What's Fabulous: Tomato Vinegar
I was first introduced to tomato vinegar by Bob Levine, an American living in Paris who writes the charming blog, BobbyJayOnFood.com. Since my palate prefers wine vinegars to ones made from fruit vinegars -- and despite knowing that a tomato is a fruit -- I hadn't even known such a vinegar existed. But since I love anything tomato, I headed to Kalustyan's and there it was.
Tomato vinegar is made like any other vinegar -- tomato juice is fermented with a cultured yeast and aged for flavor. It's categorized as a fruit vinegar but like the tomatoes from which it's made, this vinegar is savory and has a scent that's similar to that of sun dried tomatoes.
Don't confuse it with tomato-flavored salad dressing or a tomato juice and wine vinegar combo that also appears in some specialty stores. Tomato vinegar is 100% vinegar.
Tomato vinegar has all the acidity and bite of a red wine vinegar but its mellow flavor and subtle tomato taste make it an appealing alternative when making marinades for beef or poultry, when giving a little sparkle to tomato sauce (it's a nice accent in pizza sauce), in salad dressings, to drizzle over a tomato-basil-mozzarella Caprese salad, when making your own ketchup or barbeque sauce, or to give a zip to a bloody Mary.
These three brands produce tomato vinegar:
- Mutti, a Parma-based company that produces tomato purées, juice, paste, and sauces.
- Gegenbauer, a German company that makes a more refined, aged tomato vinegar that is pale yellow in color.
- Acetoria, also German, and specialists in fruit vinegars, including tomato.
The two German products are more artisanal and more costly. My 500 ml bottle of Mutti tomato vinegar cost $5.99 at Kalustyan's.