Sunday, November 20, 2011

What if? A better vinegar

Have you ever been busy doing what was in front of you to do when an idea struck? And you immediately knew that this idea was the answer to the problem in front of you? And for many other people with the same condition?

I was shadowing a physician in North Carolina. The patient at hand had a disease, and infection and a communicable illness all at the same time. And the infection was not responding to two weeks of oral antibiotics. The physician asked her what her favorite meal was and she answered "hot chitlings and vinegar."

And so I thought, this patient is not getting enough vitamin C, it shows in delayed healing and diminished immunoresponse. What if? I could make something in her daily intake fulfill the vitamin C she needs? Then I thought of vitamin C in vinegar.

My mind raced to think of other things that we use vinegar on. Fish and chips, not a rich source of vitamin C. Potato salad, most of the vitamin C is gone by the time the potatoes are boiled and processed into salad. Pickles, nope. Salad dressing, nada. Mustard is manufactured with vinegar, any vitamin C there? Not.

So I began shortly thereafter. The pills sold in stores, I found, are not crystallized vitamin C. They are the precipitated salt of vitamin C, thus called sodium acsorbate. And they did not dissolve well in vinegar, but precipitated out and left cloudiness in the bottom of the bottle.

Then I searched to find a supplier of pharmaceutical grade vitamin C crystals. Ah, this dissolved beautifully. And then I started using it in my daily life. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, so I called it in my mind antioxidant vinegar.

The minimum vitamin C intake to avoid scurvy is 45 mg per day. The upper intake suggested as 2000 mg per day. So there was a very wide range between too little and too much. I calculated it so that if a child got hold of a half-liter bottle of my anti-oxidant vinegar, they could drink the whole thing and be healthier than the day before.

Salad dressings were my first, substituting my high C vinegar for regular vinegar in Italian salad dressing. Then potato salad. Then later, some fresh pickles. What I noted with the fresh pickles is that they tasted--well, really fresh. The presence of the vitamin C had a subtle influence on the taste of vinegar. It no longer tasted sour, it tasted more tart. It also smelled less sour.

In the intervening four years, I have made and eaten 120 liters of this antioxidant vinegar. I have done experiments on all sorts of foods. It makes wonderful meat marinades. It keeps chicken breasts really clean and white, without the graying. The beef was also more tender. Potatoes in potato salads were creamy white, not greyed or darkly yellowed. All in all, I liked it a lot and filed for a patent on it in May.

Would you like to join me in giving it a name?

And tell me what types of vinegar you like best? Apple ? grain ? balsamic? Any other types of food you use vinegar with? Let's talk about vinegar.

Then I thought, What if?

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