The 3 Must-Have Vinegars
Ok, I live in NYC and have a *tiny* kitchen. I'm always trying to pare down my condiments, but then keep coming across recipes that use very specific kinds of vinegar. I honestly end up avoiding the recipe as not to have to buy another bottle that will sit unused after one recipe.
Right now I have a white balsamic vinegar which I love for salad dressings and a chinese rice wine vinegar I use all the time in Asian marinades and dressings. Are there any other vinegars that have good multi-purpose use? I'm not a huge of regular balsamic, fyi. I've been curious about wine and cider vinegars, but the prices seem to range so much, and I have so little knowledge, I've never bought one.
Good old Heinz cider vinegar I find is a pantry must have staple. Cheap white vinegar is useful for more than cooking and is a good cleaning agent. I buy the "O" brands of wine vinegars, sherry, zin or cab and champange at TJ Maxx. They are in very slender bottles that do not take up much room.
You need the different vinegars for different purposes. The three most basic and called for in recipes:
1. Cider vinegar (Bragg unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar is my preferred brand) -- is usually used in baking and savory preparations where a fruitier note is required. I also like in salad dressings and all sorts of other preparations.
2. Red wine vinegar (Spectrum Naturals garners the foodie raves) -- is usually used in salad dressings and marinades for a winey note. But I often prefer fresh citrus juice instead (or in addition).
3. White vinegar -- if you want to do any kind of pickling, it is essential. Also irreplaceable for all sorts of household tasks.
Balsamic vinegar is something I once used with abandon and now hardly use. (I rather use vincotto.)
Rice vinegar is nice to have, but again not essential unless you are cooking Asian cuisine. And Asian cuisines have myriad other vinegars, too....
I personally LOVE champagne vinegar, but if I had to choose only one other to have it would be red wine vinegar. It is used in alot of recipes, and has a neutral enough flavor that you can sub it in when a recipe calls for something obscure (you won't get the flavor, but you'll get the acid). My other two must-haves are the ones you currently have stashed.