National Vinegar Month is celebrated throughout May. A whole month to celebrate the tart liquid that is vinegar might seem excessive, but trust us when we say that 31 days is nowhere near enough to satisfactorily provide an ode to this fermented concoction. That’s probably why there’s another vinegar-centric celebration called National Vinegar Day, coming up later in the year. We can also bet there’s probably going to be a bottle of distilled white vinegar — the most common type of vinegar in the United States — in your pantry. Throughout this month, organizations, societies, and groups working with vinegar and associated products host activities and invite people to share in the vinegar love.
History of National Vinegar Month
In all likelihood, vinegar initially came from wine as is evident from its name. The name is derived from the old French term ‘vinaigre,’ which means ‘sour wine.’ As with the name, people still debate the period of origin for this liquid. We’ve seen Egyptian urns dating back to 3000 B.C. hold traces of vinegar, and Babylonian scrolls from approximately 5000 B.C. have mentioned vinegar-soaked foods traveling further and more easily than plain food. Vinegar also makes an appearance in the “Bible,” as the drink offered to Jesus Christ at his Crucifixion.
Of course, this old-timey vinegar would have tasted and looked much different from today’s clear liquid. The Babylonians made it from dates, figs, and even beer, and the Ancient Greeks always mixed their vinegar with other ingredients before drinking it. One thing stayed the same, however, the distinctive tart taste that this “poor man’s wine,” — as it was also called — left behind.
By the late Middle Ages, vinegar-making turned into a professional process in Europe. Most famous among these was the French city of Orléans, whose vinegar-making method became so well known that it became the best and most used among all methods in those times. And now, with easier access to and a better understanding of vinegar, people began to experiment with the liquid itself. Malt vinegar — initially called ‘alegar’ in its home country, England — developed, and the Italians gave us balsamic vinegar.
These processes, inventions, and growing popularity notwithstanding, vinegar production technology itself did not develop at an equally fast pace. The process only gained momentum in the 19th century, spurred by scientific advancements and industrialization. This was also when Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and microbiologist, proved vinegar fermented as a result of a natural and biological process, paving the way for more innovation in vinegar production.
Finally, by the 20th century, another revolutionary production change — a fermentation process that reduced vinegar production time to one to two days, spurred the mass (and cheap) production of vinegar. This tangy liquid was now available all over the world.
National Vinegar Month timeline
The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, prescribes it for multiple illnesses from an ear infection to a skin rash.
The English nursery rhyme “Jack and Jill” also talks about the medicinal aspect of vinegar in its second verse: Jack “went to bed and bound his head / With vinegar and brown paper.”
English poet Lord Byron is so scared of being fat that he embarks on a vinegar-rich diet.
Pop singer Katy Perry shares that she’s been drinking apple cider vinegar her entire life.
National Vinegar Month FAQs
How did they make vinegar in the old days?
Ancient recipes for vinegar mention its use as a beverage to quench thirst and state that it was sometimes mixed with water and honey, especially in Ancient Greece.
Which vinegar is good for health?
White vinegar and apple cider vinegar may have some health benefits, including weight management and antimicrobial control.
Why did Roman soldiers drink vinegar?
Drinking plain water — which wasn’t exactly sanitary in those times — was actually hazardous to health. It is likely that the Roman ‘posca,’ as the vinegar-based drink was called, could safely hydrate, and was tastier than regular water too.
National Vinegar Month Activities
Try out various kinds of vinegar
Did you know there are varieties of vinegar, and different ways to use them? If you haven’t heard of balsamic vinegar, beer or malt vinegar, rice vinegar, coconut vinegar, or red wine vinegar, how about finding out which stores sell these and giving one a try?
Make your own vinegar
Yep, you can even make vinegar at home! If you’re feeling up for a challenge, why not make some homemade vinegar with your chosen ingredients? Good recipes are easy to find. You can simply refer to a cooking website or recipe book to find ways to make this household staple from scratch.
Apart from its culinary uses — including cooking, preserving, pickling, being used as a dressing, and appearing in our favorite condiments (ketchup, mustard sauce, barbecue sauce, e.t.c.) — vinegar has plenty of other uses too. Browse the internet to find out about some of these uses.
5 Surprising Facts About Vinegar
Use it as a weed killer
Applying a vinegar solution to the weeds in your garden works better than chemical-based weed killers, and it’s a green solution too.
Use it as a foot soak
You can mix some vinegar and Listerine to make a foot soak that will give you smoother and softer feet.
Pet odor vanisher
Vinegar’s acidic nature neutralizes stinky odors your pets may accidentally produce or bring home with them, including urine smells and Eau-de-skunk.
Smells from your refrigerator are just as unavoidable as those from pets, but placing a vinegar-soaked paper towel or washcloth effectively eliminates the food odors in your fridge.
Add a little sugar and vinegar solution to cut flowers in a water-filled vase to make them last longer.
Why We Love National Vinegar Month
Vinegar is everywhere
No web crawling necessary. This ingredient is one of the most easily procured items in many countries. Your corner store is most certainly stocking a bottle or two of vinegar.
It's the best supporting star
Vinegar is the perfect complement to other, stronger flavors, appearing in salads, curries, and even teas. This condiment has long been famous for adding taste to different foods, so it's time we recognized this liquid for its superpowers.
It has a thousand uses
From cleaning to cooking to hair care, to being an insect repellent, vinegar can do it all! This super-versatile product is not only eco-friendly, but it’s also easy on the pocket.
National Vinegar Month dates