Vinegar is a liquid substance that is often used in cooking and for household cleaning. It comes in a number of different varieties including white, brown, balsamic, apple cider, malt and wine, just to name a few. It consists mainly of acetic acid and water. Many types of vinegar that are used for culinary purposes are infused with herbs and spices and mixed with other substances such as honey or sugar to add flavor. White vinegar is a variety of vinegar that is actually clear in color. It is a great base vinegar as it is widely available and affordable.
How Is White Vinegar Made?
Vinegar is made by converting ethyl alcohol (ethanol) into acetic acid by fermenting an alcohol such as wine or ale. Acetic acid bacteria convert the ethyl alcohol into acetic acid. White vinegar is made in much the same way as any sort of vinegar. White vinegar is a distilled version of other varieties of vinegar and is most often used for cleaning and for pickling. White vinegar is commonly distilled from malt vinegar due to the low cost of manufacturing malt vinegar. White vinegar is a solution of 5% to 8% acetic acid in water.
Malt vinegar is made by malting a grain, usually barley. The first step in malting the barley is to dry it until it has moisture content of below 14. It is then stored for six weeks before being used. The barley is then placed into water over a two to three day period to allow it to germinate. Once the barley begins to germinate it is taken out of the water and air dried with large electric fans. Then it is placed in a kiln to dry it to the correct coloring. The process of malting turns the starches in the grains into sugars. When barley is malted the starches turn into a sugar known as maltose. The maltose is then fermented to produce ale. This ale is then further fermented to transform it into vinegar. The vinegar is then aged before being packaged and sold.
Once the malt vinegar has aged appropriately it can be transformed into white vinegar. Distilling the vinegar removes the acetic acid from the other ingredients of the vinegar (maltose). This is done by heating the vinegar to boiling point to separate the two components. Once the acetic acid is removed from the malt vinegar it is added to water, which creates the product we know as white vinegar.