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How many vinegars can I *get by* with?

c oliver Mar 1, 2009 12:11 PM

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. Caitlin McGrath RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 12:22 PM

    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
      c oliver RE: Caitlin McGrath Mar 1, 2009 12:27 PM

      Oops, I forgot I DO have rice vinegar!

    2. Delucacheesemonger RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 12:24 PM

      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
        samsaulavi RE: Delucacheesemonger Mar 22, 2009 12:22 AM

        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
          alanbarnes RE: samsaulavi Mar 22, 2009 09:49 AM

          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
            c oliver RE: samsaulavi Mar 22, 2009 05:47 PM

            Found this source:


            1. re: samsaulavi
              alkapal RE: samsaulavi Mar 24, 2009 06:49 AM

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

              1. re: alkapal
                alanbarnes RE: alkapal Mar 24, 2009 07:36 AM

                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
                  alkapal RE: alanbarnes Mar 24, 2009 05:07 PM

                  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.

          2. alwayscooking RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 12:30 PM

            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
              c oliver RE: alwayscooking Mar 1, 2009 12:40 PM

              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
                Caitlin McGrath RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 12:48 PM

                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
                  c oliver RE: Caitlin McGrath Mar 1, 2009 01:01 PM

                  Excellent poin t about the lower acidity.

                2. re: c oliver
                  Delucacheesemonger RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 12:55 PM

                  Peels make a great limoncello as well

                3. re: alwayscooking
                  cheesecake17 RE: alwayscooking Mar 1, 2009 12:47 PM

                  I love apple cider vinager!

                  1. re: cheesecake17
                    samsaulavi RE: cheesecake17 Mar 22, 2009 12:26 AM

                    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!

                4. j
                  jaykayen RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 12:36 PM

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

                  1. chef chicklet RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 01:06 PM

                    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
                      c oliver RE: chef chicklet Mar 1, 2009 01:09 PM

                      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
                        chef chicklet RE: c oliver Mar 4, 2009 07:42 AM

                        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
                          c oliver RE: chef chicklet Mar 4, 2009 02:15 PM

                          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?

                    2. JonParker RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 01:19 PM

                      I find that I use sherry vinegar quite a bit. It's almost totally replaced red wine vinegar for me in cooking.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: JonParker
                        Caitlin McGrath RE: JonParker Mar 1, 2009 01:24 PM

                        I love sherry vinegar and personally, my kitchen is never without it. It has wonderful toasty, nutty flavors. I use it much more often than balsamic (I mean the non-precious kind!).

                        A favorite salad dressing during the colder months is simply equal parts sherry vinegar, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and olive oil.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                          MMRuth RE: Caitlin McGrath Mar 1, 2009 01:57 PM

                          I also use a lot of sherry vinegar - and love the idea of combining it with orange juice. I do not like apple cider vinegar, and could live without balsamic vinegar, though I do have a small ancient bottle of high quality aged vinegar. I usually have red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice wine vinegar/rice vinegar. I do like tarragon vinegar as well, and I have a Greek rose wine vinegar that I need to consume.

                          1. re: MMRuth
                            kchurchill5 RE: MMRuth Mar 1, 2009 02:18 PM

                            My bad MMRuth, I have sherry as well. I love it. I don't know how I forgot. with OJ and lime it is wonderful. I use it all the time. Thanks for the reminder. Apple juice sherry and garlic makes an awesome marinade for pork chops simple and quick. Marinade and grill. Serve with sauteed apples and coleslaw and a side of roasted green beans. A favorite simple meal.

                            1. re: MMRuth
                              KTinNYC RE: MMRuth Mar 1, 2009 03:22 PM

                              I haven't had any balsamic in the house for months and do not miss it one bit.

                              1. re: KTinNYC
                                kchurchill5 RE: KTinNYC Mar 1, 2009 04:24 PM

                                I use balsamic more than any other vinegar, I couldn't live without it

                                1. re: kchurchill5
                                  KTinNYC RE: kchurchill5 Mar 1, 2009 05:30 PM

                                  What kind do yo use? Most of the balsamic in the states is absolute garbage. It's one of those ingredients in which you get what you pay for. Because it was such a trendy product in the 90's we got inundated with junk that isn't truly balsamic vinegar at all.

