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VINEGAR: HISTORICAL AND PRACTICAL USES

3,000 years before barley is grown to make beer…
4,000 years before all of Mesopotamia is engulfed in a disastrous flood…
5,000 years before wheeled vehicles appear in Samaria or the Egyptians learn to plow…

…An enterprising householder prepares some fresh, naturally sweetened juice and seals it tightly in a stone jar. In a short time it ferments into the mildly intoxicating brew we now call wine. A very special day soon follows. The wine is left open to the air. A second fermentation takes place. Vinegar is created!
Imagine the surprise of the poor soul who took a sip of this new brew. All the alcohol in the wine had turned into a sharp tasting acid! Had a partially filled wine cask been unknowingly set aside and left unattended?
Had a servant carelessly left the wine uncorked? Or could it possibly be . . . did someone suspect the possibilities?
No one knows for sure how it chanced to happen, but vinegar entered the world. And the event was momentous! Vinegar was found to be an almost universal preservative and cure-all. Vegetables submerged in the wonderful liquid kept their fresh color and crispness. Fish remained edible long after they should have rotted. Festering sores, when doused with it, began to heal. It only followed that mankind would confer an exalted status to this amazing concoction.
Our word "vinegar" comes from the French "vinaigre"- "VIN" for wine and "AIGRE" for sour. And that is just what it is: wine that has gone sour.
As vinegar's virtues became known, its production spread throughout the world.
Vinegar's use can be chronicled down through the ages in many different times and cultures. It has been used for everyday cleaning and for specific medical ailments for at least 10,000 years. And sometimes, vinegar can be said to have actually changed the course of history. Some of the more intriguing vinegar uses, as well as some vinegar hints for today:
Was vinegar the world's first bulldozer? Without vinegar, Hannibal's march over the Alps to Rome may not have been possible! The chronicles of this historic march describe the essential role vinegar played in the task of getting Hannibal's elephants over the perilous mountain trails.
Frequently, the tortuous passage across the Alps was too narrow for the huge elephants. Hannibal's solution was for his soldiers to cut tree limbs and stack them around the boulders which blocked their way. Then the limbs were set afire. When the rocks were good and hot, vinegar was poured onto them.
This turned the stones soft and crumbly. The soldiers could then chip the rocks away, making a passage for both the troops and elephants.
You may not have an immediate need to relocate a boulder, (unless you are trying to build a house in the Virgin Islands!), but you may want to try some of these ways to ease cleaning chores:
***Renew old sponges by washing them in vinegar water, then soaking overnight in 1 qt. water with 1/4 cup vinegar added to it.
***Use vinegar to clean away mineral build-up on metal. Add 1/4 cup to a qt.of water for cleaning metal screens and aluminum furniture.
***Eyeglasses will clean up and be free of streaks when wiped down with water to which a splash of vinegar has been added. (Note: Rum works good too!)
***Clean and freshen the microwave by boiling vinegar water in it. Mix 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 cup water in a small bowl and heat for 5 min. This will remove lingering odors and soften baked on food splatters.
***Wipe down cutting boards with full strength vinegar. It will clean them, cut grease and absorb odors.
***A splash of vinegar added to rinse water will keep glasses from water spotting. It kills germs, too.
***Clean and freshen the garbage disposal by running a tray of ice cubes, with 1/2 cup vinegar poured over them, through it once per week.
***Make a brass and copper cleaner by combining equal parts of lemon juice and vinegar, Wipe it on a paper towel, then polish with a soft, dry cloth.
***Wipe all kitchen work surfaces down with full strength white vinegar to clean them and prevent mold.
***A little vinegar and salt added to the water you wash leafy green vegetables in will float out bugs and kill germs.
***Nail polish will go on smoother and stay on longer, if you clean your fingernails with white vinegar before applying the polish.
***Dissolve chewing gum and remove stuck on decals by saturating them with vinegar. If the vinegar is heated, it will work faster.
Lord Byron called vinegar "A sad, sour, sober beverage . . . " Well, puckery or not, vinegar's virtuous traits abound. Vinegar cleans by cutting grease. This makes it useful for melting away gummy buildup. It also inhibits mold growth, dissolves mineral accumulations, freshens the air, kills bacteria and slows its regrowth.
Editors' note: Kathie McCarthy is a local entrepreneur who has done everything from landscaping to catering. She has provided catering support recently to events ranging from the Rolex Regatta, Women's Laser Regatta, Blue Marlin Tournament and Marriot's Frenchman's Reef Match Race. She has provided bougainvillea to the Grand Palazzo (now Ritz-Carlton, Bluebeard's Castle, Sugar Bay, Stouffers, Sapphire and many other locations. McCarthy also holds a realtor's license.

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