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The Many Types of Vinegar and its Uses

June 14, 2012 Le Cordon Bleu Sacramento 0 Comments

The Many Types of Vinegar and its Uses

The uses for vinegar are as numerous as the many varieties on the market. From pursuing a culinary education to cooking in your own home, vinegar is a staple that no kitchen should be without. Vinegar is made by adding bacteria to diluted wine, ale or fermented fruits and grains. The many different types of vinegars available at your local market are usually associated with a specific regional cuisine, each has its own distinct appeal and preferred uses. Here are just a few types that you can experiment with.

Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar is a salad lover’s favorite in America but it is truly an Italian specialty. In use since the middle ages, there are only two manufacturers of true balsamic vinegar. Made from a reduction of pressed Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes, the vinegar is aged in wood barrels for at least 12 years and can cost $100 a bottle.

Today there are also many great commercial versions available so you can enjoy this dark sweet delicacy no matter what your price range. In Italy, balsamic vinegar is often used in traditional desserts such as panna cotta or drizzled over fresh fruit. It can also be added to any kind of meat or seafood as a flavor enhancer and of course no culinary education would be complete without a classic balsamic vinaigrette.

Red and White Vinegar
A favorite among the French, red and white wine vinegars are a great addition to stews and sauces.  The natural properties of vinegar break down protein fibers helping to tenderize meats so it is a great addition to your favorite marinade. Red wine vinegar is also a great addition to steamed vegetables enhancing both their flavor and color. Try adding a sprig of herbs such as tarragon to a bottle of red wine vinegar. It gives salad dressing a wonderful complex flavor.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Nothing is more American than apple cider vinegar. A common ingredient in California culinary arts, cider vinegar is a sweet addition to salad dressings and vinaigrettes. This inexpensive vinegar’s tangy flavor is also a popular ingredient in chutneys, hearty stews and marinades.

Rice Vinegar
Any discussion of vinegar and its varieties would be incomplete without mentioning the wide variety of rice vinegars from Asia. Made for over three thousand years from fermented rice or rice wine these vinegars come in a wide variety of colors. Depending on the region they can range from clear to red to black. Though they all vary greatly, they do tend to be milder and sweeter than western vinegars. The one we encounter most often in California culinary arts is Japanese rice vinegar, the magic ingredient in sushi rice that gives it that wonderful sweet tangy flavor, it is also a great addition to stir-fry recipes and salad dressings.

This is just a small sampling of the many types of vinegar available on the market today. Don’t be afraid to experiment at home. From malt vinegar on your French fries to a bottle of 12-year-old balsamic vinegar kept only for special occasions there is a bottle of vinegar for every palette and budget.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Sacramento. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Sacramento offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in Sacramento, California. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Sacramento for more information. 

Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures.  
Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.

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