How, if at all, do you use vinegar when cooking? Do you ever use it in place of actual wine for instance?
I'm a vinegar scaredy cat looking to be both educated and enthused if possible.
While looking to answer this same question I came upon this information.
Vinegar Cooks use vinegar to make pickles, deglaze pans, marinate meats, and add tang to vinaigrettes, sauces, and even desserts. Vinegars are made by adding a bacteria called Acetobacter aceti to diluted wine, ale, or fermented fruits or grains. This creates acetic acid, which gives the liquid a sour flavor. Unopened, most vinegars will last for about two years in a cool, dark pantry. Once opened, vinegar should be used within three to six months.
here is a little more that i found that might be useful
To make basic vinaigrette salad dressing use 1 part white distilled vinegar to 4 parts oil.
Make creamy vinaigrette by adding some plain or whipped cream to a mixture of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 3 parts oil.
Tenderize meat with white distilled vinegar. Use it in marinades or when slow cooking any tough, inexpensive cuts of meat.
When poaching eggs, add a little white distilled vinegar to the water. The whites stay better formed.
For extra tenderness with boiling ribs or stew meat add a tablespoon of white distilled vinegar.
To add a zesty new taste to fresh fruits such as pears, cantaloupe, honeydew, or others, add a splash of rice or balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately to prevent the fruit from becoming mushy.
Freshen wilted vegetables by soaking them in cold water containing a spoonful or two of white distilled vinegar.
When boiling or steaming cauliflower, beets or other vegetables, add a teaspoon or two of white distilled vinegar to the water to help them keep their color. This will also improve their taste, and reduce gassy elements. This also works when cooking beans and bean dishes.
Make pasta less sticky and reduce some of its starch. Add just a dash of white distilled vinegar to the water as it cooks.
Give some extra zest to your white sauce by adding 1/2 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar.
Try cider or malt white distilled vinegar instead of ketchup with french fries—that’s how the British like to eat them. Either one is also great on fish or any fried or broiled meat.
Remove kitchen odors that come from burnt pots or when cooking certain foods by boiling a small amount of water with 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar so that the steam circulates throughout the room.
Make onion odors disappear from your hands by rubbing with white distilled vinegar.
Add moistness and taste to any chocolate cake—homemade or from a box—with a spoonful of white distilled vinegar.
To keep frosting from sugaring add a drop of white distilled vinegar. It will also help keep white frosting white and shiny.
Make perfect, fluffy meringue by adding a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for every 3 to 4 egg whites used.
Perk up any can of soup or sauce with a teaspoon of red or white wine vinegar.
Eliminate the greasy taste in food cooked in a deep fryer by adding a dash of white distilled vinegar.
If you’ve added too much salt to a recipe, add a spoonful of white distilled vinegar and sugar to try correcting the taste.
Keep molded gelatin desserts and salads from sagging or melting in the summer heat by adding a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for each box of gelatin used.
When making tuna salad add a dash of any herb-flavored white distilled vinegar.
Turn out great rice by adding a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar to the boiling water.
To make the perfect picnic potato salad dressing combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Olives or pimentos covered with white distilled vinegar can be kept almost indefinitely if refrigerated.
To keep eggs from cracking when boiling add a tablespoon or two of white distilled vinegar to water.
Hope this information might help
I have noticed that using white wine vinegar with alfredo, or creamy sauces adds a bit of kick if you add just a little bit during reduction, but otherwise I use it instead of salt on Fish, and sometimes poultry(if the recipe uses basil or other ingredients that might give the dish a "fresh" flavor"), but my favorite purpose for white wine vinegar is PICKLING!!! Add some cloves, peppercorns, and a bay leaf to a ziplock bag and add your desired fish in bite size pieces, and then add enough white wine vinegar to cover everything, and let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
I still have am having a hard time making up sauces that can utilize white wine vinegar though. It is a tough ingredient.
Sauce aigre-douce, sauce grand veneur, sauce lyonnaise, sauce poivrade, sauce ravigote are just some classics that come to mind.
Vinegars are a must in a kitchen. Flavor your own white vinegars! Just a few drops in hot or cold sauces make such a difference.
Here's my tarragon vinegar, elderflower vinegar, rose petal vinegar and purple basil vinegar. All made by macerating tarragon or flowers in white vinegar. Not in the picture but also incredible is vinegar made with lovage (strong celery taste).
No mayo or beurre blanc without tarragon vinegar. Elderflower and rose vinegar are stunning in couscous and different exotic dressings. Lovage in tomato sauces or meaty sauces like bolognaise etc. etc.
Make some flavored vinegar in small bottles, put a label on them and use the bottles as a gift to other foodies.
You can leave branches with leaves in the vinegar, flowers need to be removed after a maceration time of 1-2 weeks. By then they will have flavored and colored the vinegar.
Tarragon and lovage vinegar keeps forever with the stalks still in and the vinegar will get better after many years. When starting to use the bottles, remove the stalks first or they will go mushy when the bottle is halfway.
Picture above; Elderflower vinegar in the making.
Some excellent ChefTalk resources from the archives (use the search).