Pickles are something which adds piquant flavor to your meals. Their spicy and tangy taste add more flavors to food and are, broadly, used almost in every kitchen. They can be made at home or you can easily grab them from any supermarket. No doubt, they’re very easy to made and give wonderful taste but the major task is to preserve them for a long period of time, for this purpose Vinegar helps a lot. This article will explore the question why vinegar is used in pickling.
Vinegar is a kind of an aqueous solution of acetic acid and some other trace chemicals. They are largely used in cooking and to preserve various kinds of foods. Vinegar is preservative in nature that’s why they are used to preserve food, mainly, Pickles. And we will also trace the different types of vinegar used for pickling.
Science of Vinegar
Vinegar is, basically, an acidic liquid that is made through fermentation of ethanol alcohol or other diluted alcohol products. It usually contains 5-20% volume of acetic acid. Acetic acid is the main ingredient in vinegar which provide its acidic property.
Properties of Vinegar
There are some physical and chemical properties of vinegar.
The chemical properties of vinegar includes its chemical formula. Chemical formula alludes to the chemical composition of acetic acid as vinegar is basically a dilute solution of this acid. A molecule of acetic acid contains four hydrogen, two carbon and two oxygen atoms. Vinegar also has a pH level that refers to the number of hydrogen ions in the solution. Its pH and acidic nature also stop the growth of Bacteria in foods.
Generally Density varies depending on the composition of vinegar, and is analyzed through hydrometer. In addition to density, vinegar also has a specific gravity. Specific gravity refers to the ratio of density to the density of a controlled substance. The physical properties of vinegar,vary depending on the type and amount of minerals, vitamins etc used for its production. These elements generate slight variations in color, level of acidity and nutritional value. These properties made vinegar, a very consistent, ingredient for preserving various kinds of foods and vegetables as well as pickels.
Why vinegar is used in pickling
Firstly, there are two methods, used, for pickling i.e Preservation by submerging into vinegar or Fermentation caused by a chemical reaction between naturally present bacteria and a food’s sugars. We will focus on the first method, that why vinegar is important while pickling and which type of vinegar will be more suitable for this process.
Sour and Piquant taste
Vinegar is used in pickling to provide tangy and sour taste to the desired stuff. Some people liked to have pickles to add some sour and stingy taste in their meals. More commonly, and in wide range, used in Eastern countries. For this purpose (pickling) they add some other salty and sour ingredients along with Vinegar because vinegar itself is very stingy in taste and it also preserves foods, vegetables, pickles etc.
Pickling needs Preservation
Pickles are something that needs to be preserve for a long period of time, we can’t make pickles on daily basis. Pickling is a time taking process and in order to preserve them we use vinegar, because it is the best technique for this procedure. As vinegar is acidic in nature so it prevents several microorganisms from growing and its pH maintain the temperature, needed, as well as stingy taste in pickles.
Preserving nature of Vinegar
Now we’ll look upon how vinegar preserves food. So, the main cause of spoilage of foods is the growth of microorganisms, they could be yeast, moulds, bacteria etc. Some of them can be harmful, like pathogens, if they would be present in your food. Others are not harmful but they’ll still break down the food and make it nasty to devour. For preservation we want to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. In two ways we can preserve foods:
- Cold temperatures prevents the growth of microorganisms that’s why we store food in the refrigerator or freezer to stop them from spoiling.
- Acidic environments also inhibits the survival of microorganisms.
Acidity is a Key to Preserve foods
By immersing foods in an acidic environment like vinegar we can stop bacteria or yeasts from growing on the food and we can make it safe to eat for much longer periods of time. It isn’t the only acid used in preserving foods as we know lacto fermentation is another example of preserving food. It also shows that even a low pH, acidic environments can prevent many microorganisms from growing or surviving, not all of them.
Types of Vinegar
There are several types of vinegar as they can be made from any food that contains natural sugars. Yeast ferments these sugars into alcohol, and some specific types of bacteria convert that alcohol, a second time, into vinegar. We’ll discuss those which are used commonly used.
This is the most common type of vinegar in used in every household. It is made either from grain-based ethanol or laboratory-produced acetic acid and then diluted with water. Its flavor is a bit sour for cooking, but it is wonderful for pickling and performing some cleaning chaos.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is the second most common type of vinegar. As its name shows, this light yellowish brown vinegar is made from apple cider. It adds a sour and fine fruity flavor to your cooking. This type of vinegar is best for salads, marinades etc.
This type of vinegar is made from mingling of either red wines or white wines and is common in Europe. Red wine vinegar is often flavored with natural raspberry flavoring. Good wine vinegar are made from best wines and are preserved for a couple of years or more in wooden casks.
Very pale yellow, rice vinegar was originated in Japan, where it is essential to sushi preparation. Rice vinegar is made from the sugars found in rice, and serves a delicate flavor. Its red and black varieties are popular in China. Rice vinegar is used in Asian cooking and is greatly sprinkled on salads and stir-fry dishes.