Welcome to the USI Vinegar Competition

The First US International Vinegar Competition Where All The Judges Are Real Trade Buyers Judging The Samples By Category & Price.

Judges Will Be Judging As If Buying For Their Business

Open To All Commercially Produced Vinegar. It Does Not Have To Sold In The United States To Be In The Competition

Competition Will Be Held Week of June 1st 2024

Deadline Extended to May 28th ….Samples to arrive by May 28th

2024 USI Olive Oil Competition

March 2024

The only international olive oil competition where all the judge are real trade buyers. Judging the olive oil by category and price. Open to all commercially produced olive oils around the world. The olive oil does not have to be sold in the United States. Held at the same time as the USI Vinegar Competition and you may ship your olive oil and vinegar samples together to the competition

2024 USI Cheese Competition

Summer 2024

The only international cheese competition where all the judge are real trade buyers. Judging the cheese and dairy products by category and price. Open to all commercially produced cheese and dairy products from around the world. The cheese and dairy products does not have to be sold in the United States.

2024 USI Chocolate Competition

Fall 2024

The only international chocolate competition where all the judge are real trade buyers. Judging the chocolate by category and price. Open to all commercially produced chocolate products from around the world. The chocolate does not have to be sold in the United States.

US International Vinegar Competition

We are excited to bring our competition philosophy of trade buyers only judging to the Vinegar Industry. It is our belief that trade buyers truly know what consumers want and what they will buy at what price. Expert buyers will be blind tasting the vetted samples and will know the category, the place of orgin and the retail price.

Blind Judging

Fairness and unbiased blind judging ensures that every entry is evaluated solely on its quality, offering a level playing field for all participants.

Expert Panel

We’re the only International Competition of it’s kind where all the judges are real trade buyers who are judging by the category and actual price.

Visibility with Buyers

Gain unparalleled exposure to discerning buyers in this prestigious platform for showcasing your exquisite creations to an audience eager for the best in quality.

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The Vinegar Professor

Thank you for taking this journey with us as we want this to be the class you always wanted to take!  We started this as a collaborative effort of passionate people with a few professional writers mixed in to keep us honest. We launched this site to be informative for the trade and the consumer who strives to know more about the wonderful world of Vinegar. More importantly, we write articles about topics we care about and that we would want to share with our friends and fellow Vinegar lovers. So please feel free to contact us with any new topics or trends or products you are seeing.

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From The Philippines With Vinegar: Filipino Food’s Bright Future Abroad

Photo by Michael Harlan Turkell, from “ACID TRIP: Travels in the World of Vinegar” (Abrams)

In the Philippines, there’s a local Tagalog word paksiw that categorizes any food that’s been cooked in vinegar. Everyone adores adobo, the country’s national dish is their most famous culinary export — chicken thighs, pork belly, or even mackerel filets are seared then simmered in vinegar, soy sauce with aromatics: garlic, black peppercorn and bay leaves — but there’s also the more daring dinuguan (a savory meat stew finished with pig’s blood). Lumpia, fan-favorite fried spring roll, utilizes vinegar in a dipping sauce, while balut (fully cooked fertilized egg embryos eaten from the shell), deploys a dash of vinegar as a foil. Although vinegar is not always the dominant flavor in any of these dishes — it is the ultimate underlying bond that brings Filipino food together.

Historically, the Philippines was a port for many travelers, particularly the Chinese immigrants, Spanish colonizers and Portuguese traders. And these influences can be seen in Filipino food. One such influence came in the form of necessary preservation. When boats were asea, it was crucial to find non-refrigerated ways to make foods last—enter vinegar. From kinilaw (marinated seafood, kind of like a ceviche) to dinuguan (a savory meat stew finished with pig’s blood), lumpia (a side sauce for fan-favorite fried spring rolls), and balut (fully cooked fertilized egg embryos eaten from the shell), vinegar was in everything and made Filipino food, well, Filipino food.

 

Because so much of Filipino cooking involves vinegar, there’s an equally strong vinegar-making game in the country, most  derived from native flora such as coconuts, sugarcane and palm. The most prevalent Filipino brand, Datu Puti, has been the country’s go-to condiment since its inception nearly 50 years ago.

