Mysteries of Life: What is vinegar?

There are times when I have no control over my mind. One of those times is as I’m waking up, when all the fences are down and my mind goes renegade.

A fine example occurred this morning. As I was waking up, my mind asked, “What is vinegar?” I considered the question for a few moments and realized I don’t know.

Is there such a thing as a vinegar plant or tree which produces sap that can be purified into vinegar? I didn’t know. I pulled out a vinegar bottle from my kitchen cabinet. As ingredients, it reads “Grain and water distilled to 5% acidity.”

Oh, OK then. Grain. Grain certainly explains rice vinegar, which was the next question I had. But how do they turn grains into vinegar?

Another reason I love Google. In response to “What is the process of making vinegar?”, I got this:

Vinegar is produced naturally by fermenting an alcoholic liquid. Therefore, two fermentations are required to produce vinegar from a fruit juice or mash: an alcoholic fermentation, which is performed anaerobically by yeast, and an acetic fermentation, performed aerobically by fungus.

It seems like a lot of work. So how is this work done?

A number of different ways.

And now I recall learning years ago if I let a bottle of wine sit around for a while (what “a while” was I don’t remember), it would turn into vinegar. But it’s a lot easier to buy it.

I’m feeling satisfied. I answered my brain’s AM question. It was a challenge, took all of five minutes.

Now I’m going to make a green salad with my own dressing using someone else’s vinegar.

P.S. Here’s a good example of why we’re all intellectuals. Or, in this case, one half-assed intellectual. If I were a full-fledged intellectual on this subject, I’d go buy wooden barrels and learn how to make bung-holes. I’m not going that far. After all, I’ve got Fairway, Citarella and Zabar’s in my immediate neighborhood.


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