The Egyptians learnt that it made possible to preserve food for a long time. In Ancient Greece Hippocrates prescribed it as a cure for wounds and plagues. Later, in Rome, became very common the posca, a mixing of water, vinegar,honey and spices with refreshing and strengthening powers that was used even by the legionaries to deal with long and exhausting marches. During the banquets there was always the acetabulum, a cup full of vinegar where people used to dip pieces of bread to promote digestion. Also from the Re Coquinaria, a book from III or IV century A.D. attributed to the famous gastronome Marco Gavio Apicio, we learn that meals where cooked, marinated or flavored with vinegar, and the usual legionaries meal before the battle was the the moretum, a salad made of garlic, onion, rue, goat cheese and coriander, flavored with oil and vinegar. Not only, even the variety we know today as balsamic, has its roots in the ancient Rome. It was different at the time, people used to unite honey to cooked mus, juniper, rue, cumin and other spices.
During history vinegar was investigated and studied, to understand the chemical processes that brings to its development – various fermentations are involved, the first one turns sugars into alcol, the second oxidizes alcol in acetic acid – and to know the effects it has on the organism. In fact, besides the properties already known from the Romans, vinegar is useful also to keep hypertension under control and reduce blood glucose levels, thanks to its content of acetic acid. But we must be careful not to abuse it and is extremely important to read labels before purchasing it as in the market we don’t only find quality materials but also vinegars obtained by manufacturing processes, made of synthetic acetic acid with added colouring matter or vinegar that come from cheap wines with a too high acetic acid concentration. In addition, it is advisable not to buy too clear vinegars as this means they have been clarified, bleached, and no longer have active substances.
The best vinegar, among the ones we use in our country, is the apple one that contains only malic acid which helps blood to clot, the balance of menstual cycle, the functionality of blood vessels, veins and arteries, and the formation of red blood cells.
Many variants of vinegar are spread across the world, they goes beyond the classicals that we use in Italy: in Germany and in Netherlands they produce beer vinegar, in Japan the rice vinegar is very common while in India coconut vinegar is used in many typical dishes. Coconut vinegar can be produced in two different ways. The first consists in the collection of coconut palm flowers, reducing them to nectar and successively acetifying them, that is what will give to the vinegar a browinish color. The second processing method involves the fermentation of the liquid extracted from the coconut that this time will give to the obtained vinegar a milky-white colour.
On the market we can find many other particular and interesting vinegars such as cherry vinegar, passion fruit vinegar, pear vinegar, honey vinegar. If you notice a too long ingredients list or there are sugars, pectins, added flavourings, it is better not tu buy them, also if the flavourings are natural, because unfortunately some used methods of extracting involve harmful chemical solvents.