Every kitchen has a few different bottles of vinegar stowed away behind the half-used bags of flour and sugar. Yet, while vinegar is generally seen as an ingredient for special recipes it’s actually an incredibly diverse and important ingredient. Not only does vinegar preserve and flavor food, it’s acetic acid and water mixture makes it a problem solver for routine cooking problems, as well as a great domestic household item.
Types of Vinegar
Rhubarb and Ginger Shrub Drinking Vinegar/One Green Planet
There are as many kinds of vinegar as there are uses for them. From the sweet, barrel-aged flavors of sherry vinegar to the tart and dry bite of white vinegar, there is a make, taste, and color for every recipe!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may be the most popular and widely used of the varieties due to its lovely flavoring and its many health benefits. The sweet and mildly acidic content lends for a great dessert recipe vinegar. There have also been recent studies showing that apple cider vinegar may help with weight loss, acne, and dandruff, as well as reduce heartburn.
This is the only vinegar that is not created using alcohol. Primarily made in Italy, balsamic vinegar is a mixture of oak barrel aged pressed grapes. Balsamic is one of the most well-known and distinct of the vinegar varieties due to its thick, oily substance and sweet, earthy, and tangy flavor. This is also one of the only kinds of vinegar that taste great on its own especially when used as a dip or drizzled across a dessert.
Red Wine Vinegar Tofu With Quinoa/One Green Planet
Also referred to as red rice vinegar, red vinegar is created in China using a red mold. Red vinegar has an incredibly distinct taste and color, which narrows its uses. This type of vinegar is generally used in Asian-inspired dishes such as egg noodles and dumplings.
Red Wine Vinegar
While apple cider vinegar is favored for its health properties, red wine vinegar is favored for its flavor. A result of fermented red wine, this vinegar is great for pretty much anything including marinades, glazes, and dressings.
Broccoli Cashew Fried Rice/One Green Planet
Rice vinegar is widely used in Asian-inspired dishes. This due to the fact that rice vinegar is created from fermented rice wine found in China and Japan. Many Asian recipes will ask for rice vinegar, but it is a great flavoring for any light, wok or pan cooked meal. It is on the sweeter side and has a lower acidic content. Rice vinegar is best for dipping sauces and glazes.
While red wine and white wine vinegars are made from fermented wines, sherry vinegar is created from fortified Spanish wine that has been aged a certain number of years in oak barrels. Due to its strong flavor, sherry vinegar is best used as a reduction in pan sauces or mixed with heavy oils in vinaigrettes.
This is the most common form of grocery store bought vinegar. It’s great for pickling, brining, and is regularly used in salad dressings. White vinegar is created from distilled and fermented alcohol.
White Wine Vinegar
Many people mix up white vinegar and white wine vinegar, which can be a big mistake. While white vinegar is incredibly sour and pungent, white wine vinegar is much sweeter. This vinegar is great for adding flavor without affecting the coloring of your food.
A few additional, less popular varieties of vinegar include champagne vinegar — sweet and light, used mainly in condiments — malt vinegar — think fish and chips — and black vinegar also referred to as Chinese black vinegar — made from rice or sorghum, has a smoky flavor, and is a great meat marinade.
10 Creative Ways to Use Vinegar in the Kitchen
Now that you know all your options, it’s time to put it to practical use in the kitchen! From flavoring to cleaning, make sure to always keep a few bottles of vinegar in the kitchen pantry.
Marinated Chickpea and Artichoke Salad/One Green Planet
Vinegar-based salad dressings wildly popular, crossing countries and cultures, and serves the easiest most-varied recipes available. While many traditional recipes call for a basic balsamic vinaigrette, dressings can be made from almost any type of vinegar including apple cider vinegar — such as this Mustard Vinaigrette or Sweet Lemon Curry Dressing — or even red wine vinegar — such as this Mediterranean dressing.
Seitan and Mushroom Bourguignon/One Green Planet
Sauce is one of the easiest concoctions in the kitchen, as long as you’ve got the right ingredients at hand. When the juices from cooking ingredients are reduced in a pan, this is referred to as pan sauce. Vinegar is an integral part of making many tasty pan sauces! Once your meal is finished cooking, simply empty the pan of the food and leave the liquid. Add a touch of vinegar, any vinegar will do, and allow the mixture to reduce to your favorite consistency. Try a few of these recipes that include pan sauces: Seitan and Mushroom Bourguignon, Balsamic Roasted Garlic Mushrooms, or this Pasta Carbonara.
