5 Ways to Spice Up Meals with Vinegar

Takeaways:

  • Use vinegar to add flavor without adding calories
  • Fix wilted or discolored produce with a vinegar bath
  • Tenderize tough cuts of meat with a vinegar marinade

Adding vinegar to your repertoire of ingredients isn’t just an easy way to improve the flavor of your recipes; vinegar can also take the texture and presentation of your old favorites to the next culinary level. Try these recipes and tips with white distilled, apple cider, or rice wine vinegars then customize to your taste.

Vinaigrette Bar– Let guests make and mix their own salad dressing at your next dinner. Place bottles of vinegar and oil, together with salt, sugar, and a selection of freshly crushed dried herbs and spices in small bowls where guests will have easy access to them. Give each diner his or her own small bottle, jar, or bowl to blend a custom vinaigrette. Finish the salad and vinaigrette bar by putting out big bowls of salad greens, precut vegetables, and toppings.

Quick Pickles– Not all home pickles require canning or even heat to make. Easy as a salad to put together, quick pickles can be made when you wake up or just before you go to bed and be ready to serve for your next meal. They can be used as a condiment, served as a simple side dish, or eaten as a snack. Make this recipe your own by adding and substituting your favorite spices, vegetables, and vinegar.

Basic Quick Pickle Recipe:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Thinly sliced vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, etc.)
1/4 teaspoon herbs or spices (optional)
Mix vinegar, salt, sugar, and, if using, herbs and spices in an airtight container until sugar and salt dissolve; add vegetables; cover and let sit in refrigerator at least two hours before serving.

Custom Marinades- Include vinegar in your marinade to tenderize tough cuts of meat and brighten the flavor of dark meats such as chicken thighs, lamb, and duck. Mix one part vinegar with three parts flavorful liquid, this can be broth, or well salted water and can include a mix of herbs, spices, oil, and sauces. Place meat in an airtight container, a large freezer bag works will also work, with enough marinade to cover the meat and leave in refrigerator at least six hours. You can discard the marinade or boil it to create a sauce.

Popcorn Flavoring– When you’re looking to cut calories or just a little bored with the same old butter and salt try spraying, or dipping your plain popcorn in vinegar. Use vinegar alone or mix 4 parts vinegar to 1 part of your favorite sauce or seasoning, I recommend hot sauce or garlic, and add to popcorn. If you’re using a spray bottle, you can add an extra kick of flavor by shaking salt, pepper flakes, or ground herbs on right after you add the vinegar mix for a tasty and guilt-free alternative to butter.

Food Repair– Vinegar can be used to keep your produce bright and perky. The lettuce looked fine yesterday, but now it’s a little wilted? Give it a quick soak in a cold water and vinegar bath, about a ½ teaspoon for every cup of water, for recrisped greens. (Note: This will only work if the lettuce is a bit wilted; not rotting.) You can prepare the same cold water bath to preserve the color of foods like apples and potatoes that normally brown after cutting and peeling. Just fill a large bowl with the water vinegar solution and add the produce once it’s peeled and cut.