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white vinegar = bitter soup?

unpoedic Aug 25, 2010 01:05 PM

Earlier today I tossed together a crock-pot beef stew using a recipe from RecipeLion.com (see below). Among the ingredients: 1 1/2 c. white vinegar. Two hours into the cooking process the soup tastes strongly of vinegar...and little else. Can I safely assume the bitterness will dissipate over time, or have I just unwittingly sacrificed good meat and vegetables?



  1. m
    mangetoutoc Aug 26, 2010 02:08 AM

    In my experience, it would depend upon how much stock/meat/etc is in there. I learned a pot roast recipe from my Gram which starts with a pretty solid amount of vinegar, about a cup for a family-sized pot. Initially, one would think it's awful, since the flavors haven't had time to get cohesive. But, after 3-4 hours of simmering away, the horrid vinegar taste turns into in a really delicious and mellow zingy tang to add some brightness to the heavier meatiness. Nowadays, some 30 years into cooking it every so often, I've gotten to where I know how just how nasty it should be at the start to taste perfect at the end.

    Hopefully, you try again and find yourself pleasantly surprised with a yummy stew, in the end.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mangetoutoc
      unpoedic Aug 26, 2010 03:41 AM

      I ended up rinsing the meat and vegetables (yes, I'm a cheapskate) and beginning again with a completely new recipe. After 10 hrs. of low, slow cooking, the vinegar taste remains. Perhaps I should have my tongue examined?

      The meat per vinegar ratio is an interesting theory. I did use under the recommended amount of meat by about a half pound.

      1. re: unpoedic
        mangetoutoc Aug 27, 2010 07:26 PM

        *heh* I'd probably do the same. Wasting food is a hanging offense in our house.

        Definitely, meat/vinegar and esp stock/vinegar proportion is critical, as well as what all else is in the pot. If it's any help, what I use is generally a 3-5 # roast or, if I'm inclined, stewing chuck (usually leaning to the large side), 1 onion, a couple of carrots, 4-6 cloves of garlic, 1-2 # worth of mushroom stems, a mess of tomato paste (probably about a cup or so ... I just scoop it in by eye anymore), and at least 6-8 cups of beef stock to that cup of vinegar when starting. It should taste quite vinegary but not utterly disgusting. After browning & reserving the meat and sweating the veg, I add the t.paste and let it cook up a bit while stirring to coat everything before deglazing with the vinegar, adding stock & returning meat to the pot to come to a boil. Simmering time is usually about 3-4 hours minimum before straining and adding the final veg, mushroom caps, and potatoes (which thicken it up, too ... WIN!).

        I'll probably get around to doing a real recipe with steps, photos, etc sometime soon for my blog so, when I do, I'll try to remember to post something here. It's one of my most reliable fool-proof meals, actually the first thing I made for the in-laws when we first met, so I love to share it.

    2. chefj Aug 25, 2010 04:56 PM

      Why does your vinegar taste"bitter" it should only be sour.

      1. boogiebaby Aug 25, 2010 04:19 PM

        That's a lot of vinegar for a stew. Sounds like it's a typo to me -- I'd guess 1.5 tbsp of vinegar, not cups.

        3 Replies
        1. re: boogiebaby
          ipsedixit Aug 25, 2010 04:26 PM

          I don't think it's a typo, the linked recipe is for 1.5 gallons of stew.

          Plus, you're supposed to cook for an additional 8 hours after the initial 2 hours. OP has only done the 2 hours thus far.

          Cooking will cook off some of the vinegar flavor.

          1. re: ipsedixit
            boogiebaby Aug 25, 2010 08:38 PM

            That's what happens when I try to read posts at work! I skimmed the recipe but didn't pay attention to the quantiities and also didn't realize the OP was tasting the stew before the cooking time was finished.

            1. re: ipsedixit
              unpoedic Aug 26, 2010 03:43 AM

              (Please see follow-up response to mangetoutoc.)

          2. n
            nuts4food Aug 25, 2010 01:10 PM

            I once added too much vinegar while pickling peppers and my mom fixed it by adding honey and a bit more water. I think if after two hours it tastes so strongly of vinegar, it will stick. I would try to balance the sour with sweet and see what happens. I would also add more tomato paste.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nuts4food
              unpoedic Aug 25, 2010 01:22 PM

              Thank you for your response, and so prompt! I tried your suggestions (and other frantic measures) and it would seem there's simply no salvaging the glob, my face has acquired a permanent twinge from repeated bitter tastings. If nothing else I have learned the hard way this recipe is a fail, not to be recommended. Now to throw together a backup dinner and resume my quest for The Perfect Beef Stew.

              Thanks again. We tried. :)

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