In the beginning, in my mother's kitchen, there was distilled white vinegar, good for pickling and preserving, and killing weeds and washing windows. I never did the actual window washing when I was young, but I remember the smell of vinegar going up my nose whenever I peered into the wash bucket.
Then came red wine vinegar, standard fare in a lot of Italian cooking, but I grew up non-Italian, so to us it was exotic.
Then, somehow, all the rest of the vinegars seemed to find their way to our pantry at once: balsamic (now my go-to for salad dressings and drizzles on fruit and cheese) and white balsamic, rice and rice wine and seasoned rice vinegars for Chinese cooking, and cider vinegar, for chutneys and salad dressings.
Ah, the "sweet" vinegars.
Who knew that something so acid could also be so mild, so delicate, so... well, fruity?
What is cider vinegar?
A liquid made from the fermented juice of apples, diluted with water to a uniform strength of 5% acidity.
How/where to store:
In the cupboard, at room temperature, indefinitely. Vinegar is a natural preservative; over time some of the "must" will coagulate in the bottom of the bottle, but it does not harm the vinegar.
More facts about cider vinegar, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Cider vinegar (Recipe: tomato-nectarine chutney)
Blue cheese cole slaw
In New England (and maybe everywhere else, too), summer means barbecue, and barbecue demands cole slaw and potato salad on the side. Inspired by a Barefoot Contessa recipe, this cole slaw goes beyond what's required for a proper New England cookout; it's positively decadent. If you have cabbage in your garden, you can use that plus a few shredded carrots instead of cole slaw mix. I like a mild blue cheese, like our local Great Hill Blue, but if you prefer a stronger Roquefort, go for it. Serves 8.
1 lb packaged cole slaw mix (shredded red and green cabbage and carrots)
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
A pinch of sugar or 1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 tsp celery seed
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup mild blue cheese, crumbled, or more to taste
Place the cole slaw mix in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar or honey, celery seed, kosher salt, and black pepper. Taste, and adjust as needed. Pour enough mayonnaise dressing over the grated vegetables and toss to moisten well. Add crumbled blue cheeseand toss together.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Other recipes that use cider vinegar:
Potato salad with sweet potatoes and red onion, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Apple cider vinegar chicken, from Blog Appetit
Pickled yellow wax beans, from The Amateur Gourmet
Crisp polenta cakes with braised cabbage and beans, from Herbivoracious
Goan curried braised beef with potatoes, cider vinegar and coconut milk, from The Spiced Life
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