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It's all about Vinegar!

I was just curious to see what people had to say about vinegar. I have made flavor infused vinegars, bought infused vinegars from the store, and really enjoyed different brands of vinegar from specialty shops. Recently I have just licked up a white balsamic, fig infused vinegar from my local grocery store.

1) What is your vinegar of choice? on what?

2) Any specialty or infused you would like to recommend?

3) Any additional provocative vinegar thoughts?

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  1. Balsamic... ON EVERYTHING!!! bread, pasta, salad, fruit, cheese... you name it! I also like apple cider vinegar in salads and red wine vinegar in salad dressings.

    Anyone have a favorite balsamic that's wonderful and not over $30???

    1. I'm also a huge balsamic fan. I've recently started experimenting with different vinegars, including an ice wine vinegar I found at the market last weekend (in Toronto). It's delicious in a basic vinaigrette.

      1. I love vinegar! On the flavor spectrum I really prefer tart/acid flavors. I probably have a dozen different kinds of vinegar in the cupboard. My favorite specialty vinegar is the Apricot Lavendar Balsamic vinegar from Big Paw: http://bigpawgrub.com/index.php?main_... Unlike a lot of flavored/infused vinegars, I think this one balaces the sweet/herbal flavors very well. It's good just sprinkled plain on mixed greens.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Ruth, is there any stores in the Bay Area that sell Big Paw or is it online only? Do you have any other favorite vinegars that are available at most stores?

          1. re: hhc

            Big Paw sells at farmers' markets -- I don't have a complete list, but I've seen them at three different ones in Oakland: Old Oakland Friday, Grand Lake Saturday and Montclair Sunday.

        2. 1) My favorite vinegar of choice came from a small family winery in Gilroy, CA that apparently is no longer in business...such a shame! It was a red vinegar that made incredible salad dressings.
          2) No recommendations, although I'm sure enjoying the pleasure of combining red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, and citron honey jam from TJ! Zowie! That's a fine dipping sauce for...just about anything!
          3) I have just a little bit left of the provocative and legendary (almost extinct) Gilroy red wine vinegar and I know there is "mother" at the bottom of that bottle. I'm going to have to drink more red wine in the next few months (give me a REAL problem, please!) to add to the "mother", just to see if I can make more of the good stuff. Has anyone ever done this: made homemade vinegar with the "mother"? Does it ever turn out the same? Would I be better off finding a local winery and asking if they have any vinegar for sale?

          1. In order of preference:

            1. Rice

            2. Balsamic

            3. Champagne

            2 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              I'm always curious when people make definitive statements like that -- don't you find that different vinegars are better for different things? Or is that always your "order of preferrence"?

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                You're absolutely right that different vinegars are suited for different things.

                But my preference ranking above is based on how each of the vinegars tastes on its own. I just like the taste of rice vinegar better than balsamic.

            2. Not counting flavored vinegars, I always have red wine, white wine, champagne, rice, balsamic (real and cheap), apple cider, and distilled vinegars on hand. But my absolute favorite for flavor is aged sherry vinegar. Delish.

              5 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                I second the recommendation for Sherry vinegar. I picked up some in Jerez and it's my favorite overall, with balsamic a close second.

                1. re: bkhuna

                  What do you do with Sherry vinegar? I've got a bottle in my cupboard, but I'm not sure how best to use it. Salad dressing? Sauces? Cocktails? (Just kidding on that last one - but not completely...)


                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    Here's a link to a prune/pear/saffron compote that uses it - delicious with blue cheese: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/454294 . I also use it in the dressing for frisee aux lardons and in salads. One of my favorites.

                    I usually have white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar and rice vinegar. Not a fan of cider vinegar or balsamic really, but I do have a tiny bottle of beautiful aged balsamic that I occasionally drizzle on some great parmesan or strawberries.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Wow - that compote sounds great. Thanks!


                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        NP - it was the one redeeming recipe in that COM!

              2. Balsamic is my favorite by far. I also love rice, sherry and champagne.

                I love the fruity infused vinegars- strawberry, raspberry, etc. The problem is that I love the flavor but never actually use them. Shy of salads (which my s/o will not eat) there's not a whole lot to do with them.

                6 Replies
                1. re: wandajune6

                  If you want to zip up a sauteed chicken ----anything! ----use a bit of your flavored vinegars to deglaze your saute pan and make a sauce. if you wish, make a rice dish that incorporates a bit of the vinegar and then top it with your sauce. This works particularly well with raspberry vinegar...and would probably be dandy if you wanted to add a bit o' chicken to one of those spinach-strawberry salads.

