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Survey of Vinegar Recipes

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Scroll 8 in Qimin Yaoshu has twenty-three vinegar recipes in it.  I've now translated them all, and rather than posting them fully, I thought I'd offer a summary, and a few of them in particular.

I haven't (successfully, ahem) made any of these yet, and when I do I'll post separately about them, with the full recipe included.

Science and Civilisation in China notes that vinegar was a relatively late addition to Chinese cooking, replacing the use of Prunus mume (a kind of apricot) as a souring agent in the Spring and Autumn period (771-476 BCE).
Ingredients Most of these are millet vinegars, produced like a millet wine.  But they also don't all use yeast cakes.  Most are using what I'm translating as "wheat grains" (麥䴷), which are also called "yellow steam" (黃蒸).  To make this: 作黃蒸法:To Make Yellow Steam〈六、七月中,取生小麥,細磨之。 In the middle of the sixth or seventh months, take fresh wheat, and finely grind it. 以水溲而蒸之,氣餾好熟,便下之,攤令冷。 Soak it in water, and th…

Evidence in Funny Places

I'm working on the vinegar recipes in Qimin Yaoshu, and one of the recipes contains a line that offers some useful insight into the wine making business:


至十月中,如壓酒法,毛袋壓出,則貯之。 When it has become the tenth month, press it with a wool bag as if you were pressing wine, and then store it.
Seems like I've been on the right track using cheesecloth and nylon bags, although I would like to get a bag made from mohair or something like that eventually.