VINEGAR: may be briefly described as a low percentage dilute natural acid— generally acetic acid. It is obtained by the conversion of the alcohol contained in a liquid—wine, cider, beer, etc.—into acid as the result of the activity of a class of acid-producing bacteria. The cloudy, stringy-looking matter in the bottom of acetifying casks is formed by the multi plication of these bacteria and is hence known as the "Mother of Vinegar." Wine Vinegar is made from either red or white wines. It is red when obtained from the former, and light yellow or golden if from the latter—which give the choicer products.
Malt or Beer Vinegar, from barley malt or beer, is of brownish hue and smells rather like sour beer. It is also known as "British Vinegar," because it is generally used in England for pickles.
Cider Vinegar is brownish-yellow, with an odor suggesting apples.
The comparative merits of these three types is a matter of individual taste. Quality is subject both to age and to the particular flavor of each lot.
White Vinegar, or "Spirit Vinegar," which is especially favored for pickling, is made from dilute whisky.
Under various titles, commercial vinegars are also obtained from beet sugar and sorghum molasses, sweet wastes of various other descriptions, sour ales, beers, etc , and numerous chemical dilutions.
The sale of straight vinegar is supplemented by a considerable demand for specially flavored types, chief among them being Tarragon Vinegar, Chili Vinegar, Shal lot (Eschallot) Vinegar and Garlic Vinegar.
Fruit Vinegars, as Raspberry Vinegar, Black Currant Vinegar, etc., are made by steeping fruit in vinegar. They constitute a separate class, being used chiefly to make summer beverages (see RASPBERRY VINEGAR).
There is a steadily increasing demand for bottled or "package vinegar" put up by well-known firms, attributable in part to the fact that it is so very easy to adulterate vinegar dispensed in bulk.
Wine Vinegar is generally made by allowing the wine to rest on lees for some time, followed by filtering and exposure in open casks.
Cider Vinegar was formerly obtained by allowing the barrels of cider to stand with open bungs in a warm cellar, but this is a long process and is now seldom employed commercially. Instead, the cider is allowed to percolate slowly through "generators," perforated casks filled with shavings or twigs saturated with old vinegar. By this pro cess, used also in the making of malt and spirit vinegar, the product is ready for use in two or three days.
The tiny vinegar worms or "eels" sometimes found in vinegar are not in any way detrimental, but the gelatinous membranous matter found at the bottom of the bottle of home-made vinegar is generally of differ ant character—it is a parasitic 2:rowth feed ing on the components of the liquid, and eventually robbing it of much of its strength.
If all conditions are just right—if the proper temperature is obtainable and can be kept at the proper point without substantial fluctuation, etc.—it is possible to make good vinegar at home from wine. beer, etc., but the chances are very much against a product that can be compared with that put tip by a first-class manufacturer.
Vinegar needs a good deal of care to keep it in the best condition. Exposure to the air, too strong light, or severe cold will cause it to deteriorate.