How to spot a natural vinegar?. I wrote this previous article because of the proliferation of synthetic vinegar.
My uncle was buying vinegar. The vinegar gallon was got empty. He thought the store was really got out of stock but one boy grabbed the gallon and told him to wait. This boy went to nearby deep well and filled the container with water. Then boy carried back the gallon to store and voila! The vinegar was coming out of the water container. This was a sure synthetic vinegar.
A friend of mine stopped by a sidewalk vendor who was selling vinegar in 1.5 L softdrink PET bottles. She was going to buy cause she taught it was a natural vinegar from sugar palm, kaong. She asked the vendor if the vinegar was pure, not adulterated with synthetic version. Vendor honestly replied that it was a mixture of natural and synthetic. My friend got disappointed and never bought any.
Telling weather the vinegar is synthetic or natural can be hard especially for branded products. Natural vinegar cloudiness disappears after few weeks or months of storage but what if the manufacturer is also producing the clear version. Identifying the difference is hard.
Vinegar can be obtained through the following processes:
1) destructive distillation of wood
2) oxidation of acetylene and water by air
3) oxidation of ethyl alcohol by aerobic bacteria, as in the production of vinegar
Natural vinegars are from method 1 and 3, method number 2 is obviously synthetic. Method 1 produces wood vinegar but not widely used for food applications due to methanol content.
Philippine Nuclear Research Institute developed the first test for adulteration of vinegar with synthetic glacial acetic acid, the carbon-14 analysis by liquid scintillation spectrometry. Out of 10 popular brands tested, 56% were adulterated. The extent of adulteration can also be determined.
I hope they can reveal which brands are adulterated and which are pure. This will be a great benefit to consumers.