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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.

              1. I'm going to play this game only because I come at it from two different angles.

                I cook with vinegar all the time.
                But--- I also buy white vinegar in 2 gallon jugs or 5 gallon pails and also use it to de-rust tools to which I refinish and ship around the world once cleaned and sold.

                Yep. That rusty rusty made in USA ball peen hammer that I bought for 50 cents and dipped adn repolished and sold to an an Austrailian for $25 was after I used the same bottle of white vinegar to make BBQ sauce for my pulled pork. Same stuff. I promise.

                Thus why I post before and after pics.

                Vinegar-its not just for cooking. LOLZ.

                I use cider vinegar in potato or macaroni salads as well as in my currywurst sauce.
                White vinegar for BBQ sauce, slaw dressing, and God knows what else.
                Too many bottles of balsamic to list. Some I resuce like mentioned above.
                Rice vinegar for sushi all day long along with mirin.
                White ehine vinegar for sauces and the same for tarragon vinegar.
                Red wine vinegar for sauerbraten and many a salad dressing.

                Like you, Asian black vinegar is on my list this month. I have several local sources.

                Trying to justify white balsamic now but pantry space resists.

                Vinegar" darn tasty and caustic, all at the same time.

                Yum. :-)

                2 Replies
                1. re: jjjrfoodie

                  Another non-cooking use is to soothe a sunburn. Put some on a washcloth and pat over the burn. Great to clean the microwave too.

                  1. re: hippioflov

                    And spray it on sidewalk weeds instead of roundup

                2. I always have an abundance of fresh herbs in my garden, so I make a lot of herbed vinegars. I use plain white, red wine and rice vinegars for these, mostly. So easy and fun to play with. White vinegar with onion chive and tarragon, red wine with basil and Greek oregano, rice wine with summer savory are my staples, then I experiment from there.

                  I use them all the time, especially good as a finishing splash in soups, stews, over roasted and grilled vegetables. I make gastriques frequently....and also like to splash some over specialty sausages and cabbage.

                  1. I have red wine vinegar, season rice wine vinegar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and balsamic vinegar (which thankfully doesn't seem to be used as much these days).

                    White vinegar I find is my duct tape in the kitchen - add a small bit to soapy water when you clean your windows and they will be streak free.

                    Also for quick pickles, hot sauce, etc. etc

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sparky403

                      Try sherry vinegar. It has a lot of what I like about balsamic without being overly sweet. It is also more acidic which makes it easier to use in a dressing and such.

                      1. re: sparky403

                        Totally agree about white vinegar! So versatile and useful in every room of the house.

                      2. jjjrfoodie: Amazing! I have a few rusty bits I'd like to clean up and will try that. Any helpful hints?

                        I use many kinds of vinegar. I have several apple cider vinegars, including Bragg's which I like because it is tasty and has the mother--it seems alive.

                        Try making this:

                        Coarsely chop an onion, a few cloves garlic, a few hot peppers, a cube of ginger. Add some horseradish. Poor apple cider vinegar to cover. Leave it on the counter and shake often over several weeks or bury it in the earth in a mason jar (old school). Strain and refrigerate.

                        A few shots of that in the winter will cure a cold. And it makes a killer ingredient for vinaigrette and more.

                        1. Best use in our kitchen is to make "drinking" or "sipping" vinegars. We've run the gamut of all vinegars for this, but decided this year to stick with just two: Chinese rice vinegar (black, very "hot") and apple cider vinegar (raw, "cooler"). We used these in fabulous drink recipes - surprisingly great tastes. ACV, ginger and raw honey is a favorite; ACV, garlic, honey is well-known; infuse with fresh herbs, such as basil, and berries, such as strawberries for amazing results. Black vinegar (aged) drinks are all the rage in the East, many recipes out there. Some do it every day. Some say since our water has become acidic, one has to sip these sorts of drinks every day. Who knows! Cheers!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: xyzrecipegirl

                            I am right now making a shrub of CBV strawberries and turbino sugar. I may love you for this tip!

                          2. Let's see - in my cupboards i currently have red wine vinegar [plain and with pomegranate], a regular balsamic and a higher end drizzling balsamic. white vinegar [LOTS of that, because i use it as a cleaner as well], champagne vinegar. The red wine vinegar i use for some salad dressings [like the one for a roast beef salad, and to toss roasted veggies with capers, olives, cheese for a quick lunch]. the white vinegar i use for making quick pickles and in a chicken-garlic-rosemary-white wine-vinegar braise that i LOVE]. the champagne vinegar i use for making my dad's blue cheese dressing.

                            i thought i had some sherry vinegar, but i guess i used it up. Great in salads, and in stews.

                            The balsamic i use for green salads, especially if i toss some fruit in along with the greens and veggies.

                            1. I am tcamp and I have a vinegar problem.

                              I use white vinegar in the kitchen to pickle and quick pickle onions and cukes, to descale the tea pot, to boil with water to eliminate cooking odors, in my compost bucket to minimize smells, and in many, many recipes. I also use it as a cleaner and in the laundry.

                              I use apple cider in salad dressings, marinades, and in a cold glass of water because I like the way it tastes.

                              I use seasoned and plain rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, chinese black vinegar, balsamic, and white balsamic for salad dressings, stir fries, sauces. Lately I've been sauteing peaches in butter, then adding a dash of cinnamon and white balsamic. I have some mango vinegar that pairs very well with chicken so I've been marinating with that.

                              1. A delicious way to top roasted or steamed veggies is a good slug of acv or red wine vinegar and raw honey.
                                A tablespoon of Braggs acv in about 5 oz of water is an excellent cure for heartburn. It works for me when nothing else does.

                                1. I let a batch of kombucha go too long once and it made something that tasted just like a really nice apple cider vinegar (although apparently kombucha vinegar is not a true vinegar). Wonderful in salad dressings.

                                  I find that Chinese black vinegar tastes a bit like steak sauce and is great for grilling and in BBQ sauces. A dash in Mac and cheese is also great.

                                  Also, balsamic reduced with fig jam and mustard makes a great sauce for pork or poultry.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                    ooooh. am gonna have to try that! i have fig jam and several mustards! thanks!

                                  2. For a cold, apple cider vinegar, water, and honey. You have to decide on your proportions. Heat and sip.

                                    You can make your own vinegar with fruit peels. Backwoods Home Magazine has directions. I just mix the peels, some vinegar mother, and a little water. Cover and let sit til nice and tart.

                                    1. Do you have trouble with white spots on your glassware after a trip thru the dishwasher? Put a custard cup of white vinegar on the top rack and run the dishwasher. Spots will disappear.

                                      Don't just dump vinegar in at the beginning of the cycle--the dishwasher doesn't empty completely after a cycle, to keep drain odors from entering the house. Instead, it drains off the water just before starting a new cycle. So, if you pour vinegar in before starting the cycle, it just goes down the drain.