Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
The Fake Vinegar In British Fish and Chip Shops

The Fake Vinegar In British Fish and Chip Shops

This is non-brewed condiment. It’s water, ethanoic acid, plus a few colourings
and flavourings. And in almost the all the chip shops
up and down Britain, this is the “vinegar” you’ll get on the counter. And in the modern world, it has some advantages. It can be made from a concentrate, which is fine provided the owner of the chip shop actually remembers to dilute it. That went wrong a couple of times. It’s also halal, because there isn’t
the tiny amount of alcohol in it that brewing regular vinegar causes. And some brands of it are actually gluten-free, which regular malt vinegar
most definitely isn’t. I’ve seen this sold at a premium
as “gluten-free vinegar”. But none of those are the reason that it’s
caught on. There are claims that it started in
the temperance movement, the people who were against alcohol in the
late 19th and early 20th centuries, but I can’t find a reliable source for that — ha, “sauce” — I can’t find a reliable authority for that. The reason is,
chucking some chemicals together is significantly cheaper than
actually brewing vinegar. This stuff has been around for a long time, there’s a reference to it in a 100-year-old
report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Foods. Now legally, it can’t be described as vinegar. Trading Standards, the local government agencies
that enforce food laws, are really clear on that. It cannot be put in the traditional little
bottles that people associate with vinegar. Except: every chip shop, up and down the country,
doesn’t care. And Trading Standards… they could go into every chip shop in the
country and get an easy prosecution — but they don’t. They’ve got better things to do, like tracking down food that will actually
injure or harm you, and it’s not like they’d see any of the money
from fines anyway, that’s not how it works. And most people don’t know this isn’t vinegar. And those of us who do know…
actually don’t care. It’s not like margarine and butter, where the chemical make-up and health effects
are actually different, it’s just a slightly different taste and a
slightly different make up. But no one cares. No one minds.
Up and down the country, everyone agrees: it’s fine.
This is vinegar. So here’s my question: does it matter? [Translating these subtitles? Add your name here!]

100 comments on “The Fake Vinegar In British Fish and Chip Shops

  1. OMG, Tom! Have I been doing this all wrong? I put the condiment on the fish, not the potatoes… Does that make me weird? Actually over here, we use real malt vinegar.

  2. Honestly, it looks like vinegar, smells like vinegar, and tastes like vinegar. The chemical composition is barely different as well. Doesn't bother me at all.

  3. According to "Chemistry", volume 5, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1961, page 374, it's vinegar whether it's brewed or not … aqueous acetic acid … photographers use it as a stop bath when processing film or prints … not sure why anyone would put it on their French fries instead of ketchup … or am I just being an American? …

  4. Yes it does matter. It matters a lot. I am sure real aged vinegar has health benefits. I don't want artificial chemicals sprayed on my fried grease bombs.

  5. In a similar vein I discovered recently that I don't like real maple syrup on my pancakes and waffles. Like most Americans, I grew up eating them with commercial "pancake syrup", which is artificially vaguely-maple-flavored corn syrup (though I think the predominant flavor is actually vanilla). Now being an adult with money, I bought some real Canadian maple syrup to try, and while it's good, it's just not the same thing I grew up with.

  6. I'm going to say no. Tangy is an underrated flavor, pairs well with salty. Good for keto. I do wonder if out has carmel color in it. Known by the state of Cancer to cause California.

  7. According to a Sunday newspaper article I read as a youngster, it's actually petrol – or, if you are American, gasoline – well, largely the same ingredients – would probably either do serious damage to your petrol/gasoline tank or, if you drive one of those cars that won't go more than 20 mph without damaging the exhaust manifold, it would be like rocket fuel!

  8. Of cause it matters, just because dogs milk tastes better than cows milk doesnt mean i should not be told what i am consuming

  9. If that's the taste you like on your chips, then for as much as anyone cares it IS vinegar. In the US, we put ketchup on our fries. If you use mayonnaise, then you're probably Al-Qaeda.

  10. It matters to me! The authentic tang of vinegar isn't replicated with that coloured water they use in chip shops. For the best fish and chip condiment try pickling vinegar!

  11. That's why chip shop vinegar is piss water compared to pickled onion vinegar every sane person uses instead.

  12. Wait wait… it’s not a wine vinegar or a malt vinegar.. but white vinegar with malt flavor added. It is still vinegar. Just more cheaply made

  13. You loose the health benefits of consuming real vinegar. Though if you are routinely eating chips, you probably don't care about health any way.

  14. if they were to crack down it would be a easy fix

    we never said it was vinegar we asked if you want VINNEYgar which is a alternative name for synthetic vinegar

  15. You know what. I always thought the chippy vinegar tastes better than my stuff at home. Now I know why 😄

  16. I remember as a kid the chip shops had good strong vinegar
    It’s like piss now
    But you have to older to know what Britain was once like

  17. In short. Yes. It matters as much as we should be made aware of these things so we can make our own decisions, but apart from that, no not really.

  18. Caramel finds its way into every cheap version of brown liquid foods. Check your soy sauces and balsamic vinegars.

  19. Well it does now ! Thanks, now i know it's not vinegar.
    I next to never have chip shop vinegar if i'm taking my food home because the vinegar they put on does two or three things i don't like.
    Firstly & foremost, it cools my food down, i'm already losing heat whilst travelling home so i would rather wait until i am home before adding vinegar.
    Secondly it makes the food soggy, not surprising really, it's a water like substance being shaken all over your food which is trapped inside by paper wrapping or a box.
    Thirdly, & we have just touched on this in the second reason, the moisture from the vinegar will not only make the food soggy, it will also make the wrapping or box soggy which usually leads to your food becoming stuck, especially in boxes when the food is in direct contact with the box, fish batter is terrible for bonding to the box & unless you are prepared to scrape the soggy mess off the box, you lose the batter.

  20. So you're telling me that as an American, i'm having a better fish and chips experience since every shop has real malt vinegar? Because that's what i'm hearing.

  21. The vinigar in fish and chip shops is diluted from vinigar essence. Which is a strong acid that burns if not diluted with water, it also has a live culture which grows inside the diluted vinagar that looks like a jelly fish.

  22. I love the taste but i'm not happy about them mixing it on site. Your average chip shop worker can't spell vinegar. Ask the poor women who nearly had her stomach removed if it matters.

  23. Yes, it matters. Malt vinegar is readily available in the United States. Maybe when the UK gets free from the EU it will import it from the US.

  24. As an American I'm going to try vinegar on one steak fry. Not hopeful, more optimistic about trying European mayonnaise as a condiment.

  25. I have noticed it's not as sour as it used go be, it's like not even vinegar. Salt isnt salt either, probably dandruff

  26. I only came here to comment that one day things will get better and chip shops will sell the chips in yesterday's papers again.

  27. Cheap chip shop ‘vinegar’ is nicer than the proper vinegar you buy in supermarkets, like Sarsons. That stuff is too tangy.

  28. if you have ever copped a whiff of glacial acetic acid (99%iirc?) you will know why you dilute the concentrate!

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