                                  1. re: KTinNYC
                                    kchurchill5 RE: KTinNYC Mar 1, 2009 05:47 PM

                                    I get one from a small Italian shop down town. I don't have the bottle. sorry. It it is my green bottle on the counter. There is one whole foods carry that is also good. They are the only two that I buy. I have bought others and use them now and then but use these two for their flavor. Unfortunately I have neither bottle, sorry, but whole foods is one and the other is from Italy. Sorry I can't give you more info. I usually keep them, but in an apt. NO room. So I didn't keep it. I do use it all the times, fresh fruit, dressings, even over chicken and pork, lots of uses. I would be lost without it.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5
                                      MMRuth RE: kchurchill5 Mar 2, 2009 03:00 AM

                                      Suzanne Goin calls for less expensive balsamics - i.e., not the aged ones - in many of her recipes. I'll see if she recommends a brand. I tend to substitute a combination of red wine vinegar with a little bit of my aged balsamic.

                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                        c oliver RE: MMRuth Mar 2, 2009 06:39 AM

                                        Thanks, that would be great, MMR.

                                        1. re: c oliver
                                          MMRuth RE: c oliver Mar 3, 2009 12:26 PM

                                          She says to look for one from Modena, but not to confuse regular balsamic vinegar with "the pricier, aged vinegars labeled 'Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale', sold in small, shapely bottles."

                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                            c oliver RE: MMRuth Mar 3, 2009 12:29 PM

                                            Thanks. Those "shapely" bottles sure are pretty though, aren't they?

                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                              KTinNYC RE: MMRuth Mar 3, 2009 12:42 PM

                                              I'm a little confused, could you please clarify. So Goin suggest using any balsamic labeled Modena? I understand staying away from the Tradizionale because of the cost but does she mean the Condimento? As I understand it, regular unaged balsamic is just wine vinegar with caramel and color added.

                                              1. re: KTinNYC
                                                MMRuth RE: KTinNYC Mar 3, 2009 12:53 PM

                                                I'm not particularly familiar with balsamic vinegar - I do have one of those little bottles of v. aged balsamic vinegar. She does not mention 'Condimento' but adds, "These aged balsamics are used more as a condiment than a vinegar. Thick, syrupy, and rich, they're delicious drizzled over ...." In her recipes, she often calls for 1/4 cup or more.

                                                Edit - Don't know if this makes a difference, but she refers to balsamic "from" Modena, rather than 'labeled" Modena.

                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                  KTinNYC RE: MMRuth Mar 3, 2009 01:00 PM

                                                  Thanks, MMRuth. I'm not really that familiar with balsamic vinegar either from what I've read and tasted most balsamic vinegar just isn't very good. Here is what wikipedia has to say about Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

                                                  "These commercial grade products imitate the centuries old traditional artisan product. They are made of wine vinegar with the addition of colouring, caramel and sometimes thickeners like Guar Gum or cornflour. There is no aging involved and hundreds of thousands of litres can be produced every day."

                                2. re: MMRuth
                                  samsaulavi RE: MMRuth Mar 22, 2009 12:34 AM

                                  I have a recipe for a cranberry-sherry vinegar dressing that my brother makes. It has some nutmeg in it, salt, pepper, and oil of choice - not in front of me at the moment. The cranberry is from soaking craisins and using the juice. Since I haven't been able to find a kosher sherry vinegar, I have been using a combination of cranberry concentrate (real, not sweetened), a bit of water and sherry. It's good, though I'd love a kosher sherry vinegar or to make my own. The salad to this dressing has tangerine slices, toasted pecans and craisins over fresh spinach- if they are to a person's tastes. It sounds like a lot, though it is quite refreshing.

                                3. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                  maria_nyc RE: Caitlin McGrath Mar 22, 2009 09:42 AM

                                  I use sherry vinegar and sometimes balsamic as part of the marinate for steak it makes for a nice combo with all the other spices.

                              2. alanbarnes RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 01:32 PM

                                Just to pile on, you've gotta try aged sherry vinegar. Reserva's great, Gran Reserva's spectacular. And apple cider vinegar is my go-to for down-home type cooking. White vinegar is largely reserved for use as a household cleaner.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                  Val RE: alanbarnes Mar 1, 2009 01:39 PM

                                  For all you sherry vinegar owners: where do you buy it? Our Publix does not sell it...so I doubt that Sweetbay would. Do you order it? That's the one I don't have and I keep looking for it. Thanks!

