It’s ironic that vinegar—a product with dozens of practical uses today—was once considered a nuisance.  Before the invention of the wine cork,  wine flasks were sealed with clay and wax.  When these cracked and let in air, the wine went sour.  Because of this unwelcome phenomenon,  the French called it “vin aigre,” which translates as “sour wine.”


However, to produce vinegar, it’s not necessary to begin with wine or even with an alcoholic beverage.  Any liquid containing sugar or starch can be made to ferment. Balsamic vinegar, for example, is made from must (unfermented juice).


Just naming the most common types of vinegar  gets you a sizable list: red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar--and you've barely scratched the surface!  Would you believe coconut vinegar,  raspberry vinegar, honey vinegar and even  beer vinegar (must be over 21)?  And then there's just plain old ordinary vinegar, aka "distilled vinegar,” which is the one your grandmother used to clean the kitchen and your college roommate used to make pickles on the weekends instead of doing homework. All these vinegars smell and taste quite different from each other, but what they all have in common is having acetic acid as the key ingredient (though they vary widely in acidic content). 


Most people assume that vinegar can't go bad, but, in truth, the qualities that give vinegar its taste will tend to evaporate eventually (albeit very slowly), so, once you've opened a vinegar container, keep it in a cool place (refrigeration is optional) and use it within a year, after which it will start to lose its flavor and will cease to be an effective cleaning product as well.


What else is there to say about the product?  Click here to view YouTube’s warning about what not to do with vinegar:

Vinegar Shelf Life
Vinegar, opened1 year
Vinegar, unopened2 years
Handling Tips: 
Keep tightly closed. Slightly cloudy appearance doesn't affect quality. Distilled vinegar keeps longer than cider vinegar.
Boyer, Renee, and Julie McKinney. "Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers." Virginia Cooperative Extension (2009): n. pag. Web. 7 Dec 2009.

"Cupboard Storage Chart." K-State Research and Extension n. pag. Web. 23 Dec 2009. <>.

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