The origin of the word vinegar comes from the French vin aigre which translates to sour wine. Vinegar is made through a process caused by bacterial activity that changes fermented liquids such as beer, wine or cider into acetic acid – it is what makes vinegar sour. Vinegar is very versatile and should be a staple in our homes as it is great for cleaning, diminishing odors, and can actually remove product buildup from your hair. Distilled vinegar simply means that the base mixture is separated from the liquid part, creating a weaker version of white vinegar. Plain white vinegar is very harsh.
Where Did Vinegar Originate?
It is said that vinegar came to be because wine had been accidentally fermented for too long. And even though it was something that might have happened many times, the Sumerians are credited as the first recorded civilization to use it as a condiment and a preservative. The Egyptians are said to have used it for cooking back in 5,000 B.C. and the Greek physician, Hippocrates, is said to have prescribed it to his patients. Later on, the French started producing vinegar by leaving it in wine casks for up to six months to get it to sour.
White Vinegar Vs. Distilled Vinegar
White vinegar and distilled vinegar are both used for many of the same purposes: cooking, pickling and cleaning, but there are some differences. It is generally accepted that distilled vinegar is more purified than white. Plus, the way they are produced is also a bit different.
White vinegar, which is clear and is made of sugar cane, is also called spirit vinegar. It is made by acid fermentation or by combining acetic acid and water. The acetic acid content is about 5 to 20 percent. Distilled vinegar, also referred to as virgin vinegar, can be made using any vinegar such as wine, fruit, balsamic, rice or malt. The colorless solution, which is less harsh than white vinegar, is 5 percent to 8 percent acetic acid in water.
Homemade Vinegar From Wine
Total Time: varies | Prep Time: 5 minutes
- 4 cups white or red wine (avoid wine with sulfites)
- 4 cups water
- mother of vinegar (Bragg brand is easy to find online)
- Mix wine and water in a nonreactive (preferably glass) container. Add mother of vinegar based on directions on the package.
- Cover with cheesecloth, paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Snap on a rubber band to keep it secure.
- Let it sit in a dark place with temperature that is between 70 to 80 F. Check on it every few days.
- After a couple of weeks you may notice a skin forming on top. Do not disturb it as it is a new mother and it helps to facilitate the process. At the end of two months start tasting. Be careful not to disturb the mother. It should start smelling vinegary. If it doesn't taste tangy, wait two more weeks. If it is too tart, add a little water.
- Once it tastes like vinegar, bottle it in a swing top or airtight bottle.
Since most wines are 12 to 14 percent alcohol, it should be diluted. Wine's high alcohol content could interfere with the outcome. This recipe should result in a mild vinegar. For a more intense-tasting vinegar, make a 2:1 mix, so two cups of wine to one cup of water.