It is our opinion that adulterated liquors ot every description are manufactured and sold in great quantities in our city. Out of a hogshead of whiskey, nine or ten different liquors are made and palmed off for the real' Simon Pure. We believe it is the same with other liquids besides those containing alcohol. Vinegar, for example. Are we sure that all the vinegar sold in our city is genuine ? No, we are not. The majority of people do not know how to judge of good acetic acid, they are perfectly satisfied if what they get lor it is perfectly sour in taste and has the yellow color ot the excellent old cider vinegar, that is made by our farmers. It is easy to make a cheap spurious article, and no doubt hundreds of people daily use a mixture of vitriol, water, 'c., in the firm belief that it is real vinegar, because they have purchased a liquid of that name. The manufacture of spurious vinegar is an old story, we have heard an old soldier who fought on the frontiers during the last war, state, that the troops were often served with vitriol and . water for vinegar while at Oswego, and their health was affected by it, until he discovered the imposition, and where it was manufactured—a few miles distant in the woods. Where there is no cencorship exercised over the manufacture ofsuch liquors or liquids, there is great room for evil doers to do acts ot the greatest enormity—we consider that the adulteration of any article of food or drink is almost venial crime. In London there is an analytical sanitary commission of eminent chemists and doctors, appointed to analyze the articles which are dail y used by the people and sold wholesale and retail They report the names of those whose articles are adulterated, who are amenable to law, and those whose articles are pure. The late report of the committee states, with regard to vinegar and its adulterations, that out of 28 samples purchased at the houses of various retailers in different parts of the city, and the productions of almost. every maker of any note by whom the entire metropolis and its suburbs are supplied, only tour out of the above number were free from sulphuric acid or oil of vitriol; that twenty-four were adulterated with that powerful and corrosive mineral acid; that two contained it in a small quantity only ; that in three it was present in considerable amount; that 12 contained it in very considerable amount; and that in seven it was present in immense quantity. The report then publishes, as usual, the names of the parties selling and the makers of the adulterated articles, together with the names of the makers (unfortunately only four) and venders of the pure article. The fact of the vinegars of these four makers being found to be entirely free from sulphuric acid or oil of vitriol is regarded as most important, inasmuch as it proves most convincingly that the use of that highly objectionable acid, even in small quantities, is not necessary to insure the preservation of vinegar, and shows that its addition is made rather for the purpose of increasing its apparent strength. The report concludes by publishing a letter from Mr. Fletcher, surgeon, of Bromsgrove, showing how families might manufacture for themselves, by a very simple process, sufficient viftegar for the table, or for the purpose of pickling, by using sugar, treacle, and water, and a fungus known as the vinegar plant, and thus make themselves independent of dishonest manufacturers. Every American family knows how to make vinegar; it is therefore needless tor us to tell how this can !>e done; but at the same time, we must say, that there are so many families in cities like New York, who have not the conveniences to make it, and it is so much easier to buy than to make it, that there should not be the least necessity for doing so, and there need not, if things were well man aged. We should have an analytical sanitary commission in this city, to examine both solids and liquids, so as to have only pure articles sold, and those punished who sell adulterated articles. Now what would our Common Council say to the appointment ot such a commission ? We believe if such a commission was appointed, a great amount of good would be accomplished by it. . Let our Aldermen think of it; the subject is a very important one.
This article was originally published with the title "Vinegar—its Adulteration" in Scientific American 8, 12, 94 (December 1852)