Malt vinegar is a delicious condiment that takes pride of place in every fish and chip shop in the UK. That said, what is it, really, and how can you use it in your cooking? In this article, we’re going to take you through just that, as well as a couple of our favorite uses for the condiment.

white vinegar on wooden background

What is malt vinegar?

Malt vinegar is a great example of vinegar that is made from an alcoholic drink. There are others, of course, like red or white wine vinegar. In contrast, malt vinegar is made directly from ale!

‘Malt’ refers to a specific point in the manufacturing process. Whichever grain is being used for the ale, typically barley, is allowed to begin the germination process. Then, it is dried, mashed, ground, and made into beer. This is what the term ‘single malt’ means in whisky, for example, while a ‘double malt’ would involve barley that has malted once, had the germination process halted, and then allowed to malt again.

This malting process is used to give a great flavor to a number of different food and drink items, for example, beer, whisky, and milkshakes. In the example of malt vinegar, the malting occurs while the grain is being made into beer before it is turned into vinegar.

The process of turning beer into vinegar is, essentially, allowing for secondary fermentation to occur. Like the yeast in the beer ages and progress, it will process different compounds in the beer, and change the flavour. The resulting taste is one that is milder, sweeter, and more complex than plain white vinegar. White vinegar is simply acid and water and is more often used in pickling thanks to its simple, straightforward makeup.

How and when should you use this vinegar?

The classic time to use malt vinegar is when you’re stood at the seaside with a cone of chips in your hand. Of course, this isn’t particularly healthy, but it is delicious!

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, a good place to use malt vinegar is in salad dressings. To make a simple, delicious salad dressing, simple combine malt vinegar with olive oil and a few of your favourite fresh herbs. Muddle them together, mix thoroughly, and then toss through a salad.

Another great place to use malt vinegar could be in a marinade. The powerful flavour of high-quality malt vinegar is sure to permeate the meat or veg that you’re marinating, leading to a delicious meal. If you are marinating, perhaps combine the malt vinegar with flavour that opposes the rounded acidity, perhaps some sweetness in the form of brown sugar?

Malt vinegar is a delicious, easy to use, and hard to put down condiment. It’s a true staple of the fried food culture in the UK, and it definitely won’t be going anywhere any time soon. Perhaps it’s time to see this classic ingredient has a resurgence and gets used in a few new and exciting recipes? Have an experiment in your kitchen, and let us know what you find out!

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