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The next time you douse your fish and chips with vinegar, eat a pickled onion, or chomp your way through a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, you will remember this, so pay attention at the back of the class as I may be asking questions later.

Sarson’s started brewing malt vinegar two hundred or so years ago but actually they are only newcomers in an ages old product, which goes back into the mists of time.
Vinegar is probably the oldest man made product still in production today. It was discovered, quite by chance, more than 10,000 years ago. The French say it best – vinaigre – which means quite literally “sour wine”. It is easy to suppose that as a result of a happy accident all those years ago, a wonderful new product was launched into the world.

The principle of vinegar making remains unchanged, and is the fermentation of natural sugars into alcohol and then a secondary fermentation to vinegar. Over the years other materials have been introduced in the making of vinegar, and include: molasses, fruits and berries, melons, coconut, maple syrup, honey, beer, potatoes, malt, and grains of various sorts.

Not only is vinegar used to add flavour to fish and chips, it is also used in: salad dressings, ketchup, sauces, marinades, mustard, pickles, and many more. Next time you are shopping at the supermarket, take a look at the ingredient statement on your favourite products, 9 times out of 10, you will find vinegar on the list somewhere.

The primary use of vinegar is to preserve foodstuffs and prior to refrigeration and apart from salting, was just about all that our predecessors had. It is hardly surprising therefore, that other uses for this marvellous liquid were explored. The ancient Babylonians for example began flavouring it with herbs and used it as a condiment. Roman legionnaires, on the other hand, used vinegar as a beverage, and it is rumoured that Cleopatra demonstrated its unique solvent properties, by dissolving pearls in it, thus winning a wager that she could “consume a fortune in a single meal”.

It was Hippocrates who extolled its medicinal qualities and it was probably one of the earliest true remedies known to man. Even the Bible makes references to vinegar, telling how it was used for its soothing and healing properties. One of the lesser-known facts about vinegar is that when Hannibal crossed the Alps, he used vinegar to help pave the way. Any boulders that blocked his path were first heated, and then doused with vinegar. The boulders are reported to have cracked and crumbled, allowing Hannibal through amid cries of “smartarse.”

Even as recently as World War I, vinegar was being used to treat wounds, and even today it is still recommended for the treatment of rashes, bites and other minor ailments.

Studies have been carried out into the keeping qualities of vinegar. Amazingly the shelf life appears to be indefinite. This is because the acid nature of the product makes vinegar self-preserving and does not need refrigeration.

So much for the keeping and medicinal qualities of vinegar, but there are literally thousands and thousands of other uses for this amazing product. I suggest that you type the word “vinegar” into a search engine such as Google along with “medicinal” or “household uses” and you will be truly amazed at the results. A handful, taken at random are these:

•Take 1-tablespoon vinegar each hour or until diarrhoea subsides.
•First I'd like to thank you for your vinegar cure for toenail fungus; I will soon be able to wear flip-flops!
•Cure dandruff. Simply mix one tablespoons of vinegar into two pints of water, and rinse your hair with it.
•An equal mixture of salt and white vinegar will clean coffee and tea stains from china cups.
•To loosen hard-to-clean stains in glass, aluminium or porcelain pots or pans, boil 1/4-cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water. Wash in hot, soapy water.
•Spots on your stainless steel kitchen equipment can be removed by rubbing the spots with a cloth dampened with white vinegar.
•Soak normal food-stained pots and pans in full strength white vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse in hot, soapy water.
•Boil a teaspoon of white vinegar mixed in a cup of water to eliminate unpleasant cooking odours.
•When handling onions A little white vinegar rubbed on your fingers before and after slicing onions will remove the odour of onions quickly.
•To remove fruit stains from your hands, rub them with a little white vinegar and wipe with a cloth.
•Absorb odour of fresh paint by putting a small dish of white vinegar in the room.
•Dampen your cleaning rag in white vinegar and water and use it to wipe out your oven.
•If you get lime deposits in your kettle, gently boil 1/2-cup of white vinegar to a pot of water. Then rinse well.
•2 cups of white vinegar added to a tub of water will make a good rinse for both cotton and wool blankets - leaves them free of soap odour and their nap is soft and fluffy as new.
•Lightly rub white vinegar on fabric that has been slightly scorched. Wipe with a clean cloth.
•To get rid of stains left by deodorants and anti-perspirants on washables, lightly rub with white vinegar and then wash as usual.
•When you are colour dyeing, add about a cup full of white vinegar to the last rinse water to help set the colour.

There are literally thousands of fascinating tips using this amazing product, so remember this and all the history involved when you next see a bottle of Sarsons.

The reason that I have picked out Sarsons is that they have at least attempted to modernise the product. They charge 60-80p for a plastic 250ml “squeezable” bottle, which can be refilled, whereas other manufacturers sell in cumbersome glass bottles, which are a nightmare to “sprinkle”. In addition Sarsons are constantly extending their range to include light vinegars and a lemon flavoured variety. The fact that they are constantly reviewing their product is probably the main reason that they are still in business after 200 years. I wonder if ciao will be able to say the same?
So… Sarson's Vinegar.

It is mesmerising, it is mythical. The bottle stands proudly on the table, a sentinel guarding over you as you eat your food. A saviour, your saviour - ready to pounce on anyone or anything that might try to take away your dinner. You can imagine lasers flying out of its waist as flies buzz too close to your feeding zone. It is ever ready to watch over you. It can be a fatherly figure, too. For this is one of life's constant things. As sure as Tony from the Frosties adverts. An ever present fixture along life's tapestry. As is any vinegar!

But why choose Sarson's - aren't all vinegar the same? Oh no. Most certainly not. They all have a special taste that can only be detected by the purist. Sarson's is very vinegary. Very strong and very tangy. It is the condiment of the gods.

'Shake over your food to enjoy the distinctive tangy taste of Sarson's. Traditionally brewed and matured using only the finest natural ingredients.'

Your average bottle comes in 250ml and it is 5% acidity. It is made by Cross and Blackwell, whose parent company is Nestle (Christ, do they own everything?).

The bottles are like the genie bottles of old and the label is red and green. But when you rub the bottles, no genie appears asking you for three wishes. (Believe me, I have tried many times). But there is magic in those bottles, magical tastes that most genies could only hope to recapture…

But you don't just drink it as it is (unless you are mad). You may want to serve it as wine to annoying people at parties, of course, but the usual way is to put it on your food, most notable your chips (along with a sprinkling of salt).

Hope I have entertained as well as informed…

Thanks for reading.


Welcome to THE Sarson's Vinegar community.

Ever gone to use vinegar on your chips but would rather go without if its not Sarson's. Well then this community is for you.

Sarson's Vinegar Community is dedicated to those who love Sarson's Vinegar and no other cheap imitation vinegars.

So, got any tips on how else we can use Sarson's vinegar, let us know.
Or just want to tell us why you love it, just post an entry.


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