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Mar 1, 2009 12:11 PM

How many vinegars can I *get by* with?

I currently have on hand balsamic, Champagne, red wine vinegar and plain white vinegar. Do you think that's adequate? I'd be willing to add one or two more if there's strong argument for one. Or perhaps one I just haven't thought of. Lately I seem to be using fresh Meyer lemon juice in place of vinegar in salad dressings. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. The one I'd to your collection is (unseasoned) rice wine vinegar. It's not as acidic as many others, has a slightly sweet flavor, and makes a great dressing for veggies all on its own as well as being an ingredient in Chinese and Japanese (or Asian-style) preps. Try thinly sliced cucumbers sprinkled with rice vinegar mixed with a pinch each sugar and salt and allowed to sit for half an hour.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      Oops, I forgot I DO have rice vinegar!

    2. If you are not using either a banyuls red or Martin Pouret red vinegar, perhaps you should include these in your bunch. l cook with gallons of cider vinegar as well. A new high-priced vinegar has recently come on the market that may make you forget about balsamic. Made of sherry vinegar by solera method than aged again when in this country in old maple syrup barrels, it is exceptional. Like the original balsamics before many were adulterated, so concentrated and syrupy. Just put on finger and enjoy. Brand name is Blis elixir, fabulous

      6 Replies
      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        Please, any idea or anywhere to direct me as to how to make my own sherry vinegar. I need it to be kosher and cannot find it anywhere. I've been looking for two years. I had a lead through Chowhound, wrote to a chef, and never received a reply. I'd love to make my own. I'll take any nugget of help! Thank you!

        1. re: samsaulavi

          First you're going to need Palomino Sherry. Easy enough to find.

          Next you're going to need a mother. Ideally you could find a sherry vinegar culture, but that may be a challenge. Cider, wine, and malt vinegar cultures are readily available. The wine vinegar variety is probably your best bet. If you have a bottle of unpasteurized wine vinegar with an active mother (a jellyfish-looking thing that floats in the bottle), you can use a bit of that.

          Sherry vinegar is aged in oak for at least six months and up to, well, centuries (in the solera system, each bottle contains a very small amount of the oldest stuff the winery ever made). At home, you're probably better off using the CA winemaker's cheat - age the vinegar in a crock, along with handful of oak chips.

          You could even do a variation on the solera method - make a few gallons, and after six months of aging draw off a bottle or two. Replace the wood chips, top up the crock with fresh sherry, and let the vinegar go back to aging. Some of your very first batch will be in every bottle, and complexity and depth of flavor will develop over the years.

          Good luck!

            1. re: samsaulavi

              making a vinegar needs a yeast mother. you cannot have yeast during passover, right?

              1. re: alkapal

                It's been a long time since I lived in a household that observed any dietary restrictinos, but AFAIR only grain yeasts are chametz. Otherwise wine - which is fermented with yeast, and is an essential part of Pesach - would be forbidden.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  alan, you may be right. i was just thinking logically. in wine, the yeast is no longer in the wine. if one is in the process of *making* vinegar, however, the yeast is active. i'm not jewish, but i understand the symbolic reason behind getting rid of the yeast (leavening = sin, pride, self-justification). however, the kosher dietary laws are far beyond the torah's proscriptions. about these i have no idea.

          1. To your list and Ms McGrath's, I'd add apple cider vinegar, and another balsamic (one to cook with and one to cherish). The apple cider adds a brightness to pork, soup, stews and potatoes - to me it tastes like a sunny day in autumn. I use all of these vinegars but always look first to lemons or limes.

            6 Replies
            1. re: alwayscooking

              That brings up another question. Since I have a friend who's been bringing me Meyer lemons, can I substitute them for vinegar in more than just salad dressing? Hadn't really thought of that.

              1. re: c oliver

                Since the role of acid in cooking is to add a certain dimension to dishes, in many instances they're interchangeable. Exceptions include when the point is the particular flavor of the vinegar and when the vinegar is used as a preservative (e.g., pickling, including refrigerator pickles).

                Something to keep in mind is that Meyer lemons are much less acidic than standard Eurekas. Using Meyer lemon juice is closer to using orange juice than regular lemon or lime juice in terms of acidity.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Excellent poin t about the lower acidity.

                  1. re: cheesecake17

                    Me, too! I think I may be out of my league with some of the vinegar experts here. However, I thought I liked apple cider vinegar until I had it with mother. Know I really love apple cider vinegar!

                2. that's pretty much what I have, balsamic, champagne, and a sherry. If I had to add some more, plain white, and rice.

                  1. I see that you have also rice wine vinegar, that one is really necessary for dipping sauces and dressings. It's an old standby but apple cider vinegar is one of my favorites. If I want tarragon vinegar, I can make a small batch for what I need immediately.
                    I too love to use citrus for the acid I love lemon and olive oil, they are wonderful paired together. One of my favorite salads is arugula, artichoke and avocado with olive oil and lemon juice, cracked pepper and sea salt. SO fresh tasting!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      I am totally addicted to arugula so thanks for this suggestion. Do you mean artichoke or the hearts? If hearts, marinated or canned?

                      1. re: c oliver

                        As often as I make this salad and as much as I love to cook I don't use the fresh. I buy lovely artichokes in a jar packed in water from Trader Joes, they are the hearts with some stem and a few tender leaves. Actually they are quite good, and not as expensive as the canned hearts. Yes, I am another one that loves arugula, and I had this salad at Prima in Walnut Creek CA, a few years ago. At the time they charged about $10 for it, but by far it was the best thing I ate that night. I am totally addicted to it, I could eat a bucket load of it this salad. No don't sub those jarred marinated artichokes whatever you do, they are not for this salad.

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          Thnaks so much and also thanks for the tip about the TJs hearts. Yes, canned ones are SO expensive. Have you ever used or do you think frozen ones would work?