Vinegar as old as civilization itself …traces of it have been found in Egyptian urns from around 3000 B.C., and Babylonian scrolls recording the use of vinegar date even earlier, to around 5000 B.C. Known as “poor man’s wine” (posca) in ancient times, vinegar was often carried by Roman legionnaires; the Bible notes that Roman soldiers offered vinegar to Christ at the Crucifixion.
Used in many cultures as a condiment and preservative, vinegar can be made from a variety of liquids, including malted barley, rice, and cider; however, as its name suggests, it was probably first made from wine. The word vinegar derives from the Old French vinaigre, meaning “sour wine.”
We are now spoilt for choice as a wide variety of vinegar are available to us with their own colours and flavours. Vinegar is commonly used in food preparation, particularly in pickling processes, vinaigrettes, and other salad dressings. It is an ingredient in condiments, such as mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise, and an essential component of chutneys, marinades, and other sauces…it is even used in cake recipes…
As a child, I only recall ever having malt vinegar with our fish and chips on our winkles and cockles and used for my mum’s homemade pickles... it was only as we started to travel and taste other cuisines that it opened up the world of vinegar and now I don’t just have malt vinegar but white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, white or red wine vinegar even fruit vinegar…
On the subject of vinegar, it is worth buying a good quality vinegar as it has a longer shelf life. Here in Thailand, there are many kinds of vinegar and most of the labels are in Thai, however, the one word which stood in my search for the kinds of vinegar I use was artificial…That sent me scuttling home for a chat with Mr Google…I mean those of you who know me expect no less…
What did I discover?…
“Artificial vinegar” is acetic acid that is made by a chemical process.
“Natural vinegar” is acetic acid that is made in a biological process using the Acetobacter aceti bacteria. If the “natural vinegar” is distilled, it is very difficult to tell the difference between it and the “artificial vinegar.”
No great shakes then it seems but suspicious Annie here believes…Not much…lol… So I will not be buying it…You get what you pay for…
When I was a child, and much has changed in the culinary world since then, all my mother used and probably still does was Sarsons Malt Vinegar, but I will say that anything else on a portion of good English Fish and chips is sacrilege of the highest order.
Home Cooked Fish and Chips.
I do miss Fish & Chips and it’s not something we ate often when in the UK but as we haven’t had it for at least 6 years;……..well I lie… we have had it but you can’t get a lovely piece of Cod or Skate here so it’s not the same.
So I give you Fish & Chips….UK style with peas.
Ingredients for 4 servings.
800gm potatoes scrubbed and cut into chips or peeled and cut into chips.
Olive oil to cook and to coat. I more often than not also add some fresh rosemary sprigs.
For the Fish:
• 650 gm approx of your favourite fish. Cut into 4.
• 50gm flour plus 1 tsp
• 50gm cornflour
• 1 egg white
• 125ml ice-cold sparkling water
• 600ml oil for frying
• Lemon wedges for garnish.
Cut your chips and parboil. Drain, shake lightly and I put a tea towel over the pan to absorb the steam.
Heat your oven to 220 fan/ 200, gas mark7
Put baking tin with Olive oil in the oven and heat for 8-10 mins.
Meanwhile, put the chips into a bowl and coat with some more olive oil using your hands to turn and coat the potatoes. At this point add Rosemary or Sage if using.
When the oil is hot add the chips in a single layer. Bake 10 mins and turn, bake 5 mins and turn, repeat this process until the chips are nice and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper.
Fish…Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel. Put 1 tsp flour on a plate and coat the fish with the flour.
Heat your oil to 200c.
Meanwhile, mix the flour, cornflour, salt and pepper. whisk the egg white. Pour the sparkling water into the flours whisking all the time. Lastly, add the egg white still whisking but being careful not to whisk out all the bubbles…Bubbles make a nice light, crispy batter. A balloon whisk is good to use to keep the bubbles. You want a bubbly batter, not a smooth batter.
Dip your floured fillets into the batter. Dip and drain and with a slotted spoon and carefully put into the hot oil. Fry 2 fillets at a time making sure you get your oil back up to the required heat or you will have a soggy batter.
The heat must stay a constant 200c.
Fry for 5-6 minutes, turn fish and cook until the batter is crisp and golden, drain and repeat with your other 2 fillets.
- Serve on plates with the chips and peas.
- Garnish with lemon wedges.
- Serve with mayo or my favourite tartar (caper) sauce and of course malt vinegar for your chips.
Now you can cook with many different kinds of vinegar and I think everyone has their favourites…What is yours???
White vinegar I use for pickling generally mixed with apple cider vinegar but for actual cooking white vinegar doesn’t impart flavour a nice wine vinegar or apple vinegar gives you the acid that lifts a dish plus depending on what was used in the making of the vinegar some extra flavours as well.
