Preparation: The juices of all saccharine fruits, as grapes, apples, pears, barley, etc., will readily undergo a process of fermentation in the presence of air, especially if they have been subjected to the action of a ferment-as yeast. If checked at a certain stage in the process, the clear, liquid product of the fermentation is vinegar–which consists of a small portion of acetic acid, and various vegetable matters peculiar to the article acted upon. The best vinegar is made in France, from wine, which is poured upon a little vinegar (called mother) and allowed to ferment till suitably sour—the temperature of the room being maintained at about 85E. The clear liquid is then racked off, more wine added to the "mother," and the process thus repeated indefinitely. In England, barley malt is fermented, and the wort made to fall in a shower upon a bed of birch twigs arranged near the top of a large vat. The liquid is pumped up and made to fall through these twigs several times. By thus spreading out the wort to the air, the alcohol it contains is oxidized rapidly; and the formation of vinegar consists only in this oxidization. In America, most of the vinegar of the people is made by fermenting cider in barrels with open bung-holes. The heat of the summer sun is sufficient to maintain the fermenting process; and the operation must be watched, so that the clear liquid may be racked off before it passes from the acetous into the putrefactive stage. Much of the vinegar at present sold in the shops, is diluted acetic acid. This preparation is by no means a substitute for vinegar, for it contains none of those vegetable substances which give to this article much of its flavor and excellence; and as common acetic acid is frequently contaminated with copper and sulphuric acid, the impropriety of offering such a compound in lieu of well-prepared vinegar, is at once apparent.
Vinegar has a pleasant acid, and somewhat aromatic smell and taste. Besides some four percent of acetic acid, it contains varying proportions of sugar, starch, gluten, and gum. An article carelessly manufactured may contain free sulphuric acid, which may be detected by boiling it with a solution of chloride of calcium, when a precipitate will be formed. If kept long exposed to the air, it becomes muddy, ropy and putrefactive, and loses its acidity.
Properties and Uses: Vinegar promotes the secretions of the kidneys and respiratory mucous membranes, but diminishes that of the skin. Added to sweetened water, it forms a pleasant drink in febrile and inflammatory cases where the condition of the stomach does not contraindicate a vegetable acid. It quenches thirst, and promotes the flow of saliva. Drank thus in considerable quantities, warm, the patient being well covered in bed, it promotes a favorable perspiration in autumnal intermittents. Its daily use, in moderate quantities, is of sovereign efficacy in scurvy; and in those loosenesses of the bowels and feverishnesses which often arise from scorbutic conditions. Its vapor may be inhaled to advantage in sore-throat; and it may be used as a gargle in putrid cynancheal affections. Externally, it is useful in cutaneous affections accompanied by dryness of the epidermis, as tetter, scald head, etc. From its mild stimulating character, it is often beneficial as a fomentation in sprains, bruises and pains in the bowels. It is an admirable menstruum for many agents—facilitating the action of stimulants that are for external application, and apparently augmenting and hastening the operation of expectorants. From a fluid drachm to half a fluid ounce is usually sufficient for any patient in twenty-four hours.
Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Gargle. Vinegar, two ounces; capsicum, ten grains; common salt, two drachms. This forms a stimulating and antiseptic gargle of rare excellence in putrid sore throat and diphtheria. It may be used every second hour or hour, as needed; and a flannel about the neck may be kept moistened with the same. It is also said to arrest vomiting in cholera, etc., and often to cure this malady. Various stimulants, astringents, and tonics are infused in vinegar for use as gargles, such as myrica, xanthoxylum, cornus, hydrastis, and sanguinaria.
II. In the preparation of some Tinctures, and Syrups, and of the Oxymels, vinegar is used in preference to alcohol or water. These will be mentioned in their proper places. All relaxants prepared on vinegar, are mostly restricted in their action to the respiratory passages and stomach. (§227, 263.)
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com