Don’t let those bottles of vinegar go to waste! Did you know that balsamic and wine vinegars are a sneaky chef hack that (when used properly) lead to heightened flavor in your recipes and more delicious meals? It’s true. There are a couple of characteristics about vinegar to keep in mind that will help you choose which vinegar to use and also understand how it aids the cooking process.
First, vinegar is perishable. Throw away those years old bottles, please! After about six months vinegar starts to lose its punch, so to speak. Buy small bottles and keep using it. We’ll show you how below.
Vinegar is a natural meat tenderizer. This is why it’s used in many marinades. Using a splash of vinegar in your meat marinade not only adds flavor, but it also breaks down protein strands, yielding a more pliable cut of meat.
Vinegar coagulates the milk proteins into curds. This is how we can get buttermilk, yogurt and sour cream.
Vinegar helps to stabilize and fluff up egg whites. This is great for baking! When you’re making a souffle or a meringue, you really want those big, fluffy peaks of soft, glossy egg whites. Adding just a 1/4 tsp of white vinegar for each egg white will help you achieve this, and you won’t even taste it.
But what about taste? Surely that plays a part in selecting which vinegar to use for which recipe. I’m going to detail for you our favorite vinegars at Colavita and the best ways to use them based on flavor profile and cooking application.
First up is our classiest vinegar, balsamic. Balsamic Vinegar is made from unfermented grape must, while wine vinegar is made with fermented grape must. Colavita Balsamic Vinegar is IGP certified, verifying it as a true product of Italy, traditionally produced in the Italian regions of Modena and Emilia Romana.
I use balsamic in sauces, baked goods, and as a glaze for roasted vegetables. For sauces, turn to balsamic vinegar when you’re looking to deepen the flavor. My favorite example of this is adding about 2 tablespoons of balsamic to a pot of simmering marinara sauce. The sweet and tangy flavor profile of the balsamic adds punch to the tomatoes—no recipe required! Balsamic is also my go-to for a really robust BBQ sauce. Just a splash really brings out the tomato flavor of ketchup and the spices.
Because balsamic vinegar, and its close cousin balsamic glaze, have a sweeter flavor profile, they’re a great addition to baking recipes, especially those containing fruit or chocolate. It accentuates the chocolate flavor, like in this Chocolate Pear Olive Oil Cake. For fruit, it adds a tangy sweetness like in this Apple Crumble. For something simpler, I love marinating berries in balsamic vinegar and serving them with a little whipped or ice cream. Don’t want to tarnish the color of your finished dish? Use our White Balsamic Vinegar instead!
White Wine Vinegar
Our White Wine Vinegars are perfect for adding a light acidic punch to creamy white dipping sauces like our Healthy Ranch Dressing. The same holds true for pulling together a coleslaw. It really brightens up the flavors!
A popular use for Colavita White Vinegar is in a quick pickle. No need to ferment for ages, our White Wine Vinegar gives you just the punch you need for sweet and tangy pickled veggies. You can also make a delicious sweet and savory jam with a touch of white vinegar, like tomato marmalade.
Colavita Red Wine Vinegar is great for sauces that need more acid—chimichurri is a great example. You can also use it in red sauces to add punch, especially when combined with citrus flavors like these Tomato Orange Chicken Meatballs or to deglaze a pan instead of red wine when cooking meat.
Of course, any of our vinegars can be used as a salad dressing, but we wanted to give you something outside the lettuce leaf to show you how versatile and useful vinegar can be. So break out those bottles and get cooking!