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A Discussion on Vinegar

Dearest Chowhounders,

After reading--and only reading--Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, I was inspired to learn more about the many uses and types of vinegars. He suggests using it to elevate the flavors of a dish but then teasingly doesn't expound on the idea.

So what vinegars do you use in certain dishes and sauces? What works and what doesn't? And what other ways do you incorporate this versatile ingredient (vinaigrettes, of course! etc)?

Thank you! I'm a newbsauce.

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  1. I make a reduction of Balsamic vinegar by simply putting some in a small fry pan, heating it slowly until it coats a spoon...
    Take a grilled Portobello mushroom, throw a couple of sautéed onions on top, top that with some Gruyere, melt that under the broiler drizzle some of the reduction on top and you have yourself a great main course!

    1 Reply
    1. re: PHREDDY

      That sounds wonderful! Do you have measurements. I have everything except the Portobello and can get that tomorrow. Regardless of whether you have measurements, I am going to try this, but I hope you have measurements.

    2. I have been meaning to find out about Chinese black vinegar and its use.

      Currently at home, I have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar, seasoned and plain rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, clear balsamic vinegar, balsamic vinegar glaze, champagne vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar....geez...i didn't know I had so many...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Monica

        I have a bottle of Koon Chun, I'm still trying to find more uses for it outside what you see in most Chinese recipes. The spice flavor of it has me thinking of an injection for smoked pork shoulder. I'll get around to it eventually.

        1. re: Monica

          In addition to the above vinegars, I keep dry sherry vinegar for sauces and vinaigrettes. Most of the Jerez sherry producers make one, very intense and worth the extra cost.

          When I make a quart or 750 ml of tarragon vinegar, I absolutely stuff the bottle with clean young shoots, then add cider vinegar and store it . After two weeks it is wonderful, but it will keep for a year in the fridge.

        2. The most used vinegar in my house for seasoning is plain rice vinegar because the flavor isn't as harsh as white. I use it in coleslaw, potato salad, deviled eggs, chicken salad, noodle or pasta salad etc.
          The runner up is apple cider vinegar which I use in a lot of the same things as rice vinegar to mix it up a bit but mostly where BBQ sauce or grilled pork is concerned.
          Sweet and sour tomato sauce for cabbage uses red wine vinegar and I'll use a little in a lot of beef dishes to add a little bite.
          To tell the truth though for the flavor of vinegar with meat I rely on a variety of hot sauces since you have so many to choose from now days. I love my hot sauces.

          1. An easy way to try out different vinegars and see how they affect taste would be to make a vinaigrette (with the same base ingredient each time) and simply switch out the type of vinegar each time.

            Another - I think sadly underused - way to use vinegar is to make gastriques. These are essentially caramels that you deglaze with vinegar to make a very nice sauce to accompany loads of dishes.

            1. What I have at home: white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, "regular" balsamic vinegar, a 35+ year aged balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, and probably one or two others, including a couple of herb-flavored vinegars purchased from Boston Olive Oil Co.

              I use the champagne and pom vinegars for vinaigrettes.
              Champagne, red wine, apple cider and balsamic in marinades for meat.
              Aged balsamic for drizzling over fresh fruit.
              White vinegar - most often for cleaning.
              Rice wine vinegar - Asian-style dressings and stir-frys.