November 1st is National Vinegar Day in the U.S. There are many reasons to celebrate this often taken for granted ingredient: vinegar is essential to safely preserving many kinds of pickles, a must for most salad dressings, the secret behind chutneys and ketchups, and can even be used as an effective, non-toxic housecleaning product.
Although most food preservation sources say not to use homemade vinegar in pickling, the fact is that you can use it safely if you test its level of acidity first.
And whether you use herbs from your garden or the leftovers from that more-than-you-needed-for-the-recipe bunch from the store, herbal vinegars are an easy to make holiday gift (just be sure to make enough for your own use, too).
Happy National Vinegar Day!
Photo: ŠLeda Meredith