Vinegar appears in various dishes around the world, adding delicious tartness to soup, stews, stir-fries, and many others.
Since its first use in 3000 BC, various cultures have developed many types of vinegar.
Make sure you learn their flavor profiles before buying them for cooking.
A. Vinegar and Health Benefits
Is vinegar healthy?
Since health enthusiasts started touting the benefits of vinegar, the question has kept popping.
Some people even consider it a “magical solution” for various conditions.
Unfortunately, the benefits of vinegar are not as fantastic as many people believe.
However, the antibacterial quality in vinegar’s acetic acid can bring some health benefits.
Vinegar, especially the apple cider type, is great as a home remedy to cure acne. It helps in killing the bacteria that make your acne get worse.
You can also use vinegar as a natural solution for food preservation.
Some studies showed the effect of apple cider vinegar in controlling the growth of cancerous cells.
While these experiments used lab mice, adding vinegar in your everyday cooking offers good health potentials.
B. Popular Types of Vinegar
What is vinegar from?
It depends on what kind of vinegar we are talking about. Here are 15 popular types of vinegar and their ingredients.
1. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic is a strong vinegar made of crushed grape. It originates from Italy and is aged for as long as 12 years before being sold.
Balsamic vinegar is great to flavor proteins like eggs, fish, or beef. In traditional Italian serving, balsamic vinegar is dropped onto cheese like mortadella or Parmigiano Reggiano.
2. White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar is the result of the oxidization process in white wine. The result is an acidic, punchy-tasting vinegar.
People have described white wine vinegar as the milder version of balsamic vinegar.
3. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is made of fermented rice, popular in Asian countries. The flavor is mild and a little sweet, ideal to flavor dishes such as sushi, salad, soup, and pickles.
Rice vinegar is an important part of cuisines in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
4. Coconut Vinegar
Another typical Asian condiment, coconut vinegar is made of coconut palm sap.
This vinegar has a rich and sharp flavor, perfect to cook dishes with strong flavors. Coconut vinegar is a popular condiment in Indian and Thai cuisine.
5. Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is made of red wine, which is left to ferment and age until it reaches the right flavor.
Red wine vinegar usually undergoes two years of the aging process. The vinegar has a rich flavor, which you can use to make sauces, salad dressings, pickles, and braised meat.
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6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is probably one of the most famous vinegar types nowadays. The vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice until it turns dark and sour.
Apple cider vinegar has a nice combination of sour and sweet. You can use it to cook anything that has soy sauce, garlic, onion, or wine as the main ingredients.
7. Malt Vinegar
Malt vinegar is famous in the UK because it is a common condiment for fish and chips.
Malt vinegar is made of fermented barley, and it carries the traces of ale flavor. The resulting flavor is rich, toasty, and slightly nutty. You can use it as a simple salad dressing.
8. Sherry Vinegar
Sherry vinegar originates from Spanish, where it is produced as a gourmet vinegar.
Sherry vinegar must be aged for at least six months, but the best product can go through 10 years of the aging process. Sherry vinegar has a complex and slightly sweet flavor.
9. Distilled White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is the more purified version of typical white vinegar you have at home.
It can come from natural fermentation or manufacturing, mixing water with acetic acid. Distilled vinegar has a lower acidity level than regular white vinegar.
10. Cane Vinegar
Cane vinegar is made of sugarcane syrup, simmered and fermented until it reaches the right flavor.
Unlike what the name suggests, cane vinegar is not sweet. It has a mild taste with a little freshness. Depending on the making process, cane vinegar can have golden brown or dark yellow color.
11. Champagne Vinegar
Despite the name, “champagne vinegar” is not made of champagne. The main ingredients are white wine made of the same grapes with champagne.
Champagne vinegar has a fresh, mild, and slightly sweet tone. You can eat it with salad or soup.
12. Apricot Vinegar
Apricot vinegar is made of ripe apricots, making it retain the subtle sweetness from the fruits.
The combination of sweet and tart makes this apricot a perfect companion for salads. It is also great to make sauces or braise meat.
Undiluted apricot vinegar may show signs of residue, which is normal.
13. Beer Vinegar
Beer vinegar is a different vinegar type from the malt one. Malt vinegar is made of fermented barley that turns into ale-like liquid. Beer vinegar is made of actual beer.
Both have a similar flavor, with slightly toasty and nutty elements. You can make grilled meat, bear-battered fish, or salad dressing with this vinegar.
14. Black Vinegar
Black vinegar is a famous condiment from southern China. It is made of the combination of rice, millet, sorghum, and other grains.
The flavor is strong and complex, with a little smoky hint (a bit like beer vinegar). Western cooks are starting to choose black vinegar as a cheaper alternative to balsamic.
15. Raisin Vinegar
Raisin vinegar is a type of sweet fruit vinegar. The high sugar content makes this vinegar a more suitable option for fresh, light dishes.
You can use it to make salad dressings, soup, or pickles. It is also great to make Asian dishes, like sweet and sour fish or pork.
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16. Herb Vinegar
Herb vinegar is a type of homemade vinegar. You can make it with an existing vinegar as the base, such as white wine or red wine vinegar (avoid distilled vinegar, since it is too sharp).
The herbs can be anything, such as garlic chives, rosemary, basil or mixed dried herbs.
What is vinegar made from? The answer is: depending on what type of vinegar you look for.
These 16 types of vinegar offer unique flavors and sensations in the dishes, thanks to the origin ingredients.