As a recent college graduate, I have to admit that I’m not the best cook. I always wanted to learn, but between class and homework, convenience trumped creativity–and my patience. Coming home from class, work, or one of my endless meetings, I just wanted something fast and easy. Often, that meant I had to compromise on flavor. Sure, a can of tuna is quick, but not always the most satisfying in terms of taste. That was when I discovered my secret pantry weapon: vinegar. I’ve heard the rumors of how great vinegar is as an impromptu cleaning product, but it’s also a powerful flavor booster! Sprinkle some balsamic on fresh strawberries and bam! You’ve got a savory-sweet treat.
Don’t have salad dressing handy? Red wine vinegar with a touch of lemon juice tastes just as great as Paul Newman’s.
Fish, pasta, even chicken—they all taste better with a dash of acidic flavor! Another great thing I discovered about vinegar is that it can save you money. Yep, you heard right. I wasn’t only hungry in college, but also poor, so every nickel and dime was important. Have a recipe that calls for a ½ cup of buttermilk? Instead of buying a whole gallon of buttermilk, which is $3 that will mostly go to waste, use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with low-fat milk as a substitute. Vinegar can also be used as a substitute for salt, and works great as a quick marinade. Basically, vinegar has saved me many a bland and tasteless meal. My pantry just isn’t complete without it!