Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Tall, Cold, Glass of...Vinegar?

Hong Cho - H-mart (Came with a FREE reusable bottle!)
I love vinegar! In my early 20's I had intense stress-related stomach issues that put me out of commission for several months, and the cure? Vinegar! (And less stress. I love vinegar, but let's not be click-bait-y. It's not a cure all!) 
It's popular to use vinegar for pickling, sauces, and dressings, but I straight up drink it! I'm sure that sounds weird to most people, but I'm not alone! 
About 2 years ago I went to the Summer Fancy Food Show for the first time and in the Korean aisle I found tiny little juice boxes with a picture of an apple on it. I picked one up, and booth's representative quickly warned me that it was vinegar, not juice. I guess other non-vinegar loving people had tried it and had a poor reaction, little did he know I was totally on board! I took a sip, and fell in love! It was like Panera's Fuji Apple vinaigrette, but in juice-box form! 
I really wanted to find more of these vinegar juice boxes, so I started checking the beverage aisles of H-Mart and the Asian Food Market. Sadly, there were no boxes to be had, but I did find large bottles of concentrated drinking vinegar! I was hesitant to commit to a large bottle, since I wasn't sure if I would like it or not, but this value pack deal at H-Mart won me over. So, let's see if this big bottle is as good as the little juice boxes I remember. 
Everything about this packaging is impressively convenient and functional. The plastic bag exterior has an easy to carry handle at the top, instructions on the back, and recommended ratios of vinegar concentrate to water for different levels of intensity. The bag is a bit beat up, with some glue residue, crinkles, and markings on it, but I won't hold that against it. After all, Korean goods have a long way to travel before they end up here in NJ...Or do they? According to the back of the bottle, this is a product of Korea distributed by Daesang America, Inc, from...Hackensack, NJ?! That explains all the easy to read English. 
When I opened up the plastic bag, the reusable bottle inside looked really nice, but it smelled extra plastic-y. I'm going to wash the bottle a few times and air-out the cozy to see if that helps. The larger, vinegar filled, bottle was in great condition. All of the same easy to read English instructions are on the backside of the label, the cap has grooves on it making it easy to grip and open, and it's made of a dark wine-colored transparent plastic.   
I opened up the vinegar bottle and took a sniff. To a vinegar-lover like me, it smells heavenly. It's as if blueberry pie filling was turned into a tangy vinaigrette. There are deep, sweet, blueberry notes, along with a rich, molasses-like, aged vinegar. However, for those of you not-so-keen on vinegar, it's safe to say that this is going to smell like fruity salad dressing...because it kind of is. Not only can this be diluted for drink-ability, but it can be used as a salad dressing or this isn't a truly new product, it's just packaged in a way that recommends a different way to consume it. I'm sure the general public would welcome something like this being drizzled on their salad, but poured into a glass for drinking might ruffle a few feathers, so it's nice for the packaging to be like, "Hey! It's okay to drink this!"
Like I mentioned earlier, this is a concentrate. So you're meant to mix some of this with water to make it more palpable.

For reviewing purposes, I went with the Best Taste ratio, which is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. I mixed it up in my kitchen and even though it was diluted with 3 parts water, the drink was still an intense blueberry juice-color. It smells lighter, and less tangy, after adding the water, but the blueberry fruitiness and slight tang of vinegar are still present. 
Side note: Can we all admit that paper straws are cute and Instagram-y, but totally suck when it comes to functionality? I have them in the kitchen and even though they make for great photos, that are sad, soggy, cardboard-tasting tubes when my drinks near their end. 
I took a sip, and at first you're hit with the slightly sour tanginess of a balsamic vinegar, but it's harsh profile is lightened by the deep blueberry notes and fruity finish. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's fruity vinegar, and it tastes like fruity vinegar. I think the general public wouldn't dig this, but I do! 
Even though I like it a lot, I wouldn't mix up a glass this large again. When I finished this tall glass I started to feel like I was having a bit of heartburn, and I found that the blueberry flavoring lingered long after the drink was finished. Since then I've been mixing it up in smaller, juice-sized, glasses, and it made for a much more enjoyable experience. It's great after large meals, or when you stomach needs a bit of settling, but even when it's diluted, the flavoring is rather intense.  
Drinking vinegar isn't for everyone, but I really like it, and I do recommend giving it a try. (Especially if you have digestive or stomach related problems.) Plus, this does have other uses! I could see this being a really refreshing salad dressing for fruity spring salads, or a great glaze/marinade for pork dishes, or even a little something to add some zing to baked goods and pie fillings. If you happen to give this a try, or anything like it, let me know what you think in the comments! (I know I'm not the only vinegar-obsessed foodie out there!)
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  1. I sometimes have digestive/ stomach issues. I will have to try drinking vinegar, and i will have to check my Asian grocery stores and see if I can find something similar (I am interested in the idea of an apple flavor).

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