Choose cooking vinegar with lots of colours, lots of flavours and also ideally with no sulphates or added colours…keep it natural. The best way is to know your producer, know how they make the vinegar and where they source the alcohol from…
What food tastes nicer with vinegar???
• Salad dressings
• Tangy vinegar coleslaw
• Sea Salt and kale chips
• Apple cider vinegar Beef Jerky
• Strawberries and asparagus with balsamic vinegar
• Green beans with walnuts and balsamic
Green beans with walnuts are a family favourite here and balsamic vinegar just lifts it to a new level.
I just cook some walnuts with a little oil in the oven for about 5 mins while my green beans are cooking.
I then lightly brown a few cloves of chopped garlic and once the beans are drained I just add the garlic and walnuts, season with a little sea salt and drizzle with some balsamic vinegar.
Lovely and quick to do and you can make one portion or 6 portions it just lifts those beans to a new level.
More Vinegar.. and Strawberries
I tend to use rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, and balsamic I know you can get red and white wine vinegar and also champagne vinegar which I would love to try maybe one day…
In the meantime … Shrubs…Have you heard of them… They are fruit or vegetable vinegar… I hadn’t until about 2 years ago and one of my friends makes quite a lot of these and they are very nice…
This is her recipe which she gifted to me and I must say I was very pleased to receive with a sample…Hic
Strawberries are at the height of their season here and are very nice…I love the small ones as they have a much nicer taste than the larger strawberries.
• The zest from 2 organic lemons
• 1 cup of sugar
• 2 cups of strawberries hulled and quarter if big I use very small ones.
• 30 black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
• 1 cup of naturally brewed apple cider vinegar…I use Cornwall’s brewed in Australia
Let’s Cook! ( Brew)
Remove the peel from the lemons, making sure you get none of the white pith…I have a lovely little zester which just takes the peel in lovely strips. Place the peel in a medium bowl and cover with the sugar.
Press the peel firmly into the sugar for about five minutes, using a pestle, muddling stick or large wooden spoon.
Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and set aside for at least one hour until the sugar looks damp and slightly yellow from the lemon oil.
Then remove the peel from the sugar into a smaller bowl removing as much of the sugar as you can keep to one side.
Add the strawberries and the black pepper to the sugar and stir to combine.
Cover and put in the fridge, leave for about 2 hours the mixture should then be quite juicy so remove from the fridge and muddle the strawberries to extract more of their juice.
Pour the vinegar into the bowl containing the reserved lemon peel gently stir to remove the remainder of the sugar and then remove the zest and discard. Pour the vinegar over the strawberries and stir to combine.
Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for 2 days.
After 2 days strain the mixture through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth or muslin, squeeze the fruit gently through the cloth to extract all the juice and then discard the fruit mix.
Transfer your liquid into a sterilised bottle with a close-fitting lid and store in the fridge for 1 week.
Before serving shake the bottle and pour 2 tbsp or more to taste into a glass and top up with ice and sparkling mineral water and just because you can… a little dash or two of vodka or gin.
I will also mention that the shrub will keep in the fridge for about 6 months… Mine don’t!
Now apparently vinegar is also used in baking cakes and bikkies…who would have thunk…Not me but I am learning…sigh. The two most frequently used in baking are white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. White vinegar has a sharp, even harsh, flavour if tasted alone, but it is a very simple flavour and does not really stand out when used in a complex batter. Cider vinegar, made from apples, has a faintly fruity flavour and is quite sweet compared to other types of vinegar. It’s very mild and works even better in batters because there is virtually no chance of any vinegar flavour tainting the finished product.
Let’s Bake…my first cake using no eggs and vinegar…
- 1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened, nonalkalized cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp white or cider vinegar
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup of water
N.B...I am following this recipe to the T because I have had a few disasters lately where I haven’t and they haven’t turned out as hoped…my fault and probably because I have been cooking for a while and get used to certain ways ..This recipe to me sounds wacky and crazy but apparently it works…It is also made in the tin which it is cooked…I will let you know in my next post on Friday…
Position the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt directly into the baking pan, then add the sugar. With your finger, poke 2 small holes and 1 large one in the dry ingredients. Into one of the small holes pour the vanilla, into the other one the vinegar, and into the larger one the oil.
Pour the water over all the ingredients and stir the ingredients together with a table fork…reaching into the corners, until you can’t see any more flour and the batter looks fairly well mixed.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the centre comes out dry. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack, then cut and serve it from the pan.
Delicious or a disaster we will see…wish me luck…
More about vinegar in the coming month and if you use vinegar instead of eggs please share your recipes and thoughts xxx
About Carol Taylor:
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all are having a good week so far… stay safe and wash those hands xx