Vinegar is a kitchen staple. In it's simple form, it is derived from wine that has gone bad, although a variety of different starters can be used. Though not seen widely in America, you can find vinegars made from such diverse items as kiwifruit, sherry, rice wine, raisins, palm, sugar cane, beer, coconut, dates and apple cider. After the alcohol is made from the fruit or grain, it is exposed to acetic acid bacteria which convert the alcohol to vinegar, usually leaving the flavor of the original "wine" behind to flavor the vinegar. There are also the more celebrated vinegars of balsamic and East Asian Black that can be harder to find quality examples of them.
For the purpose of this writing, I will focus on the use of simple white distilled vinegar as this is the most economical and easiest to find.
So how many of these uses are new to you and how many do you think you can incorporate into your life?
Adding some vinegar to an almost used up container of mustard or ketchup can stretch it's use. Read here for more details on how to do this.
Add 1T of vinegar to the water when making hard boiled eggs to prevent a cracked egg from running out of the shell. Read more of this here.
Make your own salad dressing using a flavored vinegar and olive oil. Add herbs, garlic, shallots, mustard and minced vegetables to flavor.
When cooking fruit on the stovetop, add 1T of vinegar to improve flavor.
When making mashed potatoes, add 1 T of vinegar to the potatoes after all the milk has been added, This help to keep the mashed potatoes white.
Add 1T of vinegar to tomato sauce or a tomato based soup to finish. This enhanced the flavor of the finished dish.
Improve the flavor of boiled ham by adding 1T to the cooking water.
Add a new twist on the flavor of your next batch of hamburgers by adding 1-2 T of garlic wine vinegar and 1/2 t mustard to the raw meat. Mix well and form into patties.
When baking homemade bread, remove the bread minutes before it has completed cooking. Brush the crust of the bread with vinegar and return to the oven. This will help to give the bread a nice golden brown crust.
Make your homemade bread rise better by adding 1T vinegar for every 2 1/2 cups of flour in the recipe. Reduce other liquids by the same amount of vinegar you added.
Make meringue fluffier by adding 1/2 t vinegar for every 3 egg whites. Add before beating the whites.
Cut the overly sweet filling of your pies by adding 1t of vinegar to the filling.
Have a recipe that calls for buttermilk and you don't have any? Try this tip to substitute the buttermilk.
Freshen wilted leafy veggies by soaking in a mixture of 2 cups cold water and 1T vinegar.
Vinegar makes a great degreaser. Use it straight on greasy stove tops and wipe away the grease. Make a paste with baking soda if you need a cleaner with some abrasiveness to scrub a greasy pan.
Use a sponge soaked in straight vinegar to wipe down the gaskets of your refrigerator. It kills any mold and mildew and helps to degrease and clean the seals.
Many of these tips were taken from the book, "Heinz Distilled White Vinegar- Over 1000 helpful Household Hints" by Christine Halvorson.