My vinegar collection is getting silly

This is pretty MPSIMS, but it probably belongs here.

You only notice these things after a while. I bought a new bottle of sherry vinegar the other day and noticed how many bottles of vinegar I have in the cupboard. It’s getting out of control. I’ve been looking for sherry vinegar since my last bottle got down to the sludgy must, but whilst supermarkets these days have a staggering assortment of vinegars, sherry’s not amongst them. The only sherry vinegars I’ve seen recently have been the $80 varieties in those yuppie shops that reassure me that I’m not as out of touch with reality as most of their customers must be.

Back home with the sensible sherry vinegar, I counted:
[ul][li]red wine[/li][li]tarragon[/li][li]Thai rice vinegar. [/li][li]Japanese rice vinegar[/li][li]Another sort of Japanese rice vinegar that came with a sushi-making kit. IIRC, you are supposed to use this type for handling the sticky sushi rice so you can attach it to the fish without any grains getting undisciplined. :rolleyes: [/li][li]Balsamic vinegar. Mainly good for strawberries IMHO. Too sweet and unsubtle for just about anything else. Maybe I’m too much of a tightarse to buy the good stuff. Or maybe I’m just sick of its overuse. Come to think of it, it is nice with parmesan.[/li][li]White vinegar. Useful here and there, but mainly for cleaning the coffee machine.[/li]Malt vinegar. For chips (I understand you call these freedom fries) and cockle-type things. Those who hold this to be low class don’t know what they’re missing.[/ul]I looked at the bottles and felt nothing except a need to buy and find a use for cider vinegar. I may have a problem.

I’ve a bunch of vinegars, too. But I need them all, really!

White wine vinegar to season bruschetta topping and for delicate salads.
Balsamic for salads made of strong bitter greens, like arugula or radicchio.
Red wine vinegar for assertive romaine/garlic kinds of salads.
Rice vinegar to make sushi, Japanese cucumber salad and other Japanese delicacies.
Sherry vinegar for Spanish tapas recipes and all-purpose salad use.
Plain white vinegar to run through the dishwasher when it gets sludgy.

Yep, I’m obsessive in the kitchen. And that seems pretty steep for sherry vinegar - seems to me I paid around $10 for mine, and I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it. Maybe I didn’t buy top of the line stuff, but it tastes pretty darned good.

Here are some reasons to buy even more.

Oh gosh, off the top of my head I know I have:

  • plain white vinegar
  • basic red wine vinegar
  • fancy red wine vinegar (someone gave me as a gift and it’s goooood)
  • basic white wine vinegar
  • fancy white wine vinegar (another gift)
  • rice wine vinegar
  • herbes de provence vinegar
  • some sort of vaguely oriental ginger something vinegar
  • some other sort of reddish vinegar that I can’t remember the type
  • basic balsamic for reductions and such
  • fancy balsamic for putting on strawberries, ice cream, or just drinking straight up if you’re Mr. Athena
  • Cassis vinegar from Quebec

That’s what I know I have, off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s at least another 4-6 bottles hidden waaaaay in the back that I forgot I had.

[snarky] Huh, I thought sherry was vinegar.[/snarky]

Rice vinegar and soy sauce makes for a refreshing sauce for cold tofu. Top it off with bonita flakes or watercress.

Okay, I’m going to prove my ignorance as a cook now, but I have recently discovered the greatness of marinating (macerating?) sliced strawberries in balsamic vinegar, and I love it. However, the balsamic I usually buy is about $3 or $4 per bottle. I know there’s expensive, fancy stuff out there, but I just cannot afford it.

Now what, exactly, is a reduction? I hear chefs talk about these all the time, and I feel like an idiot for not knowing, and not having tried my own by now. What is its use for recipes, and how should I do one with my balsamic?

It’s just like it sounds - you reduce it. Pour a cup or so of balsamic into a saucepan and let it boil down until it’s half or a quarter what it was.

You end up with syrupy thick strong balsamic. Very nice to bring a big blast of balsamic goodness in a little package.

reduction – simmering it on low heat until it gets thicker and concentrated. I have a friend who makes a wicked balsamic salad dressing via reduction.

I hate vinegar. Well ok, I actually love vinegar, but I hate the vinegar escalation. Seems the more types of vinegar I buy, the more types of vinegar recipe writers come up with. You can’t just get by with the basics. Next recipe you read absolutely requires rice-fermentented-pinto-bean-argentinian-yak-sweat vinegar. My store doesn’t carry that!!! Arghh!!!

It’s not silly until you make sure your balsamic vinegar is truly “traditional” balsamic vinegar aged 10-25 years, and then start collecting different kinds like you were building up a wine cellar! :wink:

So the Progresso stuff I buy at Publix isn’t real balsamic vinegar, or just not “traditional”? Because I’m pretty damn sure it hasn’t been aged that long.

If I read that Wiki ariticle right, and it’s correct, then the name balsamic vinegar is only protected if the word ‘traditional’ is used. If it’s not, then it could just be gussied up white vinegar, kind of like something called ‘soy sauce’ is probably just hydrolized vegetable proteins in water with salt, whereas ‘naturally brewed’ soy sauce is actually REAL soy sauce.

Hey, I hosted a vinegar and oil tasting party once, with a wide variety of each. Lots of tiny fresh bread cubes to dip in each liquid.

Share and enjoy!

As I finished reading your list, I thought, 'What, no cider vinegar?" I use it for making coleslaw (half a cup of sugar melted in a cup of cider vinegar, stir in about a quarter cup of milk, pour over peppered chopped cabbage - the amounts are estimates, so adjust to your taste).

To purists (and Italians), no, it ain’t.

I have, in addition to wine, cider, malt and “spirit” vinegars (that last one is industrial-level stuff, only good for dyeing leather), I have **honey **vinegar, which I see hasn’t been mentioned.

Real aged Modena balsamic is one of those things I’ll spend good money on. There really is a noticeable difference.

I use a lot of vinegar in cooking. I love it.

Just yesterday I made cole slaw with fennel and used my cider vinegar.

Bar-b-q sauce uses cider vinegar.

Honey-mustard with a little white vinegar for a Carolina BBQ sauce.

I use balsamic for heartier viniagrettes.

I use white wine vinegar when I make a light, fruity viniagrette, and also for a flank stank marianade that I do.

Red wine vinegar when I make a piquant viniagrette (like with worcestershire and tobasco).

Rice wine vinegar when I make teriaki sauces, and also a ginger viniagrette.

I look in that cabinet and it looks like I’m a pawn of the vinegar lobby, but I really do use them all.

You’re a bunch of enablers.

The balsamic business does make you wonder about the extent to which the great fad for the stuff has undermined the product. There is a lot of sweet brown goop out there pretending to be balsamic vinegar. My stuff may be low end, but at least it is the low end of the real thing.

I didn’t realize I had a vinegar problem until you mentioned it - I have an excuse, though. I pickle.

Me cucumber, you pickle!