11 Apr Versatile but not equal-the vinegar conundrum!
At Australian Vinegar we are often asked, ‘do you make vinegar for cleaning?’
For us, the answer is easy. We love making quality vinegar for consumption and enjoyment. Definitely not for cleaning … there is a difference!
That’s not to say both don’t have their place. The great versatility of vinegar often leads people to think all vinegars are created equal.
While it’s true all vinegar is a food, there are significant differences between types of vinegar in terms of ingredients, production and use.
The good news is that all vinegar is a natural food and contains no harmful chemicals. Dating back to 5000BC, vinegar has been widely used around the world as a preservative, flavour enhancer, condiment, for health benefits and also for cleaning.
To understand the versatility of vinegar, here’s a quick overview of how vinegar is made:
Ø Vinegar is made by two distinct biological processes involving harmless microorganisms (yeast and ‘Acetobacter’) which turn sugars (carbohydrates) into acetic acid.
1. Alcoholic fermentation – this occurs when yeasts change natural sugars to alcohol under controlled conditions
2. Acetic (acid) fermentation-this occurs when a group of bacteria (called ‘Acetobacter’) converts the alcohol portion to acid. This acetic fermentation forms the vinegar
Ø The skill in vinegar making lies in three critical areas
1. Use of proper bacteria cultures
2. Timing of each process
3. Careful control of the fermentation process
So what makes vinegar so versatile?
Since vinegar can be made from anything which contains sugar, the list of vinegar varieties is endless…
However, the significant difference between vinegars can be found in the source of the key ingredient, sugar.
The vinegar best suited to cleaning is white (sometimes known as distilled) vinegar, which is made by the acetic fermentation of diluted, distilled alcohol. These vinegars, often dubbed the ‘miracle cleaner’ are inexpensive to purchase because less skill and time is required in their production. They are non-toxic and ideal for household cleaning, sanitising, ant and weed control and even pet care.
However, quality vinegars such as red and white wine vinegars (such as merlot and chardonnay) and fruit vinegars (such as apple) are significantly superior in flavour, texture, taste and consistency. Perfect for enhancing the flavour of just about any dish.
To deliver this quality, our Principal Vinegar Maker Ian Henderson, includes a third step in the fermentation process. Depending on the variety this involves the settling, blending, sweetening and ageing of the vinegar.
So choose your vinegar wisely and make the most of this versatile food!