Vinegar is a fermented substance created when acetic acid bacteria transforms ethanol into acetic acid. A powerful flavor enhancer, vinegar complements the natural tastes of ingredients and creates endless savory variations. It is so versatile that acclaimed fine-dining chefs are often tempted to create their very own vinegars. All it requires is water, some air, acetic acid bacteria, and any ingredients of the maker’s choice. Traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy and rice vinegar from Asia are two iconic varieties of the seasoning liquid. Now, with the rapid growth of the homemade vinegar market, we can more easily discover unique vinegar-based products that reveal the creator’s unique tastes with additions like maple syrup, rose petals, or fruits such as tangerines and plums. Vinegar has secured a firm place in the world of gastronomy, and continues to brighten tables across the world with splashes of acidic flavors.
Vinegar is one of the most omnipresent food ingredients, but it’s all too frequently undervalued as a product. Though it appears in myriad recipes, the precise chemical reaction or specific role it plays in a dish remains rather mysterious to many. While it’s true that vinegar is not a palatable show stopper on its own, an endless line of fascinating concoctions can be created with just a dash of it added to different foods. A chef once said that vinegar creates complex and surprisingly pleasant flavors. Through a close examination of this unsung ingredient and exploration into its critical role reveals that vinegar not only expands the food world, but also the creative world.