Science experiments and home remedies, a cooking staple and a sour smell. Today we’re talking about and celebrating one of the mysteries of the kitchen that seems as at home under the sink as it does in the pantry: Vinegar. With so many uses, benefits, and recipes, it’s no wonder why the whole country will be celebrating National Vinegar Day on November 1. If someone asked you what vinegar is, could you explain it? This typically falls under the umbrella of information we file away in the “things we say we know but hope no one will ask about” folder, along with how pineapples grow and how magnets work. In short, vinegar is made by fermenting something passed the point of an alcoholic drink until it’s acidic. This is why we have different kinds of vinegars, just as we have different kinds of wines and liqueurs. So get ready to try something new and learn more about this complex concoction we rarely think twice about.
National Vinegar Day Activities
1. Try it for the health benefits
There are several home remedies for common ailments that use the power of vinegar. If you’ve been putting off trying these, or haven’t even heard of them, give it a go today. One of the most common is using apple cider vinegar to improve gut health and acid reflux. Be careful though — always dilute the vinegar in water to make it easier to drink, and use a straw to avoid direct contact with your teeth.
2. Spend a day doing experiments
What better way to get kids interested in science than promising exploding volcanoes, soaring rockets, and fire. Vinegar’s unique chemical properties mean fun — and safe — experiments that will have your kids wanting to learn more about chemical reactions.
3. Have a holiday cleaning
Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, so get a jump on cleaning the house with a few tried and true vinegar cleaning mixes. Mix it with lemon for a powerful and natural bath and shower cleaner, or use it straight to brighten coffee cups. It can also be a lifesaver for getting tough stains out of your favorite fabrics.
Why We Love National Vinegar Day
A. The earliest preservative
As far back as 5,000 BC, the Babylonians were believed to have fermented palm dates to create both palm wine and palm vinegar. We can assume what they did with the wine, but it’s what they did with the vinegar that’s more interesting. This was most likely the first instance of pickling to preserve foods to eat at a later time. 7,000 years later, this is still one of vinegar’s most useful properties.
B. A culinary cure-all
Vinegar’s unique taste and properties interact in great ways with common ingredients. Specifically, vinegar can kick up a dish that’s lacking spunk, or save one that’s maybe a bit too spicy for people. It only takes a few dashes though to make the food chemicals react, though, so be careful. Otherwise, you may end up eating salt and vinegar flavored everything.
C. A super science experiment component
Beyond the standard volcano, vinegar can play a powerful role in teaching kids about the basics of chemistry. There are several experiments that can show how CO2 interacts with fire, what vinegar can do to an egg, and how to build your own battery.