The history of vinegar, and its uses, goes back thousands of years with traces being found in Egyptian urns from around 3000 B.C. The name vinegar derives from the French vinaigre, meaning sour wine, and gives an indication of how vinegar is traditionally made.
In a two step process sugars are initially fermented by yeast to produce alcohol (ethanol) and other compounds. The second step involves further oxidation of the ethanol to ethanoic acid (acetic acid), the compound which gives vinegar its sour taste. The precise amount of acetic acid which is required for a substance to be defined as vinegar varies, but is generally in the range 4 – 8 % (V/V), or 40-80 gdm-3 (i.e. 40 – 80 g of acetic acid in 1000cm3 of vinegar).
Fyling Hall’s Year 12 having been putting this to the test, by performing a titration procedure on a range of vinegars – we await the results. The history of vinegar lives on!
Dr Ian Richardson, Head of Chemistry