                  1. re: wandajune6

                    I have a go-to sauce that uses vinegar: a mustard-vinegar-cream sauce. I use this over chicken cutlets or veal or pork chops/cutlets. Here's a basic ratio to get you started, but feel free to improvise.

                    2 tablespoons chicken stock
                    3 tablespoons vinegar
                    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
                    1/4 cup cream (your choice ranging from heavy to half and half)

                    After sauteeing the meat/poultry, remove it and set aside, keeping it warm. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Combine and heat thoroughly. Serve.

                    Old style: Pour the sauce over the chicken/veal/pork. New style: Place the meat on the plate and drizzle the sauce on the plate. Elaborated version: Place the meat on a small mound of lightly sauteed baby spinach and pour the sauce over both.

                    1. re: Indy 67

                      Does the combo of vinegar and heat cause the cream to curdle?

                      1. re: Humbucker

                        No. I don't use the highest heat -- nothing more than medium. The moderate heat is possible since I'm not trying to warm a large amount of liquid. Finally, the stock and mustard seems to hold everything together within curdling.

                      2. re: Indy 67

                        This sounds great and so easy! What kind of vinegar is best?

                        1. re: rouxmaker

                          For appearance sake, I use a white-colored vinegar. When the browned bits get incorporated into the sauce and the mustard is added, the final color of the sauce is a pale to medium tan. I've never used my Sherry vinegar, but there's really no reason why that wouldn't both taste good and look appealing. I wouldn't use a red wine vinegar. Beyond that lone restriction, I've happily used a number of vinegars: white wine with tarragon, citrus-champagne vinegar, and Yuzu rice wine vinegar. The last vinegar adds a touch of sweetness, although much less than balsamic.

                    2. I'm not a huge vinegar fan myself, but there are two vinegars that I find utterly irresistible. First off, a good quality balsamic. I just love it used in almost any way, whether it's on bread with olive oil or drizzled over strawberries. Second, chingkiang vinegar. In my mind, it's completely essential in soy-based dipping sauces.

                      1. I think rice wine vinegar is often overlooked. I like it in salads, but I absolutely love using it to season boiled edamame, still in its shell (along with soy sauce, salt, and tons of black pepper). It gives such a tasty, tangy touch to otherwise mild edamame.

                        1. In terms of frequency of use:

                          Cider vinegar, unfiltered.

                          Red and white wines vinegar, not too sour. Spectrum, e.g.

                          Muscat wine vinegar (which I find vastly superior to what passes for balsamic these days - I use it to round out the red/white vinegars above).

                          White vinegar - still indispensible for pickling (it's a very clean flavor in pickling) and cleaning.

                          Sherry vinegar.

                          On rare occasions, vincotto or balsamic vinegar. I find most balsamic vinegars (even mid-level ones) to be overused without warrant.

                          Provocative vinegar thought: Americans tend to use too much vinegar in our dressings, and for that reason have overcompensated by using faux balsamic vinegars. In either case, we want bolder flavorings because we cannot seem to appreciate subtler ones (either due to aging or prolonged exposure to processed foods).

                          So, bottom line, keep it simple. If the vinegar calls attention to itself, it's probably overused.

                          1. I recently realized that I need to expand my vinegar options. I was a sherry vinegar fan in the 80's and have not explored that recently. I am currently playing with malt vinegar. I know it is harsh and strong but I am cooking with bold stuff (SE Asian funky and Korean) and it has been fun. I come from a culture that only used distilled white vinegar which some say is only fit for household cleaning purposes. We routinely doctored our soups with a bit of it (Bavarian/Austrian/Hungarian). It taught me that vinegar can adjust the balance of a dish. So many things to play with....

                            1. No Filipino table would be set without the requisite bowl of vinegar and garlic to compliment the already vinegary dishes with which the table is laden. Accordingly I'm something of a vinegar fiend, currently stocking in my larder: apple cider, rice wine, chardonnay, red wine, cabernet, chianti, white, balsamic and malt vinegars. Infused vinegars I find redundant as I can simply make that on my own for half the price.

                              As others have mentioned, each vinegar has a unique taste and profile and differs the way a cabernet would differ from a riesling. While I would never chug malt vinegar, I have seen cocktails made with sherry vinegar and have been known to throw back a shot of apple cider vinegar on occasion.

                              1. Sherry vinegar- did you know it is aged in oak casks and all, just like wine? I always have a bottle of at least 25-year aged - great for mixing with EVOO and some garlic, and dipping bread!