A preservative, that can jazz most mundane dishes on earth, a cleaning agent and solvent, and a deodorizer; vinegar is a must-have in any kitchen cupboard.
The term ‘vinegar’ is from the French word ‘vin aigre’, which means sour wine. Many kinds of vinegars are, in fact, products of wines gone bad.
Although intensely acidic and a preservative in itself, vinegar can actually lose its taste and flavor if kept carelessly or out in the open.
Vinegars are often further flavored with additional ingredients such as herbs, or aged in wooden barrels, like balsamic vinegar. Since it is obtained from alcohol, many of the essential elements that give vinegar its flavor are prone to evaporation.
Most vinegars will lose their tastes if kept sitting out for more than a year. To prevent this from happening, store the bottle of vinegar in the refrigerator or a dark cupboard. Although vinegar does not really need refrigeration, keeping it in the refrigerator with prevent it from oxidizing further. Fruit and herb infused vinegars, especially, maintain their optimum flavors if refrigerated.
Some vinegars, if stored improperly or too long, will develop a cloudy look. This cloudy substance is a natural residue called ‘mother of vinegar’ that can be used to make additional vinegar. This residue can be filtered out with a paper coffee filter in order to preserve the vinegar.
Here are some points to be kept in mind while using vinegar in food:
• Always shut the bottle cap of vinegar tightly. It is prone to evaporation.
• Do not consume musty or rank smelling vinegars. If the smell does not seem right, discard immediately.
• Once opened, preferably store the bottle of vinegar in a cool place like a refrigerator, and keep it away from strong aromas and odors.
• Balsamic vinegar can often develop a cloudy look if kept for a long time. This is not a cause for concern, since it is a harmless, natural process.