Interesting Historical Uses For Vinegar
Some people say that there are two things that every culture eventually discovers. The first is music, because humans just seem to have some draw to drum beats and song. The second is alcohol, because when people try to keep fruit around for too long, the sugars are going to ferment and create the ancient equivalent of beer, wine, or something harder.
So once humans discovered that they enjoyed alcohol, they wanted to keep it around for a long as possible. Of course, you probably know what happens when you keep alcohol around for too long: vinegar. And even if they couldn’t get tipsy from the vinegar, most cultures took a taste of of it and said “yeah, we can work with this.”
It’s a good thing they did, because vinegar actually ended up being beneficial throughout human history for many reasons. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the historical uses of vinegar, many of which are still used today. Let’s take a look.
Use It To Pickle
One of the most ancient uses of vinegar is still one of the most common today: pickling. The Egyptians from thousands of years ago would have had times of feast and famine from season to season and from year to year, and while grain stored in a dry place might last a long time, fruits and vegetables would end up rotting if the decomposition process wasn’t arrested by a pickling agent such as vinegar. Using vinegar as a preservative continued in the Middle East and was also discovered not long after (historically speaking) in the Far East.
Vinegar As A Condiment
Here’s another wonderful use for vinegar that’s still a part of many people’s daily lives. As far removed as it is from its sugary origins, the sharp and sour taste of vinegar makes it wonderful savory condiment. In fact, it’s even mentioned in the Bible as a condiment in the book of Ruth, where Boaz invites Ruth to have some bread and dip it in wine vinegar. That’s certainly something we can get behind! Vinegar is actually mentioned eight more times in the Bible, but this is the only verse in which it is specifically referred to as a condiment.
As An Antiseptic
Vinegar has long been used as an antiseptic, and considering the acidity of it it’s pretty obvious why. The acid in vinegar is acetic acid, and this acid is at a concentration of between 5-percent and 20-percent. This acid can break down the fats and proteins that are found in bacteria, meaning that they are less likely to infect a wound. For much of human history, vinegar was the most reliable way to get this concentration of acid, and it was used in homes and on the battlefield as a way of preventing infection.
Some people still advise using vinegar on wounds, and while it might be your best bet if you’re stuck in the middle of the woods (and have vinegar for some reason), modern medical salves are more hygienic. If you have questions about why you should or shouldn’t use vinegar on a wound (or should or shouldn’t use something like Neosporin), contact your doctor.
As A Cleaning Agent
For the same reason that people often used vinegar on wounds, they would also use it to clean their homes. It probably started when people noticed how easily mold can be removed with some vinegar, and its usefulness was extrapolated so that it became a common practice. Vinegar was largely replaced as a cleaning agent by bleach, which truly does kill pathogens more efficiently. But while it’s a good idea to use bleach to clean up that raw chicken on the counter, many people still turn to vinegar to clean the refrigerator to prevent the bleach from being too close to food.
As A Medicine
Vinegar has been prescribed as a health agent for thousands of years. Hippocrates, perhaps the most famous doctor in history, prescribed apple cider vinegar and honey solutions as a tonic for coughs. In fact, cider vinegar has been used to promote health for thousands of years, and while we certainly can’t claim it as a medicine, we can point to people who have touted its benefits throughout history.
As An Energy Drink
Hippocrates thought of vinegar as a medicine, but vinegar eventually became a mainstream drink that people imbibed every day. Roman soldiers would drink posca daily, as would the common folk of the time. This drink was made from diluted vinegar and flavored with herbs or other flavorings such as honey and coriander seeds.
Posca played a very important part in the lives of the people of ancient Greece and Rome and offered numerous advantages. First of all, it gave them calories that many of them were lacking. Second, the vinegar in use at the time had vitamin C, which helped prevent scurvy. But perhaps the most important health benefit it provided is that it was safer to drink than the water. Because posca was vinegar-based and therefore acidic, the acid would kill many pathogens in the water. Unfortunately, no authentic recipes for posca exist today.
As you can see, vinegar has played an important part in health throughout history. But it can also play an important part of your life. We offer many products made from vinegar and other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for a variety of ailments. Looking for the best way to detox your liver? Try our Liver Complete. Want to try something new that helps get rid of kidney stones? Check out our Kidney Complete. Need urinary tract infection relief? That’s our urinary tract liquid.*
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* The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The Food & Drug Administration evaluates foods and drugs, and does not regulate or evaluate natural supplements. These products are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any particular disease per FDA guidelines.