What is vinegar
Vinegar has been used medicinally for thousands of years, most modern research focuses on its health benefits especially the acetic acid component of the vinegar.
Some of the possible health benefits of vinegar include: (I am not a doctor dont take medical advice from me)
Blood sugar control: Some human studies have found that ingesting vinegar may reduce both blood sugar and insulin levels after a meal.
Weight management: Some studies indicate that consuming vinegar may increase fullness by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties, possibly leading to reduced calorie intake and subsequent weight loss
Reduced cholesterol: Animal studies have shown reduced cholesterol in mice given vinegar. Ultimately, more research is needed to determine a cause-and-effect relationship between vinegar and cholesterol
Antimicrobial: Because of its antimicrobial properties, vinegar may be useful for treating physical ailments including nail fungus, warts and ear infections. It’s also an effective topical treatment for skin infections and burns
But its also a great ingredient in cooking it adds acidity to piquant sauces and dressing and is great as a pickling liquor, but it's not all about the acidity, Vinegar is made up from three different elements:
- 4-6% acidic acid
- flavouring from what you used to make the vinegar itself in this case cocoa.
Vinegar is a unique fermentation process because it's actually a two-stage process, using two different fermentation processes to make the final product.
Part one is alcohol fermentation.
first you need alcohol and to get alcohol well you need some type of product that has naturally occurring sugars in it. and wild yeast that will feed off of those sugars, as the yeast feed off those sugars the bi-product from that process is alcohol so that is step one of the vinegar process is making alcohol.
Part two of the fermentation process
The acidic fermentation is as the name suggests converting the alcohol into the acidic acids that make vinegar.
as an example take a glass of red wine once you pour that glass of red wine into a glass you've taken your wine out of the safety of its bottle where it was aging.and now you've exposed it to the environment and bacteria but specifically a certain bacteria called acetobacter which will enjoy feeding off that alcohol but it needs oxygen without oxygen the acetobacter can't survive and you won't get vinegar so when you have your wine exposed to all that oxygen that's when the acetobacter can start to thrive and take over and convert the alcohol into acetic acid so if you leave that wine out long enough exposed to oxygen well time and acetobacter is going to take over and eventually turn that wine into red wine vinegar now it's very important to note that the acetobacter will only thrive in a specific range of alcohol around 6 to 12% percent abv.
There are many different products you can make vinegar from, the options are endless but today I’m going to be focusing my efforts solely on fruit because fruit is available to everyone there's naturally occurring sugars in fruit so you have everything there you don't need to add anything it's just one ingredient whatever fruit you want.
It’s important to use fruit that’s fresh and ripe so it’s full of sugar.
Sterilise the jars like you would for any fermentation process.
Wash the fruit and then prepare it for the jars cut the fruit up into a dice if the fruit is smaller like blueberries place them in the jar and muddle them a little bit to break it down and expose the sugars the only fruit that I use that isn't fresh is raisins fill up about a quarter of the way up the jar once everything is in the jars top off with water and cover with a coffee filter to let the oxygen in, but you can also just use a cheese cloth over top of your jars too, stirring it every day
Making vinegar takes around 30 to 60 days so after a few days you should start to see some bubbles in the jars, which is a good indicator that the alcohol fermentation process is taking place because as the yeast eats the sugar one of the by-products is carbon dioxide
after around 20 days it starts tasting like vinegar, after 30 days you should have an incredible vinegar one of the great things about vinegars is once you jar them once they're turned into vinegar well they age just like wine and get better.
How to age vinegar
For those who have made their own vinegar, or have bought some they want to age and refine, aging vinegar is the easy part. All vinegar can age almost indefinitely if stored right.
Chinese vinegars are traditionally aged for 3-6 years, traditional Balsamic is aged from 12-25 years and sherry vinegar can be aged for similar long periods before bottling.
During aging a lot of complex chemistry goes on. One of the most important reactions is the slow reaction of acetic acid (as well as other acids) and alcohol to make esters which impart flavour of vinegar.
To age well, remember a couple of key rules:
Age the vinegar in a sealed container that the vinegar can fill as completely as possible you want minimal airspace. best if its opac
Airtight containers or wooden barrels are a must, though barrels need to be filled completely to the top with no surface area for an additional mother to grow and carry on more fermentation.
Use flavour enhancers sparingly.
For example, if you want to add herbs or spices to age in the vinegar, you don’t need a huge amount. A couple of sprigs of thyme or a tablespoon of dried herbs/spices can go a long way in one gallon of vinegar if you allow it to age for months.