Who knew vinegar has 1,001 uses? by Bob Karolevitz Borrowing a phrase from the late Rodney Dangerfield: �Vinegar gets no respect!�
That is, until Lawrence J. Diggs opened his International Vinegar Museum. In Roslyn (population 251, according to the state map), South Dakota, no less!
I�ve never visited that museum in Day County, but I�ve got it on my �things to do� list when it opens in June. I want to learn more about what the French call �sour wine. They named it �vinegar,� for vin (wine) and aigre (sour).
Phyllis has always kept a bottle of distilled white vinegar on the Lazy Susan in the kitchen, but I never knew what she used it for. Till now!
That�s when I read the book by Vicki Lasky which boasts 400 uses of the acidy stuff. Diggs, the Vinegar Man, has a book too; and so do lots of others.
One thing I learned right off the bat is that �sour wine� is a misnomer. There are more vinegars than you can shake a Heinz bottle at.
There�s apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, garlic vinegar, herbal vinegar, lavender vinegar, fruit-flavored vinegar and, I suppose, dozens more.
And speaking of rice vinegar, the Japanese � who have known about it for hundreds of years ��use it to eliminate fishy odors from their ichi ban diet; to prevent germs from growing on their raw fish; to tenderize meats in suki yaki; and for other adaptations in their national cuisine. They also have the Mitsukan Vinegar Museum there.
The Chinese have a vinegar museum, too. It�s located in Shanxi Province where there are more than 100 vinegar factories. (Good grief! Made-in-China vinegar is the next thing they�ll ship us.)
I learned that the tart liquid goes back thousands of years. There is evidence that the Egyptians had vinegar in 3000 B.C.
There are references to it in the Bible (although I couldn�t find them); Hippocrates prescribed it; Caesar�s soldiers drank a diluted solution of it; and it was used to treat scurvy in the Civil War.
No wonder Phyllis keeps a bottle of it around. She knows that vinegar has more than historical value.
Lasky�s tome says it�s good for colds (mixed with honey); it eliminates bad breath and whitens teeth; it�s an all-purpose cleansing agent and deodorant; it fights dandruff and athlete�s foot; it dissolves warts (they say); it vanishes stains; it does away with mineral deposits on bathroom taps; it relieves poison ivy itching; and there are endless uses for it in cooking.
Phyllis adds a spoonful of vinegar when she makes a chocolate cake. And she uses it in salad dressing, too. I never knew that!
Of course, now that I�m an expert on vinegar, I should tell her that a sprinkling of the undiluted liquid on window sills will chase ants away; and it also kills weeds growing up between the bricks on the patio.
Cats don�t like it either, so a little vinegar will keep them away from places you don�t want them. (You�ve got to be careful, though, about using the caustic stuff on furniture because it can stain the fabric.)
No wonder Lawrence Diggs attracts hundreds of people to his out-of-the-way museum. And as the result of my reading, I�ve got a new respect for vinegar, Rodney Dangerfield be danged.
As a matter of fact, I think I�ll try the apple cider vinegar recipe to relieve the pain of my arthritis. It can�t hurt � and it might help!
� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz