Popular Types of Vinegar
Made from cider or apple must, which is reflected in its cider colour. Often sold as a natural product, being unfiltered and unpasteurised and with mother of vinegar present. It can be diluted with water or fruit juice as a health drink, sometimes sweetened with honey.
The Rolls-Royce of vinegars, exclusively produced in the Province of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Made with must of white Trebbiano grapes, simmered to make a concentrate. Traditional balsamic vinegar is aged for between 12 and 25 years in successively smaller wooden casks to produce a dark brown (almost black) vinegar with a rich, sweet taste. True balsamic is expensive. Always look for ‘Tradizionale’ or ‘DOC’ on the label – your guarantee that it’s the real McCoy.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena – or ‘Aceto Balsamico di Modena’
A less expensive non-DOC commercial version of the real thing, made with concentrated grape juice or must, mixed with strong vinegar, before being coloured and sweetened with caramel and sugar.
Red and White Wine
The most commonly used vinegar in central and southern Europe. Made with white or red wine, qualities vary considerably, with the best being matured in wooden casks for up to two years, in which time they develop a complex, mellow flavour. More expensive wine vinegars are made from just one grape variety, the less expensive ones from a mixture.
Made by malting barley, which turns the starch in the grain into maltose. Ale is then brewed from the maltose and converted to vinegar using specialised bacteria. Malt vinegar is typically light brown in colour but malt extract is added to give a darker colour.
Produced by fermentation of distilled alcohol, ‘white’ or ‘virgin’ vinegar is essentially 5%-8% acetic acid in water. Used in cooking and pickling as well as for medicinal, industrial and cleaning purposes.
Often found in fish and chip shops, this is not malt vinegar but a mixture of chemically-produced acetic acid, water, flavouring and caramel colouring.
Historically linked to the production of the sherries of Jerez, Spain, this is a dark mahogany-coloured vinegar with concentrated flavours developed through fermentation in old sherry casks. Fantastic for vinaigrettes!
A key ingredient in many oriental cuisines from Japan and China to southeast Asia, rice vinegar comes in white, red and black varieties and can be seasoned with spices and other flavourings. Most widely used is light white rice vinegar, a favourite in Japan for salads and pickled vegetables. Made from black glutinous rice, black rice vinegar is a key ingredient in achieving the ‘umami’ flavour in east Asia’s most popular dishes.