Cooking With Vinegar: Why You Should Use It to Benefit Your Health

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Vinegar is one of the most versatile ingredients you can use when you’re cooking. It adds zing to salad dressings, tang to barbecue marinades and rubs, and even makes food look more appealing. Cooking with vinegar changes the whole flavor and appearance of many dishes. You can also use it to preserve food – pickled cucumbers, anyone? – And add it to sauces and salads to boost your vitamin and mineral intake.

Furthermore, vinegar can lower your cholesterol, stabilize your blood sugar levels, and much, much more!

Cooking with vinegar also boosts your immunity, meaning you won’t get sick with colds and flu as often. And with fall and winter approaching, using any culinary tool you can to avoid illness is a great way to keep the family healthy. There is no question that vinegar is one of your best “go-to” ingredients when cooking, not just for its robust flavor, but because it helps keep you and your family strong and healthy.

In this post, we offer several ways you can use vinegar in your kitchen and explain some of the key health benefits it offers.

Vinegar: what is it & how is it produced?

The word vinegar derives from the French term “vin aigre,” which means “sour wine.” Vinegar has been around for thousands of years, and people throughout the centuries have used it for medicinal purposes, cooking and preserving food, just like we do today. The story goes that, a very long time ago, someone stumbled upon a jug of wine that had turned, and voila! Vinegar became a much-enjoyed substance in kitchens all over Asia and Europe.

Vinegar is produced by fermenting alcohol with acetic acid bacteria. This mixture creates a liquid that contains acid (and virtually no booze!) and that’s what lends vinegar its sourness. We often think of wine and cider when we think of vinegar because alcohol is needed to make it. And of course, you need sugar to make alcohol in the first place, which then turns into vinegar. None of this process is particularly complicated, but it can’t be done quickly. Here’s an example: unpasteurized apple juice, left standing, eventually morphs into cider. That’s because natural fruit sugar if left alone, turns into alcohol. Leave it sitting even longer and it becomes acetic acid – which is vinegar. This process can indeed take as long as one year.

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Health benefits of vinegar

Documents from ancient China, the Middle East, and Greece highlight vinegar’s medicinal properties. In the modern world, vinegar is commonly promoted as a beneficial treatment for everything from chronic illnesses to weight loss.

It’s the acid in vinegar that gives it so many advantages in terms of your health. One of those advantages that folks often don’t realize is that cooking with vinegar is a great way to reduce the amount of salt in recipes. Vinegar gives food a tangy zest, and because it lends such a zippy taste to meals, you may not need added sodium. Furthermore, cooking with vinegar doesn’t add calories at all. (Balsamic vinegar is the one exception – it has a modest number, about seven calories per tablespoon.)

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Vinegar helps you digest food

The acid in vinegar, called acetic acid, contains probiotics that enhance gut health and help you break down and process foods.

Vinegar stabilizes blood glucose levels

Vinegar is an excellent food for those with Diabetes. Recent research has proven that vinegar stimulates insulin in Diabetics. For those people who are insulin resistant, vinegar helps combat insulin insensitivity. Ingesting two teaspoons of vinegar at bedtime may improve health outcomes for Diabetic patients.

Vinegar reduces cholesterol levels

Cholesterol accumulating in arteries potentially leads to heart disease and stroke. It thickens those arteries, which makes it more difficult for blood to flow freely. But cooking with vinegar and ingesting it reduces cholesterol levels. Cooking with vinegar is an easy way to consume it regularly in your diet, but also drinking apple cider vinegar helps too. Balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar both have plenty of antioxidants, and they help eliminate the toxic cells that increase cholesterol levels.

Vinegar can aid in weight loss

Vinegar is packed with minerals, amino acids, and vitamins that can lower triglycerides in your body, and accelerate weight loss. One study in Asia showed that when obese mice were given vinegar, they developed less fat than other mice. Furthermore, in a separate study, people who were given a little bread and vinegar felt more sated than those who were fed only bread.

Vinegar boosts immunity

Fruit can be used to make vinegar, and fruit is loaded with antioxidants. These powerful chemicals combat cell damage and enhance your body’s immunity. Apple cider vinegar is one example of vinegar that’s packed with good bacteria and prebiotics that boost your immunity. Vinegar also has other properties that ward off bad bacteria, helping your body resist infections and viruses and heal more quickly. So vinegar doesn’t just taste good and boost flavor, it helps your body stay strong, vital, and healthy. And it delivers all that without adding any calories to your diet, or almost none! What could be better? A much bigger bank for your nutrition buck!

