The aging process enriches the flavours of vinegar and softens it. During this process, with the help of controlled oxygen seeping through the pores of the wooden barrels, a series of reactions occur similar to those which happen during the ageing process of wine. These reactions provoke a series of changes in the colour, flavour and taste of the vinegar.
Through ageing vinegar takes on brownish shades of colour whilst the violet hue in fresh, red vinegar and the greenish hue in white vinegar are reduced and finally disappear. The aroma is strengthened and becomes more complex. With ageing the taste softens and becomes fuller and more bodied.
Vinegar & Health
The relationship between vinegar and health can be dated back to millennia. Vinegar has natural antibacterial qualities. The Ancient Egyptians used it as a therapy for otitis (ear infections), to disinfect wounds, against gangrene, and as an antidote to poisoning from mushrooms as described by Dioscorides.. The Jews (Ancient Hebrews) used it as an agent for soothing and cooling for the body and for that reason its use was prohibited during periods of atonement.
Hippocrates used it for a wide range of ailments. He prescribed ‘oxymeli’, a mixture of vinegar and honey, as a decongestant, as a breathing aid, for constipation, pneumonia and pleurisy. It was also prescribed for inflammations and swellings, ulcers and burns. Hippocrates also prescribed vinegar compresses for the dressing of wounds. ‘Oxymeli was also widely used by Galen.
The Romans used it as a therapeutic aid. Roman soldiers also carried a ‘posca’, which was diluted vinegar, with them. According to Christianity it was, in all probability, from the ‘posca’, that they gave Christ to drink as a pain reliever. This was the last drink He had before he gave up His spirit on the cross.
The Chinese used vinegar as an enhancement for herbal therapies. In modern Chinese medicine vinegar is used for hepatitis, breathing problems and for infectious diseases. A great deal of research has been done by official Chinese Institutions on these subjects and a similar trend applies to Japan and India. In Japan today, vinegar is highly esteemed and there are shops selling vinegar based products exclusively.
A large body of the latest research has justified many of the opinions based on the empirical evidence of former centuries. It has been proven that vinegar takes part in many metabolic processes in our bodies. Acetic acid, the main ingredient of vinegar plays an important role in releasing energy from fats and carbohydrates. It is also involved in the building up of fats, amino acids, haemoglobin. Acetic acid is transported through blood to the liver and the tissues and it undergoes full oxidization while releasing energy. Observations have shown that when foreign substances enter our bodies, acetic acid very often reacts with these foreign substances and neutralizes them. Vinegar, with an acidity level of at least 5%, is lethal for a large number of microorganisms. The use of vinegar in a diabetes type-2 sufferer is well documented and the use of vinegar has also been shown to act as a suppressive on disaccharitase resulting in a lowering of glucose concentration in the blood. It also raises the tolerance of diabetes type-2 sufferers to insulin and enhances the anti diabetes therapy. Finally, there are many therapeutic treatments in alternative medicine that use vinegar.