Vinegar is defined as a sour liquid obtained by fermentation of dilute alcoholic liquids and used as a condiment or preservative. Vinegar is made by two processes, which are distinct. They both involve the action of harmless microorganisms that turn sugars into acetic acid. The first is called alcoholic fermentation and occurs when yeast turns sugar to alcohol under certain controlled conditions. The second process involves the group of bacteria called Acetobacter converting the alcohol to acid. To make the vinegar, the proper bacteria cultures and timing are important and the fermentation needs to be carefully controlled.
Acetic acid and water are the primary constituents of vinegar, but acetic acid is not vinegar. Vinegar contains vitamins such as riboflavin and vitamin B1 and compounds such as mineral salts as well as enzymes. The starting material is what gives the vinegar its distinct flavor.
Vinegar can be made from any fruit or any material substance that contains sugar. Because of this there are types typical to countries throughout the world, which use starting materials native to that country. Retail types include cider, white distilled, red wine, white wine, balsamic, rice, malt and sugar cane. Specialized types include raspberry, pineapple, banana and flavored such as tarragon or garlic.
In the United States no standards of identity for vinegar have been established under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. One of the landmark court decisions under the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 was that the Supreme Court in the case of U.S. v. 95 Barrels, More of Less, Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar, (265 U.S. 438, 1924), in which the Supreme Court held that vinegar made from dried apples was not the same as that which would have been produced from the apples without dehydration, and that the name "Apple Cider Vinegar" did not represent the article to be what it really was. Vinegar is classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Compliance Policy Guide, which is for labeling purposes according to the starting material and the method of manufacturing
The Food and Drug Administration considers the following to be satisfactory guidelines for the labeling of vinegars:Natural vinegars as they come from the generators normally contain in excess of 4 grams of acetic acid per 100 ml. When vinegar is diluted with water, the label must bear a statement such as "diluted with water to _______ percent acid strength", with the blank filled with the actual percent of acetic acid - in no case should it be less than 4 percent. Each of the varieties of vinegar listed below should contain 4 grams of acetic acid per 100 ml. (20 degrees C).
FDA VINEGAR DEFINITIONS
VINEGAR, CIDER VINEGAR, APPLE VINEGAR
The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations of the juice of apples.
WINE VINEGAR, GRAPE VINEGAR
The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations of the juice of grapes.
The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations, without distillation, of an infusion of barley malt or cereals whose starch has been converted by malt
The product made by the alcoholic and subsequent acetous fermentations of a solution of glucose. It is dextrorotatory
SPIRIT VINEGAR, DISTILLED VINEGAR, GRAIN VINEGAR
The product made by the acetous fermentation of dilute distilled alcohol.
VINEGAR, MADE FROM A MIXTURE OF SPIRIT VINEGAR AND CIDER VINEGAR
The product should be labeled as a blend of the products with the product names in order of predominance. This labeling is applicable to a similar product made by acetous fermentation of a mixture of alcohol and cider stock.
VINEGAR MADE FROM DRIED APPLES, APPLE CORES OR APPLE PEELS
Vinegar made from dried apples, apple cores or apple peels should be labeled as "vinegar made from ______," where the blank is filled in with the name of the apple product(s) used as the source of fermented material.
Rice or Rice Wine vinegar isn’t part of the FDA’s Compliance Policy Guide. It’s increased in popularity over the past several years and is made by the two-fold fermentation of sugars from rice or a concentrate of rice without distillation. Seasoned rice or rice wine vinegars are made from rice with the seasoning ingredients stated on the label. Balsamic vinegar also isn’t part of the FDA’s Compliance Policy Guide, but continues to grow in market share and traditional and commercial forms are available. They’re made from the juice of grapes, and some juice is subjected to an alcoholic and subsequent acetic fermentation and some to concentration or heating.
A vinegar eel is a many-celled animal and is also called a nematode or roundworm. They are easy to find wiggling in the vinegar culture jar, because they are always moving. They feed in the microbial culture called mother of vinegar that is used to create vinegar and may continue to persist in unfiltered vinegar. Vinegar eels are adapted to living in acid. Although they are harmless and non-parasitic, leaving eels in vinegar is considered objectionable and is not permitted in vinegar bottled for consumers in the United States. Manufacturers normally filter and pasteurize their product prior to bottling to prevent the eels from occurring. Vinegar eels are often given to fry or baby fish as a live food. Vinegar eels are only found in unpasteurized vinegar. Vinegar that’s been pasteurized no longer has the live bacterial and yeast culture that these nematodes require for existence.
The FDA statement on adulteration with vinegar eels is as follows:” Because some information which indicates that vinegar eels aid in vinegar production, we do not believe the finding of vinegar eels in a firm's bulk storage tanks or generators should be considered as an objectionable condition unless the firm's filtration system is not functioning or unless the eels are present in the finished product. The finding of vinegar eels in finished product would be considered objectionable and would render the finished product adulterated
If you attempt to make vinegar at home be careful. Homemade vinegar can be good for salad dressings and general purpose usage, but its acidity may not be adequate for safe use in pickling and canning. Unless you are certain the acidity is at least four percent, don’t pickle or can with it.
Mother of vinegar occurs naturally in vinegar products as the result of vinegar bacteria. Mother is cellulose produced by the bacteria. Today manufacturers pasteurize their vinegar before bottling it to prevent the bacteria from making mother while sitting on the retail shelf. People who believe in holistic healthcare believe that mother of vinegar has many health benefits, especially antibacterial and antifungal properties. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, thought vinegar was a "powerful elixir" and used the mother to fight common germs. Today mother of vinegar uses include losing and controlling weight, improving digestion, and soothing dry, sore throats. Some people use mother of vinegar externally to soothe the pain of sunburn, to prevent dandruff or itchy scalp, and maintain healthy skin. People in the Philippines use sweetened mother of vinegar to make some of their traditional desserts
Studies show that vinegar’s shelf-life is almost indefinite, because of its acidity. It doesn’t need refrigeration. Distilled vinegar will remain virtually unchanged over extended periods of time. In other types of vinegar aesthetic changes may take place, such as color change, but it can still be used with no fear.
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