I have always said that if I was stuck on a deserted island and could only pack one item to bring with me, I would probably pick vinegar. Not only is it edible, and would be a wonderful addition to the vegetable diet I would probably be eating on the island, but it can be used for a variety of medicinal, cleaning and grooming purposes.
What is vinegar?
Vinegar is made from the fermentation of ethanol (sources are usually wine, cider, beer or other fermented liquids), which produces acetic acid.
What is the difference between the different types of vinegar?
-Balsamic vinegar comes from fermented white grapes and is the most expensive and usually the best quality vinegar. This is because it is aged longer than other types of vinegars. It has a sweeter taste and thicker texture, and is usually used in salad dressings or as a dipping sauce for breads.
-Red and white wine vinegars come from wine or champagne and are usually used for salad dressings and marinades.
-Apple cider vinegar obviously comes from cider and has a mild taste. It is also good for salad dressings.
-Rice vinegar comes from rice and has less acidity than other forms of vinegar. It is used in many Asian foods.
-Malt vinegar comes from barley and is commonly used on potatoes and fried fish.
-Distilled white vinegar comes from grain alcohol and has a very unpleasant taste, making it more popular as a cleaning agent. It is rarely used in food.
In what ways does our family use vinegar?
I make many homemade salad dressings using mostly balsamic and apple cider vinegars.
We always have malt vinegar on our potatoes.
Adam loves to make homemade sushi with rice vinegar in his rice (it makes it stickier).
Vinegar is also used in our kitchen for fermenting and pickling.
Whenever I have non-organic fruit that has a visible residue (especially with apples), I make sure to soak them in a vinegar wash.
Cleaning - I gave up on commercial cleaners when I was pregnant with Gabriel. I had read somewhere that pregnant women shouldn't use harsh cleaners, especially bleach, while pregnant and figured that if it wasn't good for my unborn child it probably wasn't good for anyone. We replaced all of our household cleaners with either vinegar, baking soda, or a combination of the two. Not only does the vinegar disinfect (kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of germs/virsuses), but it also neutralizes odors and removes mineral deposits. We use it to:
clean carpet messes by covering the area with baking soda, letting it dry, vacuuming the dry soda and then spraying the area with straight vinegar.
sanitize toys and other surfaces the children touch, like high chairs and changing tables.
remove residue from kitchen appliances.
clean tubs and countertops. I like to use straight distilled white vinegar for these chores, but some people prefer to dilute it with water. Using it with baking soda (to scrub the surface) is really effective.
I add a cup of distilled white vinegar to my load of cloth diapers to help disinfect.
Vinegar also can replace liquid fabric softener in your laundry, because it reduces static cling. Don't worry, you can't smell the vinegar afterwards.
Spraying your hair with vinegar before you get out of the shower will help get rid of some of the build-up in your hair (the same way it removes build-up in household appliances) and make it shinier.
Whenever I have a mystery rash, I cover it with a little vinegar. This helps dry out the rash.
It can also take the sting out of big bites.
Although I have never used it in this way, I have read that vinegar can also be useful in treating jellyfish stings.
Adam swears by his apple cider drink. Whenever he feels like he needs a quick detoxification, he will add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it.
Vinegar has been proven to lower cholesterol.
It removes warts.
You can clear up ear infections by rinsing the ear with a vinegar solution.
Gardening - Vinegar can be used as a weed killer. Just be careful - after cleaning out my son's kiddie pool with vinegar in my front yard last summer, I noticed that it killed all the grass in the area.
I don't know what I would do without these products in my home. They are a natural alternative to many harmful chemicals and I feel safer knowing that my cleaning closet contains items that will not poison my children if they were to come in contact with them.