Vinegar is, essentially, fermented fruit, though it can be made from anything containing sugar. "Typical retail varieties of vinegar include white distilled, cider, wine (white and red), rice, balsamic, malt, and sugar cane. Other, more specialized types include banana, pineapple, raspberry, flavored, and seasoned (e.g., garlic, tarragon)."
"I can pickle that!" you say. Well, not so fast: "If you attempt to make vinegar at home, we are sure you'll develop an appreciation for the difficulty of this ancient art and science. Be careful. While homemade vinegar can be good for dressing salads and general-purpose usage, its acidity may not be adequate for safe use in pickling and canning. Unless you are certain the acidity is at least four percent, don't pickle or can with it."
Recently my mother mentioned "Mother" in vinegar, which is actually cellulose produced by the vinegar bacteria itself. Pasteurization usually gets rid of this stringy substance, though its presence doesn't mean that the vinegar is spoiled.
Vinegar has a variety of non-food uses, such as a cleaner (one of my favorites, actually) and as a weed killer.
A 1950s haircare guide suggests rinsing hair in a vinegar solution to truly get rid of the old product (and it works!)
Vinegar can dissolve pearls. Pliny the Elder wrote that Cleopatra made a bet with her lover -- the Roman leader Marc Antony -- that she could spend 10 million sesterces on one meal. She dropped a pearl earring in a vessel of vinegar, and when it dissolved allegedly drank it. (Cleopatra, the original 1%).
We are all familiar with what happens when you combine vinegar and baking soda - a volcano! (and in this case, the world's largest!)
Though I am not a fan of vinegar and avoid it (unless cleaning!) there are some strange ways to consume the stuff out there, such as Lemon Vinegar Kit Kats as well as Vinegar cocktails!
The idea for this Dietribe came from reading a great article I linked to this weekend about vinegar's relation to the Victorian fainting couch. Furthermore, it seems that ladies of the time would dabble it into jeweled containers to make their progression through the smelly streets of town more pleasant.
For those who do enjoy it, it seems that vinegar sales are somewhat seasonal, with a peak in the summer months and a secondary peak in April most likely due to the Easter holiday and the use of vinegar in dying Easter eggs. Vinegar can also make for rubber eggs, plastic milk, and a rubber chicken bone (it's science gone mad!)