There are many types of vinegar and so many are delicious and contain tons of benefits. From Apple Cider weight loss to white vinegar for cleaning, there are endless uses. But what vinegar is best for your dishes? Read on to learn more about what types of vinegar you can use and the robust flavors to help your next meal pop.
(picture provided courtesy of my good friend Diana at Eating Richly)
If you’re looking to stock your pantry for go-to dinners, you need a great selection of vinegar. With the incredible variation in flavors, vinegar can spice up a bland dish, create a side out of a handful of pantry ingredients, and entice even the pickiest eaters.
But, the world of vinegar can be a little confusing and a bit overwhelming. Have you ever stared at the beautiful bottles of vinegar with a puzzled look on your face? Or brought a chosen bottle home to find you’ve never experimented with it?
Common Types of Vinegar for Cooking
There are several common types of vinegar for cooking you can include in your pantry today. Each of these will bring their own snappy flavor to your dishes and pair well with a wide variety of cuisines.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples. It is one of the mildest types of vinegar and relatively inexpensive. The slightly sweet flavor from the apples make it a great way to start adding vinegar to your dishes. It works fantastic in all types of marinades and is great for dressings and salads.
Although science is still iffy on it, many swear by the medicinal and antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar is the darling of Italian cooking and is coveted and collected, much like fine wines. Unlike other types of vinegar that are made from fermented ingredients, balsamic vinegar is made much like wine. You can add balsamic vinegar to marinates, dressings, drizzle it over goat cheese crostini, or cook it down into a lovely syrup.
I love to drizzle the syrup over roasted vegetables and even beef or chicken. You want to choose a good quality balsamic vinegar for the best flavor, but beware, it can get really pricey for the good stuff.
How could champagne get any better?
Make it into champagne vinegar. This vinegar has a light and refreshing flavor that is subtle and mellower than other vinegar. This fresh flavor can be lost when used in cooking, but stands out best when used in dressings, or drizzled over fish or fruit.
If you have leftover champagne (I don’t really know what that is), you can use it to make your own champagne vinegar.
It’s pretty hard to enjoy authentic fish and chips without that sharp malt vinegar flavor. Malt vinegar is made from fermented ale, giving it that distinct nutty flavor we love in things like beer batter.
Malt vinegar is a favorite in British cooking where they drizzle it over all kinds meats, sides and salads.
Red wine vinegar
Red wine vinegar is another booze-based vinegar, although the end result is non-alcoholic.
One of the most popular vinegar’s in the US, you can use it to spice up any salad or main dish. Red wine vinegar has a sharp and pungent flavor that sparks up roasted dishes in a unique way. Like other types of vinegar, red wine vinegar has been linked a number of health benefits as well.
Rice vinegar is a staple in various types of Asian cuisine and comes in several different varieties, depending on the rice and technique used to make it.
It has a very light flavor and is less acidic than other vinegar which makes it perfect for dipping sauces, salads and seafood dishes.
Sherry vinegar is sort of a dark horse when it comes to vinegar. However, I love the toasted, unexpected flavor in all kinds of dishes.
You can substitute sherry vinegar for balsamic vinegar and enjoy the caramel undertones that brighten other flavors. Made in Spain, it is also much less expensive than balsamic vinegar, and the quality varies less from brand to brand. Try it on grilled fruits, summer salads, meats, and more.
While white vinegar is a standard for pickling and certain condiments but is not usually a favorite for cooking.
If you choose to use it as a base for a marinade or dressing, be sure to pair it with strong contrasting flavors – namely sugar or strong herbs. Absent that, use it to clean your coffee maker, scrub stubborn pans, remove water stains from a shower head, and get your window gleaming.
(picture provided courtesy of my good friend Courtney at Know Your Produce)
White wine vinegar
The counterpoint to red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar is made from white grapes (as the name implies). In most kitchens, white wine vinegar is a generalist workhorse, jumping in for a bright burst of flavor in pasta or vegetable dishes, but without a lot of the pizzazz offered by sherry or balsamic vinegar.
Keep a bottle on hand in your pantry. Just don’t be afraid to add it to whatever you might be cooking up!
Whatever you’ll be making tonight, I hope you experiment and try some of these lovely kinds of vinegar. Go and see what sort of side dishes you can create!