Most of us use vinegar in some way around our homes, but few of us probably know what it actually is - how it is made. I hadn't really thought about it much until recently when I started finding out that vinegar has so many uses. This, of course, made me curious and being the 'research' fanatic that I am, I started digging.
According to the Vinegar Institute (yes, there really is one!), this household treasure was discovered by accident. "The French said it succinctly: vin aigre - meaning sour wine. That is its origin, the discovery that a cask of wine gone past its time had turned to a wonderful new product." Today, as we all know, vinegar comes in many different forms: balsamic, rice wine, apple cider, malt, and so on. Simply stated, the different standards are the result of a two-fold fermentation process of different fruit sugars or grain sugars.
I wanted to know how distilled white vinegar is made because that is the one used most often for household chores, which is the focus of this particular post. In short, corn is distilled into corn alcohol which is then combined with water and nutrients and fermented into white distilled vinegar. During the fermentation process the nutrients change the natural corn alcohol into vinegar and once it is put through a multi-step filtering process it is ready to use.
Now, believe it or not, there are some concerns out there that not all distilled white vinegar is made from corn, but rather from petroleum. Not sure how, but if it can be done, you can be sure someone is doing it on the cheap. Be sure to read the label and that it clearly states it is made from corn. (Heinz is one that claims to be made from corn.)
After some thought, it began to occur to me that corn is the top genetically modified produce item along with soy. So I emailed Heinz and received the following reply:
Thank you for your email to share your concerns regarding GMO's. We're glad you took the time to contact us.
We at the H. J. Heinz Company have a primary responsibility to make sure all our products are safe and nutritious. We work with regulatory agencies around the world to ensure that food safety systems work, and that consumers are protected. Heinz has responded to concerns about GMO's throughout the world and will continue to be responsive to changes in consumer expectations as well as regulatory policy.
We seek to avoid ingredients from genetically modified sources. For example, in the case of tomatoes, we only use those bred utilizing traditional breeding technology. Additionally, we are working with non-tomato ingredient suppliers to understand the source of these ingredients and the future of the supply.
Heinz has been the "pure foods" company since its founding 130 years ago, and we remain committed to providing a range of trusted and delicious food varieties.
Was that a yes or a no? While is appears Heinz is moving in the right direction, there is no guarantee at the moment the product you purchase does not contain genetically modified ingredients. If you are going to be ingesting this by pickling, cooking, baking, whatever, I highly recommend purchasing an organic white distilled vinegar. Spectrum makes such a product as do a couple of other companies, but Spectrum's is certainly going to be the easiest to find. A 32 oz. bottle will run about $5 - 5.50. Not as cheap as the big gallon stuff on the bottom shelf of your grocery store, but you can ingest it with a lot more confidence.
I also have learned that it is a natural disinfectant. According to Naturally Healthy Home Cleaning Tips, they have documented that CBS did a special which stated "a straight 5% solution of vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of viruses". That's really amazing! Apparently salmonella only needs a 1% solution to be killed. When vinegar is combined with table salt or hydrogen peroxide, it can inhibit the growth of certain strains of e.coli. But keep in mind that further studies are needed as to what it will and will not battle when it comes to disinfecting.
NOTE: Do NOT mix with bleach! Toxic fumes can result.
Basic Counter Cleaner
(Do NOT use on marble)
Recipe #1: In a spray bottle, mix one part white vinegar with one part water.
Recipe #2: Add ¼ c. baking soda, ½ c. borax, ½ c. vinegar to 1 gal. water. Pour into spray bottles and keep handy under each sink in the house.
Photo Credit: Mimi K