                                  1. re: Val
                                    Delucacheesemonger RE: Val Mar 1, 2009 01:48 PM

                                    Have whole foods in Sarasota, do you have one in Naples. If not easy to get on internet, there are young, olod, and very very old as the one l described above. All wonderful and all different.

                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                      Val RE: Delucacheesemonger Mar 1, 2009 01:52 PM

                                      Deluca...yes! Yay...we do have a Whole Foods here...thanks! They opened...hmmm...about 6 months ago, right nearby! Will stop by on my way home from work this week.

                                    2. re: Val
                                      alanbarnes RE: Val Mar 1, 2009 01:56 PM

                                      We're lucky enough to have an incredible gourmet grocery in town. If you don't, maybe someplace like Whole Foods? You might also try an upscale kitchenware store like Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table. Some wine shops also carry things like vinegar and olive oil. Failing all else, mail order would work, but the stuff isn't terribly expensive, so it seems like the shipping and handling charges might exceed the cost of the vinegar itself.

                                      1. re: Val
                                        kchurchill5 RE: Val Mar 1, 2009 02:21 PM

                                        My Publix and Sweetbay both carry it in Sarasota 3 or 4 stores. If not just ask the manager, they usually can get it in. My stores always have it.

                                      2. re: alanbarnes
                                        kchurchill5 RE: alanbarnes Mar 1, 2009 02:20 PM

                                        But I do use sometimes, not often mostly to clean the coffee pot, but I do use now and then. Works great on windows too

                                        1. re: alanbarnes
                                          alwayscooking RE: alanbarnes Mar 1, 2009 02:51 PM

                                          White vinegar is also great when used in the clothes washer - it make clothes/sheets softer and it's cheaper than a fabric softener.

                                          1. re: alwayscooking
                                            kchurchill5 RE: alwayscooking Mar 1, 2009 04:25 PM

                                            Really, never new. Very interesting. I clean with it alot, windows, everyday stuff. Clothes, I'll have to try.

                                        2. kchurchill5 RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 01:42 PM

                                          A standard for me, red, white, rice wine, cider, balsamic, champagne I always have them. Lemon and lime juice and yes I use those stupid plastic limes, just in case. Fresh, but you never know. It works just fine as a substitute. Also have sesame, olive 2 kinds and vegetable oil. My stables. Wouldn't leave ... (stay) home without them.

                                          1. Sam Fujisaka RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 03:01 PM

                                            Seconding some thoughts: white, red wine, balsamic, and rice wine. For me no others, but I use a lot of each of the four.

                                            1. m
                                              MazDee RE: c oliver Mar 1, 2009 07:13 PM

                                              Instead of buying another vinegar now, why not wait until you have a recipe that calls for one? I have red wine, balsamic (the cheap kind), cider (which is essential for my potato salad among other things), rice wine, and I use them all. I also have some berry vinegars that just sit there. After reading the comments, I would like to try sherry vinegar, but probably will wait until I want it for a specific dish. After all, it's probably only a couple miles away! Sometimes I buy white vinegar for household use or pickling.

                                              1. pikawicca RE: c oliver Mar 3, 2009 12:35 PM

                                                I recently acquired a bottle of Maple Syrup vinegar. It's delicious.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: pikawicca
                                                  c oliver RE: pikawicca Mar 3, 2009 12:43 PM

                                                  Ooh, doesn't that sound good?

                                                2. h
                                                  Harters RE: c oliver Mar 3, 2009 01:33 PM

                                                  We usually have:

                                                  Red wine, white wine, cider, balsamic, sherry and malt.

                                                  I could get by without the balsamic, sherry and cider.

                                                  1. sfumato RE: c oliver Mar 3, 2009 04:25 PM

                                                    Since you have rice vinegar, I'd say cider vinegar. We use it often for all the reasons already listed.

                                                    1. a
                                                      adamshoe RE: c oliver Mar 3, 2009 05:26 PM

                                                      Lurking in cupboard now: rice wine vinegar, aged sherry vinegar, cider vinegar, red wine vin., balsamic (the cheapstuff...), white vin., and white wine vin. Looked for a tarragon vin. a few months ago when making green goddess dressing but couldn't find it so just subbed fresh tarragon. I love vinegar! Almost out of my 50 yr. old sherry vin. that was a gift from a friend in the trade. Crying silently.... adam

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: adamshoe
                                                        Delucacheesemonger RE: adamshoe Mar 3, 2009 05:58 PM

                                                        Have a fifty year old sherry, dry and flavorful, is wonderful. Look at one of my earlier posts on this discussion above, talk about a syrupy sherry one.

