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The Production of Vinegar from Honey   By:

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Transcriber's Note: In this etext, emphasis is represented as: bold italic ~ subscript


Vinegar from Honey.




Entered at Stationers' Hall.





Vinegar, or dilute acetic acid, is produced by a process of fermentation from certain vegetable substances. After alcoholic fermentation has taken place there follows, under suitable conditions, a further decomposition, by means of which the alcohol is converted into a more highly oxidized body, acetic acid, with water as a by product.[1]

These conditions require that the liquid shall contain alcohol, nitrogenous matter, and alkaline salts in certain proportions, and that it shall be in contact with the air, at a suitable temperature, for a sufficient length of time.

The researches of Pasteur showed the process of oxidation to be due to a microscopical fungus (mycoderma aceti), possessing the power of condensing oxygen and conveying it to the fermentable substance. This organism, which is a true bacterium, as the fermentation proceeds, forms a leathery membrane (slightly differing according to the substance fermenting) on the surface of the liquor, which constitutes the so called mother of vinegar, or vinegar plant.

The oxidation of alcohol into acetic acid can also be performed independently of the organic agent. Finely divided platinum, for instance, is capable of effecting disintegration of the alcohol, and of placing it in immediate contact with the oxygen of the atmosphere, thus accomplishing the acetification.

Vinegar, on the continent, is prepared from weak or sour wine, hence its name (~vin aigre.~) In this country it is, to a large extent, produced from an infusion of malt, but considerable quantities of inferior quality are made from sour beer, etc.

The vinegars thus produced, if properly purified, and providing no injurious adulterants are resorted to, are, for many purposes, almost all that can be desired; but for table use, for sauces and salads, where delicacy of flavour is appreciated, and for medicinal purposes where pureness and wholesomeness are essential, I venture to say that no vinegar can be compared with that produced from Honey.

~In the first place it possesses a delicious flavour and aroma, altogether lacking in the ordinary vinegar.~

Agreeableness of taste and smell are to a large extent dependent upon the substance from which the vinegar is manufactured, and it is impossible to supply these artificially.

That the malt vinegar manufactured in this country is conspicuously wanting in these qualities must be a matter of general experience.

Moreover, owing to its great cheapness, acetic acid distilled from wood (besides being employed for pickling and other purposes, for which it is well adapted), diluted and treated with volatile oils, is every year superseding to a larger extent the vinegars in general use. That this bears no comparison as regards the agreeable qualities, even with the ordinary vinegars, need scarcely be pointed out.

On the other hand, Honey, of all saccharine substances, containing as it does all the essentials for harmonious bouquet and flavour, is the one ~par excellence~, from which we might expect to produce an ideal vinegar. The result is found amply to justify the anticipation, and that its superiority in this respect will be duly appreciated by the connoisseur in salads and condiments goes without saying; but, indeed, so marked is this distinction that I venture to think it would be readily admitted by all who gave it a trial... Continue reading book >>

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