Vinegar has been a part of our diet for centuries! Imagine that traces of vinegar have been found around the pyramids of Egypt from 3.000 B.C.!!
Where does vinegar come from? Well, my answer is…. from any food that contains saccharides. In other words… sugar. These sugars go through a type of fermentation and transform into alcohol (like wine from must and beer from barley for instance). A similar process takes place in some microorganisms that transform alcohol into vinegar. What is created is a very weak acid which is called acetic acid that preserves some aromas from the original food like grapes, apples or rice.
There are many strange vinegars in the world, such as.. sherry vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, kiwi vinegar etc. In Greece, people’s tastes are quite simple so I will only tell you the types of vinegar you can find here.
The most common type of vinegar is made from red wine. Red in color but with a variety of different tastes, which depend on the type of wine used. It can range from quite mild or weak to very strong in taste. In Greece one of the most popular vinegars, which happen to be my favorite wine vinegar is “TOP” that is perfect with salads, beans and pork.
There is also vinegar made from white wine… Lighter in color and a little milder in taste from the red wine vinegar. It can easily substitute red wine vinegar in our recipes and it is actually much better to be used in recipes where you don’t want the color of the food to change, like in tzatziki sauce for instance. It also suits dishes with chicken and fish, perfectly.
Let’s move on to apple cider vinegar. Vinegar made from apple cider which has a lovely dark golden color. It is one of my favorite vinegars with a wonderful aroma and quite mild in taste. It is perfect for salads and pickling.
The next vinegar would be estragon vinegar. It carries the aroma of one of my favorite aromatics and it is perfect for salads, marinades and especially with seafood.
Balsamic vinegar! It is very dark in color and has a very intense yet mild taste. Traditionally it is made in Italy from the juice of grapes (grape must) instead of wine. Contrary to the rest of the vinegars, it is not made by alcohol fermentation. Its price ranges from extremely affordable to extremely expensive depending on its aging. The older it is, the sweeter and thicker it is. There is also white balsamic vinegar of course as well as apple balsamic vinegar and one from thyme honey! All of these varieties and many more are available from the company “TOP” in Greece. All you have to do is try all of them and choose your favorite according to your tastes!
Apart from liquid balsamic vinegars, there are also balsamic creams, which can also have a particular aroma. They can be used straight out of the bottle for salads and salad dressings but also for cooking. There are some balsamic creams with a fruity flavor but even more particular ones, like balsamic cream with mustard or barbeque that are especially good for cooking!
Choose your favorite one that will add so much flavor to your cooking and create unique dishes!!