Ode to My Pantry: Vinegar

Learning to feed yourself can be one of the most terrifying things. Am I about to give myself food poisoning? If I eat this too often will I end up with scurvy? How can I get the most nutritional bang for my buck? Why does this still taste like ass?

With Ode to My Pantry, learn to navigate a grocery store without having a meltdown in aisle three. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a queer to cook and stave off malnutrition for another semest

OdetoVinegarThere are a few things you probably shouldn’t do in your kitchen. One: Don’t run with pointy objects. Two: Don’t run on slippery objects. Three: Make sure your background noise doesn’t distract you from the task at hand. Because sometimes you listen to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me while you’re taking stock of your pantry and the only thing you accomplish is thinking in AABBA form. (In the future, Karl Kasell should hit me up instead of legendary anchorman Bill Kurtis. Or at least give me a sandwich.)

Making Vinegar
You start with a shitton of booze
Inoculate and wait while it brews
It will form a mother
Which leads to another
When she sinks, it’s ready to use

Apple Cider Vinegar
Make use of your old apple cores
By jarring in your cellar stores
The low acidity
Should prevent rancidity
If it works, give me a taste of yours

Malt Vinegar
First made using hop-free beer
It pours murky and brown, not clear
Brewed up by Brits
To douse fish and chips
But I prefer my acid more severe

White Wine Vinegar
Quelle surprise! It’s made from white wine
Just stomp grapes and let ’em decline
Don’t think I’m a nutter
But they taste like butter
As beurre blanc fodder it’s divine

Balsamic Vinegar
Mix with oil to dress up your salad
As a dressing, it’s totally valid
The real stuff is aged
While the new’s colour’s staged
But hey, your food won’t be pallid?

Rice Wine Vinegar
It’s great in a summery pickle
Salt and sugar, this brine isn’t fickle
Mild with a crunch
A great snack to munch
Dress your salad! Just needs a trickle

Red Vinegar
This condiment’s kind of a lie
It’s just regular rice wine and dye
But it’s a dip for wontons
Or juicy steamed buns
And I’ll add a splash to stirfry

Distilled White Vinegar
A spritz’ll make your house shine
Luckily this chemical’s benign
Clean and disinfect
A fridge left unchecked
Then use the leftovers for brine

Raspberry Vinegar (or Any Other Flavoured Vinegar for That Matter)
Keep some in your pantry’s tool kit
But when serving foodies, be sure to omit
Sure it is fruity
But they’ll become snooty
While asking, “What decade is it?

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Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

Kristen has written 139 articles for us.


  1. Thanks for all of these resources! Making my own vinegar is the next hurdle in my preservation/fermentation to-do list (preserved lemons and kimchi were both successful). I am slowly conquering my crippling fear of messing something up in the process and killing me or my girlfriend.
    Any vinegar making tips from anyone else who has done it successfully would be greatly appreciated!

    • !!! You made kimchi! I’ve been tempted to make it for the past few years but I have neither a crock nor a backyard to bury said crock in. How did you end up making it?

      • I referenced the David Chang Momofuku way and then spliced that with the recipe from the Tsukemono pickle book by Hisamatsu. I guess it’s more for cheaters (no burying in the back yard!), but the results were infinitely better than the kind from the store.

        I salted the nappa leaves and left them covered in a bowl in a cool place for several days, and then I wrung out the moisture, packed the leaves with the kimchi paste that I made, and then crammed it into sterilized mason jars. I stored them in my pantry for a two weeks until I got paranoid and put them in the fridge. I ate one of the jars after about a month, and the second jar that stayed unopened in the fridge for 2 months tasted better. All in all, it was dead simple and you should totally try it!

      • http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/easy-kimchi

        just be sure to use glass as your fermentation container. my tupperware is stained red and will forever smell like kimchi. i kept one on the counter to ferment faster so i could eat it sooner and on in the fridge to ferment more slowly. pretty sure you only need a crock buried in the backyard if you’re making kimchi to last the whole year/are a stickler for tradition.

        • Interesting. I go through gallons (when I manage to find them) sooo a “year’s worth of kimchi” doesn’t sound like too much

  2. Entirely in love with this post. Structure and content wise.

    Also I’ve never even thought about making vinegar. At all. Just one of those things that can’t quite be done. Then I remembered what happens when wine has sits too long.


  3. I love Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and this is the best thing I’ve read all morning.
    I’ve never thought about making my own vinegar, but we DO want to make Kimchi (minus the burrying in the ground part).

  4. I’m gonna try this at home. People might think I’m weird for having a strong “like” for vinegar but that doesn’t matter at this point.

  5. “Tassajara Cooking” has great hippie kimchi variations that are worth a look, and Gold Mine Natural Foods sells little pickle presses–basically Tupperware with a spring-loaded platform–to keep everything sub-brine. Not a must-have, but nice. If you ever get an at-bat on Wait Wait, I will officially lose my mind.

    • Yes! When Alton brown made sauerkraut he use a breadbox doodad to keep everything submerged. I’ve also heard you can use bags full of brine as weights.

  6. autostraddle i love you but the illustration of the vinegar shaker looks like the head of a penis. that’s all.
    hey i still love you though

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