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How to cook with vinegar to get the most benefits

When you cook with vinegar, you open a whole window of possibilities that creates a huge variety of different flavors. Vinegar adds incredible tang and zest to marinades and rubs for meat going on the barbecue or in the oven. And it tenderizes meat cuts that can lean toward toughness – a flank steak, for example. Make a marinade with the vinegar, a little salt and pepper, and garlic, and let the meat stand for 30 minutes or overnight. Suddenly, a cut that used to be chewy and difficult to cook properly is flavourful and tender.

And don’t forget the vegetables! A sauce with a dollop of vinegar makes even tame veggies sing! The same is true of a marinade made for fish. Even plain white fish – sole is a great example – tastes better and brighter with a vinegar marinade.

Pair oil and vinegar

One of the most common ways to cook with vinegar is to mix vinegar with oil for excellent salad dressing. Making salad dressing with vinegar livens up the simplest mix of greens. Instead of buying salad dressing in a bottle at the grocery store, mix your own each time you make a salad – it’s fresh, flavourful and you can make just the right amount each time you need it. Mix a quarter cup of olive oil and two or three teaspoons of balsamic or red wine vinegar with salt, pepper, and your favorite spices. (We like dried basil and oregano). Shake it all together in a jar, pour over your salad, toss and serve. Even a modest salad of lettuce, tomato, and a little onion tastes a whole lot better with some homemade vinaigrette tossed over it.

Holar - Blog - Cooking With Vinegar Why You Should Use It to Benefit Your Health - Pair oil and vinegar salad dressing

Using vinegar beyond the salad bowl

Yes, vinegar is a must-have for delicious homemade salad dressing. But there is so much more you can do with it! As we said, it’s the perfect ingredient in barbecue ribs and marinades. But use it on chicken and fish too. And when you’re ready to serve hot vegetables as a side dish with dinner, sprinkle a little balsamic vinegar over them before placing the bowl on the table. It lends a bite to crisp veggies, like asparagus and broccoli. It seeps into them and gives them a tasty zing. Or mix a splash of red wine vinegar with a teaspoon of softened butter, then brush it over the vegetables. Your vegetables move from mundane to magnificent with one stroke of the brush!

And there are even more dishes you can use vinegar in, like desserts and yummy cold drinks for kids of all ages.

When you add vinegar during cooking matters

Knowing when to add vinegar to your cooking is key for using it properly and making the most of it. Of course, most recipes direct you on this, but sometimes, if you’re adding just a dash of vinegar before serving a dish, it’s important the food doesn’t sit in the vinegar for too long. Splashing a dollop on the veggies, for example, should be done at the last moment, so they don’t sit and absorb too much of its flavor. And remember that vinegar’s taste changes with time.

For example: let’s say you’ve made a rub or marinade for the ribs you’re getting ready to barbecue. The flavor of the vinegar lessens if the meat sits soaking in a marinade for hours in the fridge. Vinegar has plenty of bites and tangs when you make salad dressing and serve it immediately. But it loses some of its punch if it sits too long, and will taste a lot different when you grill meat that’s been marinading for hours at a stretch.

Choose the right vinegar for the right situation

Not every vinegar is right for every recipe. Every vinegar has its own taste, its own characteristics, and tang. For pickling, plain white vinegar is the ideal choice. For salad dressings, red wine vinegar or balsamic are both good options. Rice vinegar is appropriate for almost every Asian dish. You should always go with the vinegar recommended in recipes because this is not the right time to improvise! Every vinegar has a unique flavor, so follow the recipe guidelines when it comes to type and amount.

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Does vinegar have an expiry date?

A lot of folks keep vinegar in the fridge, which is perfectly fine but unnecessary in most cases. Fruit vinegar might go bad if it’s left on a pantry shelf for months, but other types last amazingly well.

It’s easy to tell if your vinegar is usable by sniffing the contents of the bottle or jug. If you’re still not sure whether it’s fresh, try a teaspoon. A quick sip will let you know whether your vinegar is fine, or whether it’s time to replace the bottle. A good rule of thumb is this: if it’s more than six months old, replace the bottle with a fresh one.

No matter what kind of vinegar you like and enjoy cooking with, it is a vital ingredient you should keep it away from direct sunlight. A cool dark place such as your pantry or a kitchen cabinet can be a great place that makes your vinegar last a very long time.

Conclusion

Cooking with vinegar doesn’t just add robust flavor and terrific taste to a huge variety of foods. Did you know you can use it to clean your home in an environmentally friendly way? You can! Mix some baking soda with white vinegar and clean your tub, toilet, sinks, and a whole lot of other areas in your home. White vinegar even works to clean your car, and your kitchen floor and it even kills weeds and pests in the garden! Vinegar is a product that truly deserves its reputation as an inexpensive ingredient that has many uses in your kitchen, far beyond your favorite recipes.

Along with its versatility, vinegar offers health benefits that can’t be beaten. All its talents combine to make vinegar one of your kitchen’s most important staples!

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