Have you ever wondered why do many of the prepared food materials taste sour? Why do salads or pickles taste so nice? Is there any flavoring agent used for this purpose? There are so many questions to which there’s only a single answer. Vinegar!
The flavoring agent which causes a sour taste in many of the prepared foods is none other than Vinegar. So lets get into the depth detailing of Vinegar Production.
What is a Vinegar?
Vinegar is an alcoholic liquid. It is a sour taste. We use vinegar primarily to flavor and preserve foods and as an ingredient in salad dressings and marinades. It also acts as a cleaning agent
The word is from the French Vin (wine) and aigre (sour).
Vinegar consists of 5 – 20% acetic acid(CH3COOH), water and other trace chemicals like flavourings. The acetic acid is formed by the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria.
Types Of Vinegar :
Apple cider vinegar: Prepared from cider or apple. It has golden brown colour.
Balsamic Vinegar: Prepared from Trebbiano grapes. it has a dark brown appearance.
Cane Vinegar: It is prepared from sugar cane juice.It is dark yellow t golden brown colour.
Coconut vinegar: It is prepared from coconut water.It is cloudy white in appearance.
Date vinegar: It is prepared from dates.
Distilled vinegar: It is prepared by fermentation of distilled alcohol.
Fruit Vinegar: Made from fruit wines.
Honey Vinegar: Made from honey.
Vinegar Production Process:
There are three well-known processes of producing vinegar.
The Orleans Method
This is one of the older and slower methods of creating a high-quality vinegar. This method involves the fermentation of vinegar inside a container. The container has holes drilled into it to allow oxygen inside. These holes also contain screen filters which prevent insects and bugs from entering the cask which will disturb the production. Oxygen is necessary for the production of vinegar as the bacteria that turns the solution into vinegar requires oxygen. To create the vinegar, the alcoholic liquid is poured into the cask and then about 20% of fresh vinegar is poured into the cask to begin the fermentation process. Once the acetobacter bacteria oxidises the acetic acid the vinegar is now finished. There is a plug on the container to collect the finished vinegar, and also a tube to add more substances without destroying the film of vinegar bacteria.
The Trickling, Quick Process
As the Orleans method is a very slow process, many people tried to increase the production by implementing a new method. This method of producing vinegar involves spraying the alcoholic substrate in the top layer of the fermentation chamber where it is filled with materials that carry a slime made of acetic bacteria so that the bacteria could react with the substrate and create vinegar. Due to the heat that is made during the fermentation of vinegar, air is forced through the chamber to keep it cool. The vinegar is recirculated two-three times until the desired concentration of vinegar is achieved. Once the vinegar is achieved it is then collected from the collection chamber.
The Submerged Fermentation Method
This method is the newer, faster, and more efficient methods of producing vinegar. It is mainly used in industrial businesses where the needed equipment is present. In this method, a high-speed motor breaks down air that is brought down from a stainless steel tank into tiny bubbles and is forced into the solution of alcoholic liquid and the bacteria for even faster oxidisation. The final steps are filtration and pasteurisation of the vinegar to stop any more bacteria growth and enzyme actions.As this process usually takes one to two days to process so this method is mainly used by big industries.
Flow chart of vinegar production
The growing of acetobacters, the bacteria that creates vinegar, requires vigilance. In the Orleans Method, holes must be checked routinely to ensure that insects have not penetrated the netting. Workers routinely check the thermostats on the container. Because a loss of electricity could kill the acetobacters within seconds, many vinegar plants have backup systems to produce electrical power in the event of a blackout.
Vinegar production results in very little by-products or waste. In fact, the alcohol product is often the by-product of other processes such as winemaking and baker’s yeast.
Some sediment will result from the submerged fermentation method. This sediment is biodegradable and can be flushed down a drain for disposal.