I want my Umami.

There is no such thing as umami vinegar. Well, there is now. But you can’t make vinegar out of umami, and you probably can’t make umami out of vinegar, either. Now that we’ve dispensed with those caveats, we will make some umami vinegar.
Why would we want to make umami vinegar, you may ask. Well, I list it as an ingredient in some of my Sous Vide recipes, so it’s only fair that I explain what it is, and how to make it.

Sour, not bitter.

First, a word about vinegar. Vinegar is an acidic substance that is the result of the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. In other words, if a certain bacteria are introduced to wine, they will make vinegar. While there is debate about how many flavors there actually are, vinegar is the one that provides sour flavor to round out salty, sweet, bitter, and, well, umami. So you can have your vinegar and your umami too.

Savory, unlike some of my friends.

Umami is a little bit more difficult to describe than the other four very familiar flavors, but for the most part, the savory sensation occurs naturally in many different foods, in the form of glutamate. It is also synthesized, and, like salt, and sugar, you don’t want to consume TOO MUCH. In measured amounts, it is safe, just like pretty much everything. A lot of people have been very critical of its use, but we’re not running an organic co-op here, so, well, bear with me.

Why Again?

The pertinent question is, what does one use umami vinegar for? The answer is simple–anything that you would otherwise put vinegar in. Since it is acid, some fresh foods react to it. Green vegetables and fresh herbs, for example, will immediately turn black when exposed to vinegar, so, when I use it as a component of a salad dressing, I don’t put the vinegar in the oil like a lot of people do. I make dressing with all the usual suspects, garlic, herbs, oil, salt, pepper, etc. and then shake a little vinegar on top at the end. This also helps to control how much vinegar is making it into your salad, since vinegar sinks to the bottom of the oil. You see, vinegar is heavier than oil. Oil is THICKER than vinegar, but lighter. You’d be surprised how many professional cooks do not know this. Really. I mean it.

Umami Vinegar Ingredients:

Mix well, I keep it in a squirt bottle so I can splash it around at will.