What Is Malt Vinegar?

Apr 6, 2012 3:01 pm

Malt vinegar: a British condiment worth its salt

malt vinegar
Photo: jamesomalley on Flickr
The use of vinegar in fish and chips is as old as the dish itself.

If you've ever been to a place with fish and chips on the menu, malt vinegar is a good condiment to know and love. Malt is the term for germinated and dried grains of barley, used in adding a rich, nutty, toasty flavor to some of our very favorite things. Like beer. And milkshakes. And the vinegar we copiously shake onto fish and chips (which is made with beer batter and therefore also contains malt). 

What's really great about malt vinegar is that it's made directly from ale, just like red wine vinegar is made from wine. When the booze is ready, it's fermented until it's vinegar. The result is a milder, sweeter and more complex flavor range than plain white vinegar, which is just acid and water. 

Besides being a versatile condiment in the British fried food world, malt vinegar makes a great gastrique or simple salad dressing mixed with olive oil and fresh herbs.

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