Vinegars can be considered as acidic products of special importance for the enri- ment of our diet, and resulting from the desired or controlled oxidation of ethanol containing (liquid) substrates. The traditional use and integration of vinegars in numerous cultures can be traced back to ancient times. In fact, the cultural heritage of virtually every civilization includes one or more vinegars made by the souring action (of micro-organisms) following alcoholic fermentation. It has been do- mented that the Egyptians, Sumerians and Babylonians had experience and tech- cal knowledge in making vinegar from barley and any kind of fruit. Vinegar was very popular both in ancient Greece and Rome, where it was used in food prepa- tions and as remedy against a great number of diseases. In Asia, the first records about vinegar date back to the Zhou Dynasty (1027-221 BC) and probably China’s ancient rice wines may have originally been derived from fruit, for which (malted) rice was substituted later. The historical and geographical success of vinegars is mainly due to the low technology required for their production, and to the fact that several kinds of raw materials rich in sugars may easily be processed to give vinegar. In addition, vi- gars are well-known and accepted as safe and stable commodities that can be c- sumed as beverages, health drinks or added to food as preservatives or as flavo- ing agents.
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The importance of vinegars goes far beyond their merely economic aspect: they are in fact the result of environmental resources and culture, of tradition and science. The origin of vinegar is lost in the dawn of human history, together with the beginning of agriculture and the discovery of alcoholic fermentation of fruits, cereals and vegetables. This book, written by experts and scientists working in the field and enriched by several images and tables, clearly describes some of the main types of vinegar produced in the world in their peculiar aspects. In particular, vinegar technology and microbiology are dealt with extensively. The nomenclature of the microorganisms involved has been updated according to the current taxonomy.
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