Pouring Balsamic Vinegar Onto Fresh Vegetable Salad In Dish, Closeup

As it has nine different varieties for cooking, vinegar is one of the most versatile ingredients that can be used in a wide selection of recipes. (BigStock)

Vinegar (originating from vin aigre, French for “sour wine”) is rife with versatility. It can be used in all kinds of things—from food recipes to cleaning floors and other surfaces to personal hygiene. Here, of course, we’ll focus on the culinary angle.

Amid the pandemic, many people have been cooking much more at home. They’re learning new skills, and some people, like me, are even experimenting with different ingredients and recipes. A summer salad with a vinegar-based dressing that I found in my research ended up introducing me to more types of vinegar than I realized existed for culinary uses.

Distilled white vinegar. One of the most versatile of the vinegars, this one has an intense, sharp flavor. It’s commonly used in ketchup and for hard boiling eggs.

White wine vinegar. This one is made from fermented white wine and most often used in condiments such as salad dressings, sauces and marinades. It’s milder than the distilled white variety, making it pretty versatile.

Balsamic vinegar. In all of the information I’ve found from professional chefs and foodies, this is the one of the most popular types of vinegar for food—in particular, marinades and sauces, including topping off the popular caprese salad.

Champagne vinegar. This is one I hadn’t heard of, so obviously have never used. Made from fermented champagne (of course), it’s said to be tart and sweet; apparently it can add a unique flavor to pork and chicken.

Red wine vinegar. Salad dressings, sauces and marinades are common uses for this one, as well as for pickling vegetables. I’ve used this one numerous times in my cooking adventures for marinades and in my grandmother’s pasta sauce recipe.

Rice vinegar. This one offers a sweeter flavor to foods, namely in Asian recipes such as stir-fry and noodles.

Apple cider vinegar. This is another very popular variety, made from fermented apple juice. Vinaigrette dressings are common with this type of vinegar, as are meat-featuring recipes and some seafoods. Aside from foods, apple cider vinegar can be used to aid digestion and improve gut health.

Sherry vinegar. Traditionally a Spanish variety, it’s naturally fermented from sherry wine. Touting versatility, this type of vinegar can serve as a substitute for balsamic.

Malt vinegar. This is best for fish and chips… particularly the chips (fries) part, in my opinion. It’s also known to provide a unique flavor when pickling.

Collectively, all vinegars have been linked to controlling blood sugar types, increasing the good HDL cholesterol levels and even aiding in weight loss, according to Jessica Gavin, a culinary scientist/researcher and author of “Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking.”