohol is exposed to oxygen then along comes the vinegar bug [I don't remember if it is a bacteria, fungi or what] and makes lactic acid. Lactic acid is a wonderful preservative. Bacteria that cause food spoilage and food poisoning cannot live in a very acid environment. Pickled foods have been with mankind for eons. The pickling process changes the taste and texture of food, giving a new taste sensation, while also making the food store longer on the shelf.
Making vinegar at home is an easy thing. I have been doing it for a long time. sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. Whenever I am processing a lot of apples, I toss the cores, peels and bruised bits into a jar and mash them up. Add a little water if needed. In a few days they will smell a little alcoholic. A few days later they are distinctly vinegar.
Fresh vinegar is sharp tasting and cloudy. I let it sit around for a few months before I start using it. Slowly the sediment settles and the vinegar clears. It grows a ‘mother’ which is a jelly like mass. I siphon the cleared vinegar into more jars and let it settle again. I add the mother to the next batch of vinegar in the works. You don’t have to start with a ‘mother’, but it does speed up the process.
Different flavors of vinegar start with a different alcohol. Apple cider vinegar of course is made from apple cider. (Though you should read the label on the cheap commercial variety. I discovered it was just distilled vinegar with flavor and color added!) Malt vinegar is made from malted alcohol, similar to beer. Of course red wine vinegar is made from red wine.
Vinegar is useful for cleaning as well as having a lot of kitchen uses. Use it in salad dressing, pickles, marinades, et.  Use light fruity vinegars like strawberry or blueberry for salads. Apple cider, malt and wine vinegars are good to marinate tough meat in. The acid tenderizes the meat and the sharp flavor disappears in cooking.
While making your own vinegar may only save you a few dollars a year, it is just one more step down the road to independence.

1 comment:

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