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  #1  
Old 04-24-2002, 12:07 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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What is white vinegar made from?

I've wondered about this for years. I can guess what things like apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar are made from. But what about ordinary white vinegar? Not one of the dozens of people I've asked seem to know. On the label, the list of ingredients says only "vinegar." Duh.
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  #2  
Old 04-24-2002, 12:10 PM
evilhanz evilhanz is offline
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It's a mixture of grain and alcohol, white wine and barley for example.
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Old 04-24-2002, 12:31 PM
chukhung chukhung is offline
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This page on food acidulants Acid Basics says that
Quote:
Fermenting alcohol with Acetobacter in the presence of oxygen produces acetic acid. The starting material consists of 190 proof ethyl alcohol for distilled white vinegar.
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Old 04-24-2002, 12:34 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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Vinegar itself is just acetic acid: CH3COOH. ALL vinegar is acetic acid, but the marketed stuff has other things, like evilhanz mentionned, to give it different tastes.
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Old 04-24-2002, 12:36 PM
Pergau Pergau is offline
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White vinegar is oftem industrially produced acetic acid. The two ingredients in a bottle of white vinegar are water and Acetic acid.

IIRC it's normally watered to a few percent, 9, I think .
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Old 04-24-2002, 12:40 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Thanks, guys. So basically, it's fermented ethyl alcohol. Where do they get that ethanol? Is it a by-product of some other process or do they make it specifically for vinegar production?
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Old 04-24-2002, 12:45 PM
chukhung chukhung is offline
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That Acid Basics page has a lot of interesting info:
Quote:
According to Henry Benjamin, product manager, Integrated Ingredients, Alameda, CA, it is typically manufactured from grain alcohol, although other sources such as alcohol from sugar beets, wood or synthetic sources can be used.

"Acetobacter are temperamental, they like clean alcohol," he says, "but they don't differentiate among different sources. That's an economic or labeling concern."

Specialty vinegars begin with specific raw materials that contribute characteristic flavors and colors: those of red and white wine vinegars derived from the source wine, cider vinegar with a fruity flavor. Corn sugar vinegar is bland tasting and amber colored. Rice vinegar is clear and although high in acid content, without a pronounced "bite." Malt vinegar comes from malted barley and other cereals. Balsamic vinegar, typically made from red wine and grape sugar, with aging provides the deep color and mellow flavor.

Vinegar strength commonly is measured in "grains." In the United States, this refers to the percent acid times 10. For example, 100-grain vinegar contains 10% acetic acid, 90% water. Distilled vinegar strength ranges from 50 to 300 grains. Specialty vinegars range from 40 to 100 grains. The color of distilled vinegar ranges from a straw color to water white.

"The vinegar food used for fermentation tends to leave a little color," notes Benjamin. "Although consumers prefer a clear product, typical food processors like pickling, ketchup or mayonnaise processors don't require a white color."
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Old 04-24-2002, 12:49 PM
Rayne Man Rayne Man is offline
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Here in the UK we can get both brown and white malt vinegar. I have looked on the label and all it says is " distilled from the finest natural ingrediants and matured in vats " I imagine that the basic ingrediant must be barley malt and the only difference between the two sorts is that a brown colour must be added to one sort. We can also buy here something called " non brewed condiment" which is commercially produced acetic acid - nasty stuff!
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Old 04-25-2002, 09:57 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Repeating my follow-up question: Where do they get that ethanol? Is it a by-product of some other process or do they make it specifically for vinegar production?
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  #10  
Old 04-26-2002, 10:37 AM
chukhung chukhung is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by acsenray
Where do they get that ethanol? Is it a by-product of some other process or do they make it specifically for vinegar production?
Well, I interpreted Mr. Benjamin's statement that, "[Acetobacter] don't differentiate among different sources. That's an economic or labeling concern" to mean that his company will buy the cheapest 190 proof ethyl alcohol available, regardless of source, as long as its "clean" enough to keep the acetobacter happy.
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Old 04-26-2002, 04:06 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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But I'm wondering where the alcohol used by vinegar producers _usually_ comes from.

For example, I know that the American leather industry is essentially a by-product of the beef cattle industry. If we weren't raising cattle for beef, most likely we wouldn't have as much leather around (in other words, few people are going to put that much effort into raising cattle just for the leather).

Are there plants geared towards producing ethyl alcohol merely as a commodity willing to sell it to whomever comes along? (If so, who are their usual customers?)

Or are those plants mostly producing alcohol for some other specific use and just selling the excess to people like vinegar producers? Or is the vinegar plant itself the main customer?

Or are they doing something else that leaves them with alcohol as a by-product that they then sell to vinegar producers?
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Old 04-26-2002, 04:15 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Umm ... yeah. I know that should be whoever. Howcum we aren't allowed to edit our posts?

I suppose, if I haven't clarified enough, what I'm wondering is whether the vinegar producers get alcohol in a commodity-type market in which there are a large numbers of producers and a large number of potential buyers. If ethyl alcohol has a wide range of uses, there might just be an ethyl alcohol market with a variety of potential buyers.

Or, on the other hand, is there a specific production flow of ethyl alcohol geared at supplying vinegar producers with alcohol.

Or, on the third hand, are the producers of alcohol really doing something else and they just end up with a bunch of alcohol that they then sell to vinegar producers?
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  #13  
Old 04-26-2002, 06:40 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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They buy it from Archer-Daniels-Midland or some such mega-agribusiness outfit. Much ethyl alcohol is produced for industrial purposes by these businesses -- in turn from (in the USA) huge amounts of maize corn that is likewise grown as raw material to get to the starches for industrial use, and not for human or animal food.

You can also synthetically make Acetic Acid from petroleum distillates -- once about 12 years back I did a double-take when I saw on a label of a major brand Vinegar the phrase "not made from petroleum".
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  #14  
Old 04-26-2002, 06:44 PM
3waygeek 3waygeek is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pergau
IIRC it's normally watered to a few percent, 9, I think .
The bottle in my fridge says 5 percent.
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