A Brief History of Vinegar around the World
Vinegar is as old as civilization itself. Throughout history, it has proven to be the most versatile of all products. Dictionaries define versatility as being “able to adapt and change with ease to new conditions” and for the past 10,000 years, people have accordingly used vinegar in many different ways.
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How the Ancients perceived Vinegar
Its history is as interesting and multifaceted as its uses. Legend has it that centuries ago people discovered vinegar by accident when a container of wine was left open for too long and the wine turned sour, presumably from exposure to oxygen due to improper storage.
The ancients quickly discovered its remarkable versatility. Traces of what is known as “poor man’s wine” a refreshing mixture of water and vinegar that was part of every meal) have been found in Egyptian hydria from 3000 BC. about. Babylonian papyri record the use of vinegar even earlier, around 5000 BC. and Roman legionaries often had it with them. The Bible notes that Roman soldiers offered vinegar to Christ at the Crucifixion.
How were the Babylonians using Vinegar?
The Babylonians used vinegar made from dates as both a preservative and seasoning and were the first to experiment with flavoring vinegar by adding herbs and spices. Many paintings discovered in Egyptian burial tombs from the 11th and 13th dynasties show people making vinegar. It almost certainly appeared at the same time as the first alcoholic beverages. Roman legionnaires used it as a drink. Cleopatra demonstrated its ability as a solvent by dissolving precious pearls in it to win a bet from Antony that she could consume a fortune in a single meal.
The Medicinal Properties of Vinegar according to Hippocrates
Hippocrates emphasized its medicinal properties and it was probably one of the first therapeutic substances of the time. The Greeks also made pickles with vegetables or meats with the help of vinegar. Biblical references show that it was widely used for its soothing and healing properties. And when Hannibal, the great general, crossed the Alps with an army of elephants, it was vinegar that helped pave the way. The blocks blocking him were heated and doused with vinegar and finally destroyed. Around 3,000 BC, homemade vinegar was gradually eliminated, and by 2,000 BC, vinegar production was largely commercial.
Vinegar in the Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, vinegar was used a lot, not only as a drink and condiment, but also for washing and treating many diseases such as plague, leprosy, fever, and snake bites. From the time of Charles VI, the vinegar distilling profession took the form of a company that was first registered on October 28, 1394, in Paris. In this association the “buffeteers” were incorporated in 1417, the statutes were completed in 1514 and they formed a trade organization under the official title “Makers of vinegar, mustard, sauces, and spirits of brandy, liqueur, and spirits”. “Workers had to be strong and healthy and wear clean clothes. Alchemists were interested in vinegar from very early on, and vinegar makers kept their manufacturing secrets well hidden.
Have you ever heard the Famous Story of the “Vinegar of the Four Thieves”?
This specific vinegar became known during the plague epidemic that hit Europe in the 17th century. Surprisingly, the robbers who robbed the sick and looted the corpses did not suffer from the disease. When they were captured, they were only released in exchange for the recipe for the vinegar they had doused themselves in before committing their crimes and which saved them from the plague. It was not until 1865 that Pasteur solved the mystery surrounding vinegar thanks to his scientific discoveries. His research on fermentation and the role of microscopic organisms revealed the process of oxidation. It is produced by a bacterium, acetobacter that was carried through the dust in the air. He thought it was a fungus. These bacteria transfer the oxygen in the air to the alcohol and turn it into acid. Then, gradually, during the fermentation process, bacteria grow on the surface to form a whitish substance called the “mother” of vinegar. When this substance accumulates at a certain point, the bacteria die and fall to the bottom of the container until all the alcohol is consumed.
American Civil War and World War I use of Vinegar
During the American Civil War, vinegar was used to treat scurvy, and as recently as World War I, it was used to treat wounds.