"And Boza said unto her "At meal time come hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar"
(The Bible, Ruth, Chapter 2, Verse 14)
Cider Vinegar is one of the oldest documented foodstuffs, as the fermented vinegar from alcoholic cider. It has been made for centuries, initially by chance discovery, as a by-product by the Greeks and Romans, who knew it as 'sour wine'.
Its uses in cooking, drink, preserving and for medicinal reasons were widely known at this time. Hippocrates wrote of its medicinal properties and how to produce it, and these methods and uses have changed little over the centuries.
In France, around 1400, vinegar was produced by the newly named "Orleans Method". This was the deliberate introduction of air into the cider vats and barrels, but the science was not well understood until Lavoisier discovered in the 1700's that the fermentation required oxygen.
In 1865, Louis Pasteur showed that it was the bacteria in the vinegar in the presence of oxygen that caused the conversion of alcohol to acetic acid. Shortly after, vinegar was bottled for the first time.
In the 1900's, a new process called the submerged fermentation process was invented, which revolutionised vinegar production. The introduction of air into the vats accelerated fermentation and allowed the whole process of acetification to happen in one or two days instead of months or years.
This meant that vinegar could be produced cheaply and on a much larger scale all round the world. Today, most commercial vinegars are produced in this way.
Artisan vinegar producers, for obvious reasons, produce vinegars in much smaller quantities. Yorkshire Apple Cider Vinegar belongs to this group of vinegar producers, who prefer to adopt traditional methods of slow fermentation.
The absence of industrial interventions, such as pasteurisation, filtration and dilution is believed to result in a far superior product.