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Where does vinegar come from?

August 06, 2010|By LISA PREJEAN

When a friend shared her broccoli salad recipe with our family, my 11-year-old was intrigued. She loves to help in the kitchen, especially when she likes the taste of a dish.

This salad is one that both she and her 15-year-old brother like.

Lately my kids have asked for more salads, smoothies, fruits and vegetables. The kids are becoming more active in sports, and the healthful eating just seems to go hand-in-hand with increased activity and desired performance ... or at least it should.

Their performance at the table has increased as well. (If anyone figures out how to fill up a 15-year-old boy, let me know.)

Last week I ended up making a double batch of broccoli salad on Saturday and another double batch on Tuesday.

That's a lot of broccoli.

It's also a lot of bacon, shredded cheddar and mayo. So, this salad is not quite as healthful as the kids think, but it's a better choice than french fries.

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Say what you will. I'm just happy that we're headed in the right direction as far as our food choices are concerned.

So, there we were in the kitchen making the first double batch of broccoli salad. My daughter was reading the ingredient list out loud, and I was wondering why my head throbbed. Then I remembered that I hadn't had any caffeine since breakfast, and it was early evening. A cup of coffee was just what I needed to finish our kitchen tasks.

After getting the water and coffee ready, I turned on the pot. A little red light came on next to the word "Descale."

I looked at my husband and asked, "Um, honey, what does this mean?"

"You need to run some vinegar through the machine," he explained. "Do you have some vinegar?"

I started to say that I had just bought some for the broccoli salad, but I didn't have a chance to finish the thought.

About that time, my daughter came to the next ingredient on the recipe list - vinegar.

"Hey, there's vinegar in this salad. Do we use the same type to clean the coffee pot?" she asked.

We explained that, yes, we use white vinegar for both purposes.

"What is vinegar, and where does it come from?" she then asked.

My husband and I weren't sure. I thought it might come from a fruit. He thought it might come from a vine or a root. As it turns out, we weren't too far off, but we didn't know that yet.

We read the ingredient list on the bottle: "White distilled vinegar and water."

That was helpful.

"We'll have to look it up when we're finished making the salad, but in the meantime, I can tell you that vinegar has been around for a long time," I said. "When Jesus was on the cross, Roman soldiers offered him vinegar on a sponge after he said, 'I thirst.' "

As it turns out, traces of vinegar have been found in Egyptian urns dating to 3,000 B.C., according to an article posted on Wikipedia.

Vinegar is produced from the oxidation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria, based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. The ethanol used in this production can be derived from wine, cider, beer or fermented fruit juice.

This "vin aigre," French for "sour wine," is such a useful product. But then anyone who reads Heloise knows that.

Here's my friend's recipe. Enjoy!

Broccoli salad

For the dressing:

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup mayo

4 tablespoons white vinegar

4 cups broccoli

8 ounces cheddar cheese

1/2 pound bacon (See cook's note)

1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)

Mix dressing and let sit before pouring it on the rest to give sugar time to dissolve.

Prepare and clean broccoli. Mix broccoli, cheese, bacon and onion.

Serves 5. For big groups, double the recipe.

Cook's note: Precooked bacon (1 box) is quick if you are in a hurry. Cut and heat for about 30 seconds.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com .

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