One of the most underrated vinegars is apple cider vinegar. It's not only good in dressings, but it's also great in cooking -- and not just marinades, by the way. If you boil it down, maybe with a little bit of actual apple juice, it's the most delicious glaze.
What should an apple cider vinegar taste like? Apples.
Normally you would not drink a vinegar straight, but this is the only way to know what the quality is.
How do you taste vinegar? You taste vinegar by taking some in your mouth and sucking a little air over it, just the way you would taste olive oil. You have to rinse your mouth and spit because otherwise you're going to be pickled.
I blind tasted six different apple cider vinegars. Producer Jennifer Russell poured each into a clear plastic cup and labeled it with a number. I smelled and tasted each vinegar, then selected my favorite.
Apple cider vinegar 1: Williams-Sonoma ($10.95, 375 mL)
This vinegar is tart, with some suggestion of apples. It's rather pleasant. It leaves a very dry, almost woody flavor. (Some vinegars are actually processed through wood chips, so this may be the reason why.)
Apple cider vinegar 2: Eden ($4.39, 473 mL)
This vinegar is a little on the cloudy side, leaning toward an apricot color.
It has a soft, appley quality that's quite appealing. It's rather delicate and not as acidic as No. 1.
Apple cider vinegar 3: Bragg ($4.89, 473 mL)
This one is a yellowish color with a touch of orange. It's cloudy.
For me, this vinegar doesn't have an apple in it, or I don't taste apple. It's there, probably -- it's a nice vinegar, but there's nothing distinctive about it for me.
Apple cider vinegar 4: Aspall ($3.39, 350 mL)
This is one of the clear ones. It almost reminds me of the color of a rosé, except it looks like a sunset.
It's very soft, not hit-you-over-the-head acidic, with a nice apple quality. This would be a lovely thing to dress delicate-flavored greens. I would sprinkle this over something like green beans that you've steamed or tomatoes.
It's really a nice vinegar. We're going to give No. 4 a gold star.
Apple cider vinegar 5: Katz ($3.69, 375 mL)
This is almost clear -- it's a very pale yellow.
There's sweetness to it. It's quite appley. It's also the most spoonable. I wonder what would happen if you boiled this down, and then you drizzled a little bit over a really creamy dessert or an apple pie?
This is a really nice vinegar, but it does have sweetness. If you want tart vinegar, this wouldn't be your baby. But I think it's a really nice one.
Apple cider vinegar 6: Heinz ($1.69, 473 mL)
This is the most clear; it's amber-colored.
It doesn't have a lot of flavor, but it does have a lot of acid. It has nice body, but it's not a favorite.
I think I have to give it to No. 4, Aspall's apple cider vinegar.
If you can't find the Aspall, my runner-up would be the Eden.
Go forth, make salad, baste pork and be happy.
While Muir Glen is an underwriting partner, neither their brand nor the brands of their parent company are involved in the reviewing process, and their employees have no editorial input or oversight on the results.
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