Vinegar is a kitchen staple. Created through a fermentation process, vinegar has been used since ancient Egyptian times. It's perfect for making marinades and dressings, cleaning your counters and adding to sauces. However, one type of vinegar is not acceptable for all situations. If you're active in the kitchen, you'll want to invest in a few different types. There are dozens of vinegar options, but here are some of the most useful, basic vinegars:
1. Red wine vinegar: Chances are, you use red wine vinegar quite a bit. Not only is it one of the most versatile, but it's also pleasing to the taste. It's sharp, but not overpowering, making it a great addition to marinades, vinaigrettes and salad dressings. Try adding it to your next marinara or barbecue sauce for a little kick!
2. White wine vinegar: White wine vinegar is similar to red wine vinegar. However, just like red and white wine, it's a little bit milder. Actually, many ways that you distinguish red and white wine food pairings go for the vinegars as well. For example, red wine vinegar pairs well with marinades and sauces for hearty meals with red meat, while white wine works best in lighter dishes that use poultry or seafood. Champagne vinegar is an option as well, in case white wine is still too strong for your taste. It's best used in vinaigrettes and dressings, though, as the flavor is usually too mild to cook with.
3. Cider vinegar: Cider vinegar is a good substitute for red wine vinegar in case you run out or just don't care for the taste. It's a little mellower than the wine vinegars and is made from pressed apples. Cider vinegar is often praised for it's medicinal properties as well. According to Greatist, it's been used to treat bad breath, dandruff, burns and even acne.
4. Balsamic vinegar: Balsamic vinegar is a little different compared rest of your vinegars. It's aged and made from unfermented grape juice instead of alcohol. Typically, the longer a balsamic vinegar ages, the sweeter it is. While the flavor of balsamic vinegar is incredibly versatile – it's used in everything from salad dressings to desserts – it's truly one of a kind. No other type of vinegar is an acceptable substitute in a recipe that calls for balsamic.
5. Malt vinegar: Malt vinegar is made from barley and has a mellow taste. The process of creating malt vinegar is brewing beer, then allowing the ale to ferment and age. It's more of a condiment than any other form of vinegar and is usually eaten on its own rather than in sauces or recipes. For example, malt vinegar is used to top fried foods like fish and chips.
6. Distilled white vinegar: Distilled white vinegar isn't added to food to enhance a meal's flavor. It's typically used to for pickling, as it has a very strong smell and flavor. If a recipe calls for buttermilk and you're out, you can add a small amount of white vinegar to regular milk as a substitute. It's also a popular cleaning product. Use vinegar to scrub stains out of your dinnerware, shine up your sink and countertops, and even use it to remove antiperspirant stains from your clothes.