I am a Christian. I believe in the God of the Bible, in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (NIV)" I am a biochemist and a pharmacist by education. As such I have a desire to understand nature. I am writing this blog as my way to express the facts of true science as I understand them, from the perspective of one who believes that all things were created by God, for God and for His purposes.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vinegar Is Not Just For Catching Flies

"Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar"
~ Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 - April 17, 1790)

Ben Franklin was comparing the tang of vinegar to the acid sharpness of terse words. I prefer it on my salad! Vinegar has been in use since man first made wine, in fact the word comes from the Old French "vin aigre", which translates into "sour wine." Vinegar is a liquid produced from the fermentation of ethanol yielding its key ingredient, acetic acid. Ninety percent of Americans buy vinegar, using it mainly for salads, in cooking, home canning and for cleaning.

Acetic Acid is an organic compound with the chemical formula CH3COOH. It is a colorless liquid called glacial acetic acid when pure. Acetic acid is the main component of vinegar (diluted in water), and has a distinctive sour taste and pungent smell.

Vinegar is made from the oxidation of ethanol in an alcoholic liquid, such as wine, fermented fruit juice, or beer. There are two processes of fermentation that differ by speed of production, fast and slow. Fast fermentation takes only hours to days but requires the use of equipment to oxidize the ethanol. Slow fermentation is a natural process taking weeks or months. During this time a nontoxic slime composed of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria called mother of vinegar accumulates in the liquid. Also a part of the fermenting vinegar may be the non-parasitic nematodes called vinegar eels, which are free-living creatures that feed on the mother. While they have been shown to be harmless to humans, they are usually filtered out before bottling.

Vinegar can be made from many alcoholic liquids. Some examples include:
  • Malt Vinegar - Made by malting barley, causing the starch in the grain to turn to maltose. Then an ale is brewed from the maltose and allowed to turn into vinegar. In the United Kingdom, salt and malt vinegar is a traditional seasoning for chips and crisps.
  • Wine Vinegar - Made from red or white wine, it is the most commonly used vinegar in Mediterranean countries and Central Europe. Better quality wine vinegars are matured in wood for up to two years, and exhibit a complex, mellow flavor. Wine vinegar tends to have a lower acidity than that of white or cider vinegars.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - Made from cider or apple must, it has a brownish-yellow color. It often is sold unfiltered and unpasteurized with the mother of vinegar still present. Due to its extra acidity, cider vinegar may be very harsh, even burning, to the throat. It is usually used diluted and sometimes sweetened with sugar or honey.
  • Balsamic Vinegar - An aromatic, aged type of vinegar traditionally crafted in Italy from the concentrated juice, or must, of white grapes. It is a very dark brown color, and has a rich, sweet, and complex flavor. True balsamic vinegar is aged for 12 to 25 years. The commercial balsamic sold in supermarkets today is typically made with concentrated grape juice mixed with a strong vinegar and laced with caramel and sugar. Balsamic vinegar has a high acidity level, but the tart flavor is usually hidden by the sweetness of the other ingredients.
  • Rice Vinegar - The most popular in East and Southeast Asia, it is available in white, red, and black varieties. White rice vinegar has a mild acidity and a somewhat "flat", uncomplex flavor. Red rice vinegar is colored with red yeast rice. Black rice vinegar, made with black glutinous rice, is most popular in China. Some varieties of rice vinegar are sweetened or otherwise seasoned with spices or other added flavorings.
  • Distilled Vinegar - Any type of vinegar may be distilled to produce a colorless solution of about 5% to 8% acetic acid in water. This is variously known as distilled spirit, virgin, or white vinegar, and is used for medicinal, laboratory and cleaning purposes. It can also be used in cooking, baking, meat preservation, and pickling. The most common starting vinegar, because of its low cost, is malt vinegar.
  • Spirit Vinegar - The term 'spirit vinegar' is sometimes reserved for the stronger variety (5% to 20% acetic acid) made from sugar cane or from chemically produced acetic acid.
The more common kitchen uses of vinegar include:
  • Salad Dressing - Many dressing recipes call for a vinegar and oil base.
  • Condiment for fish and chips — in the UK and Ireland salt and malt vinegar is sprinkled on chips.
  • Flavoring for potato chips — many manufacturers of packaged potato chips and crisps feature at least one variety flavored with vinegar and salt.
  • Vinegar Pie — a farm favorite made with common kitchen ingredients, it is flavored with a small amount of cider vinegar and may contain raisins, spices and sour cream.
  • Pickling — any vinegar can be used to pickle foods.
  • Apple cider vinegar - Usually placed on the table in small bowls or cups so that people can dip crab meat. Also mixed with water and used to steam crabs.
  • Substitute for fresh lemon juice — cider vinegar can usually be substituted for fresh lemon juice in recipes and obtain a pleasing effect.
  • Saucing roast lamb — pouring cider vinegar over the roasting lamb, especially when combined with honey or sliced onions, produces a sauce.
Vinegar has been used medically over the millennia and in many different cultures, however, few uses have been verified through controlled medical trials. Even uses shown to be effective have side effects and may cause serious health risks. Some medical uses include:
  • Soothing for sunburns - White vinegar applied as a spray to a tissue draped over a sunburn helps restore the lost acidity of the skin, and gives a cooling effect.
  • Possible cholesterol and triacylglycerol effects - Reduced risk of fatal ischemic heart disease was observed among participants in a trial who ate vinegar and oil salad dressings frequently.
  • Blood glucose control and diabetic management - Small amounts of vinegar added to food, or taken along with a meal, have been shown by a number of medical trials to reduce the glycemic index of carbohydrate food for people with and without diabetes.
  • Diet control - Several trials indicate that taking vinegar with food increases the feeling of fullness and thus reduces the amount consumed.
  • Antimicrobial use - Vinegar has been used to fight infections since Hippocrates prescribed it for curing persistent coughs. As a result, vinegar is popularly believed to be effective against infections.
White vinegar is often used as a household cleaning agent, usually diluted with water. Being acidic, it dissolves mineral deposits from glass, coffee makers, and other smooth surfaces. Vinegar sprinkled onto crumpled newspaper is a traditional, and still-popular, method of cleaning windows and mirrors. It is also used for polishing brass or stainless steel. Vinegar is an excellent solvent for cleaning epoxy resin and hardener, even after the epoxy has begun to harden. It is also an eco-friendly urine cleaner for pets and a weed killer. Vinegar has been marketed as an environmentally-friendly solution for many household cleaning problems. You can learn more about vinegar at The Vinegar Institute and see other unique uses for vinegar at 131 Uses for Vinegar.

Matthew 27:48 - "Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink."

1 comment:

  1. You know, I have often wondered why Jesus was offered vinegar (when he was on the cross). Was it a 'slap-in-the-face' gesture or, if an act of good will, what do you suppose was the benefit to Christ? Thinking out loud... perhaps it was the alcoholic content of the vinegar... that would help mitigate the pain?