                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                          c oliver RE: Delucacheesemonger Mar 3, 2009 05:59 PM

                                                          These sherry vinegars have definitely gotten my attention.

                                                      2. alkapal RE: c oliver Mar 4, 2009 06:22 AM

                                                        let's see:
                                                        1. white
                                                        2. apple cider
                                                        3. rice wine
                                                        4. red wine
                                                        5. champagne
                                                        6. balsamic
                                                        7. tarragon
                                                        8. sherry
                                                        9. white wine
                                                        9 essentials (mr. monk is now obsessing over getting an even "10").

                                                        OK, GOT IT!
                                                        10. chinese black vinegar

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                          c oliver RE: alkapal Mar 4, 2009 06:44 AM

                                                          Oh, I forgot. I have Chinese red vinegar! Thanks for the reminder :)

                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                            alkapal RE: c oliver Mar 4, 2009 06:45 AM

                                                            dang, another condiment i gotta buy!

                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                              c oliver RE: alkapal Mar 4, 2009 06:53 AM

                                                              Too bad groups of chowhounds don't live in the same neighborhoods. We could share condiments! Hmm, I have keys to two of my neighbors' homes (they're second homes). I could start keeping things there, couldn't I?

                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                alkapal RE: c oliver Mar 4, 2009 06:58 AM

                                                                c -- EX-cellent idea! {;^D.

                                                        2. kattyeyes RE: c oliver Mar 14, 2009 05:52 PM

                                                          Hey there! We just picked up a fantastic pomegranate balsamic. Enjoyed it straight as salad dressing tonight. What a flavor! Really outstanding:

                                                          Maybe make room for one more? :



                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: kattyeyes
                                                            c oliver RE: kattyeyes Mar 14, 2009 09:53 PM

                                                            Doesn't that sound good? But I'm trying to pare down!

                                                            Just sent friends home after Hazan's carbonara and MMRuth's arugula salad. All three dogs bonded well. Night, night.

                                                          2. Scriever RE: c oliver Mar 21, 2009 09:00 AM

                                                            Pick up a couple specialty varieties for fun. A few favorites I've been burning through:

                                                            PURPLE SWEET POTATO VINEGAR - Great flavor, versatile. Aces for hollandaise and making a vinaigrette with pumpkin seed oil.

                                                            BLOOD ORANGE VINEGAR - Makes a great reduction to pair with homemade orange vanilla ice cream.

                                                            PASSION FRUIT VINEGAR - Good in marinade.

                                                            1. t
                                                              Toni6921 RE: c oliver Mar 21, 2009 09:40 AM

                                                              Kylie Kwong, who used to be on the old Discovery Home Network, turned me on to Chinese Red and Black Vinegars. They have become a staple in my kitchen. Recently, I found out about Blood Orange Vinegar, which is wonderful to use in a vinaigrette for fruit salads. Kat'z's in California makes a wonderful Sauvignon Vinegar that is very special, too. It's great to finish a sauce, and it's good in marinades and salad dressings.

                                                              1. gourmandadventurer RE: c oliver Mar 21, 2009 09:43 AM

                                                                As a random aside, several people I know including a doctor swear by the health benefits of taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day. It's also nice to have around to splash on salads so you might want to add that to the pantry!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: gourmandadventurer
                                                                  Val RE: gourmandadventurer Mar 21, 2009 03:28 PM

                                                                  I've seen that tip on the internet...I too am a lover of vinegar...I notice that I do love strongly flavored foods and am always seeking out low-sodium ways to achieve those flavors: vinegar does the trick. But, is there any scientific data to support the claim? Not sure I've seen it ... but I still love the vinegar!

                                                                2. LindaWhit RE: c oliver Mar 22, 2009 09:54 AM

                                                                  I have balsamic (30+ years aged and regular), cabernet, apple cider, rice wine, champagne, white wine balsamic (I like it for vinaigrettes), blood orange and raspberry vinegars. Used to have sherry vinegar, but I believe I used it up and never replaced it. Oh - and regular white vinegar (mostly used for cleaning <g>). I think that's it.

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