The history of using vinegars for culinary purposes dates back to 3000 BC. In countries with a tradition of wine, beer or cider making, vinegars have traditionally been an important part of their regional cuisine. In Poland the custom of using vinegar in cooking (except for food preservation purposes) was nowhere near as common as amongst our southern neighbours. Nevertheless, it is enough to delve into old Polish cookbooks from the 19th and early 20th centuries to see that fruit vinegars, including not only apple vinegar, were formerly known and used in Poland too.
Unfortunately, the years of the Polish People's Republic, with its dearth of culinary ingredients and lack of inspiring influences of world cuisine, left Poland with a vinegar legacy limited to the most basic, white spirit vinegar. Meanwhile, the wider culinary world came to recognise and appreciate the craft of vinegar masters in Modena, apple cider vinegar makers in the USA and France and niche fruit vinegar makers from Bordeaux to Vienna.
Fortunately, in recent years, with the greater openness of Polish chefs, both professional and amateur, to the flavours and dishes of other cuisines, with an abundance of exciting ingredients, vinegars are slowly beginning to be used not only for preserving food. Like elsewhere in the world, they are now increasingly to be found in marinades, in all kinds of vinaigrettes and salad dressings, used to deglaze a pan and so make a sauce for meat, in tangy gastriques, as well as simply drizzled directly over vegetables, fish or fruit.
In the product description of each of the 21 varieties of Octovnia’s vinegars you will find plenty of tips on how to use a given vinegar in your cooking. There you will also find the answers to questions about what flavours to pair with what vinegar, what to serve it with.
Straight from the bottle
Of course, the easiest way to serve a quality vinegar is simply to drizzle it directly over the dish. Be careful not to pour on the vinegar, in fact you might try a light spray to create a mere “mist” of vinegar. Vinegar served straight on a dish should only emphasize its taste, bring it alive. It should never dominate it.
Vinegar helps to tenderise meat. Each fruity flavour of Octovnia’s vinegar adds its own unique taste to the dish. You can simply replace any wine or apple vinegar in your favourite marinade recipe with an appropriately selected vinegar from our range. The basis of the classic marinade is vegetable oil and vinegar in equal proportions, seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs.
The most basic vinaigrette recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of a good, preferably cold pressed, vegetable oil (we suggest using oils with neutral flavours – e.g., rapeseed/canola, sunflower) to 3 tablespoons of your chosen Octovnia vinegar. A less calorific “lite” version can be made using a 50/50 oil-to-vinegar ratio. Before adding the oil to the vinegar, dissolve a pinch of salt and sugar in vinegar. Now add Dijon mustard and freshly ground pepper to taste. Finally, add herbs (suggestions of herbs that pair well with a given vinegar can be found in the description section of each of our products).
The simplest sauce is made by deglazing the frying pan, in which the meat has been fried. First remove any excessive amounts of fat and to the remains of the meat particles and juices left in the pan, add vinegar and a small amount of sugar. Reduce the sauce until it thickens naturally.
Sweet and sour reduction (gastrique)
Reduce 50 g of sugar and 50 ml of vinegar in a wide frying pan until the sauce thickens and caramelizes slightly. A simple gastrique can be served over savoury dishes. After it has cooled down, it can also be used to drizzle over ice creams, fruit and desserts.