Crispy Flavored Pickles/One Green Planet
The strength of flavor from a pickled vegetable is rooted within the type of fermentation method the pickler chooses. While you can pickle food in brine, the favored option, due to better flavoring and less sodium content, is immersion in vinegar. Pickling is used not only for taste, but it can preserve food for months longer than normal. Some of the most popular pickled veggies include cabbage, such as this Easy Pickled Red Cabbage, pickles, such as these Crispy Flavorful Pickles, hot peppers, such as these Homemade Pickled Jalapenos, and carrots, such as these Japanese Carrot Pickles.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Sherry-Maple Vinaigrette/One Green Planet
Most glazes are generally made from mixtures of sugars and fats. Yet, for non-dessert recipes, sherry vinegar works just as well. Sherry vinegar is created from sherry, a Spanish fortified wine, that has been aged in American oak for a certain number of years. While this vinegar can be a great addition it also packs a unique flavor punch. Therefore, try using sherry vinegar in heavy or cooked glazes such as this Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Sherry-Maple Vinaigrette or this Apple Fritter With Apple Cider Reduction.
Apple Cider Muffins/One Green Planet
A dash of apple cider vinegar is the key to flaky, beautiful pie dough, just one instance of the resourcefulness of vinegar for desserts! While you can experiment with sweeter vinegar such as red wine and sherry, apple cider vinegar is one of the best tools for vegan dessert recipes, a few of which include Healthy Banana Bread, Tri-Layer Chocolate Cheesecake, Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes, or this these vegan Apple Cider Muffins.
Thinning Thick Sauces
Stir-Fried Tempeh with Orange Sauce/One Green Planet
A thick, creamy sauce is a delicate pleasure to look forward to, yet when a sauce becomes overly thickened it’ll spoil a good dish. While adding water or stock will eventually thin a sauce, it takes larger quantities than simply adding a tablespoon or so of vinegar. Keep in mind, this is most effective when thinning sauces with flour or cornstarch such as this orange sauce used for stir-fried tempeh. As is similar to the starch in pasta, vinegar helps to break down the starch in your sauce.
Freshening Wilted Veggies
Carrot and Radish Salad/One Green Planet
Opening your refrigerator to discover the vegetables you planned to cook for dinner have become wilted and lackluster, becomes a common frustration. Vinegar can help solve this problem! Simply create a diluted concoction of two cups of water to one tablespoon of vinegar and soak your veggies until they brighten up again. This is especially helpful with tender vegetables such as spinach, leafy lettuces, and herbs.
Using for Substitutions
Rosemary ‘Buttermilk’ Biscuits/One Green Planet
Vinegar is also a great substitute for various kitchen staples. Are you out of buttermilk? Simply add one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of whole milk for these vegan Rosemary ‘Buttermilk’ Biscuits. Need the tang of a lemon or lime? Use half the amount of vinegar required —half a teaspoon of vinegar for one teaspoon of lemon or lime juice — such as in these Danish Pancake Balls. Looking for a healthier option for salt? Sprinkle vinegar atop your food, just as you would salt. Last but not least, cooking wine! Just as with buttermilk, you’ll need to dilute the vinegar (one part vinegar to 3 parts wine).
Creamy Almond Butter Tomato Pasta/One Green Planet
We’ve all run into the same issue with pasta; a sticky, pasty spaghetti mess. This is due to the calcium and magnesium in tap water, which releases larger quantities of starch from the noodles while cooking. In order to avoid this, simply add a tablespoon of your favorite vinegar to the water. Vinegar “acidifies the water and reduces stickiness,” yet keep in mind that vinegar may alter the taste. Therefore, this trick works particularly well with pasta recipes requiring tart or heavy sauces such as Lemon ‘Parmesan’ Pasta, Creamy Almond Butter Tomato Pasta, Pasta With Creamy Red Pepper Cashew Sauce, or this High-Protein Creamy Tofu and Avocado Pasta.
Cleaning Your Kitchen
At the end of the day, after you’ve prepared, cooked, and enjoyed a delicious meal, you’ve still got to clean your kitchen. While vinegar is an excellent cooking resource, it also has incredible cleaning powers. As mentioned, vinegar has the ability to break down other products. Therefore, when degreasing an oven surface, scrubbing stained plates, or wiping clean cooking surfaces, vinegar easily breaks down any leftover material. Simply create a diluted concoction with one-to-one of vinegar and water, varying depending on the size of the mess. You can also add scented essential oils to give it a less tangy and pungent smell.
For more vinegar-based recipes and vinegar uses in the household, try downloading the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
Lead Image Source: Shutterstock