Five years ago, in 2019, Carlo Lamagna opened Magna Kusina in Portland, Oregon, who was born in the Philippines, makes seasonal versions of Filipino street foods he grew up eating. He guarantees that 80% of his menu has some sort of vinegar in it. “For adobo, vinegar is the quintessential ingredient. It’s used to brighten up [the dish] without adding extra flavor,” Lamagna notes. His “Wilfredo’s Adobo,” is named for his dad, who taught him how to make it. It’s not as wet/stew-like as most adobo, with a ratio of 2:1:½, stock to vinegar to soy sauce.  “I like it pretty balanced,” Lamagna says. ”Soy is just a seasoning agent, vinegar is the star. it’s on your tongue as soon as you bite into the adobo,” which is usually a bright clean type, such as Datu Puti.

 

Carlo Lamagna

Acid does exist in other forms in the Philippines, such as calamansi, a tart Filipino citrus fruit, but Lamgna doesn’t use much, rather “I use vinegar in the same way  people add lemon and/or lime juice,,” says Lamagna. Often, for adobo, he reaches for white distilled vinegar for its neutral flavor and potent acidity, he also tries to source Filipino  vinegars when he can. “My grandmother had a cane field [in the Philippines],” Lamagna recollects, “and made her own vinegar; it was harsher than white distilled in a good way, with  a much more punchy profile.” He recommends Silver Swan’s mellow rice vinegar-like cane vinegar for adobo and otherwise — even though the company’s better known for its soy sauce.

Another way Lamagna amps up acidity isn’t just in the dish, it’s also on the table — with infused vinegars. Both in the Philippines, and often at his restaurant, sinamak, customarily a bottle of vinegar stuffed with chiles and garlic, is often left out as a self-serve condiment. He also offers suka pinakurat, a coconut sap vinegar that’s even more spiced than sinamak — with onions, sweet peppers, sugar and salt added in for more complexity and body, which he pairs with pork Shanghai lumpia. Texturally Lamagna notes that Filipinos like their condiments chunky; “it’s almost like [the combination of suka and spring roll] becomes a salad; cuts through the fat, brightens up the dish, and whenever vinegar is mixed with pork it’s such a delight — like pork vinaigrette.”

 

Magna Kusina

Another compulsory combination is the vinegar float atop balut, which many say is essential in enjoying the polarizing street food. “Vendors in the Philippines have two jars: one of vinegar, one of salt;” Lamagna advocates for trying vinegar first. “The rich consome inside the shell and super rich egg yolk need it [vinegar], a lot of people don’t get that nuance, and that’s what a good dash of vinegar can do!”.

At Abacá in San Francisco, another one of my West Coast Filipino cuisine confidantes, Francis Ang takes the innate flavors of his Pinoy heritage, and accentuates their global influences. A lamb adobo empanada is high on acid to balance out the gaminess of fatty lamb, encased in a Latin-leaning turnover. “We use a pinakurat vinegar fluid gel inside [the savory pastry] eliminating the idea of vinegar as a side dip for fried ingredients,” acknowledges Ang. Veggie lumpia has pineapple chili vinegar poured atop, as tokwa’t baboy (a pig’s ear salad) which is shaved carpaccio-style with smoked tofu cream, rhubarb and celery, layered with a gelee of black vinegar. In another application, Ang mixes cane vinegar with rice syrup and soy sauce boiled down to a syrupy gastrique that’s both piquant and profound — it graces a plate of smokey sweet longaniza pork sausage as a contrast.

 

Photo by: Allison Webber @fox_zilla

While trying to find his modern Filipino form, Ang was also trying to find imported archetypal of indigenous vinegars; “there’s Sukang Iloko, local [to the Philippines] fermented cane sugar vinegar, traditionally fermented in burnay [earthenware] jars — [the vinegar is] dark in color, oxidized.” Ang includes this in a strawberry jus for a salmon kinilaw. He’s found an array of regional coconut vinegars as well, for his sweet-and-sour grilled chicken inasal, skewers from the Northwest city of Bacolod (in the Philippines), basted with bright yellow annatto butter.

  

Thin Cut Pork with Atchara – photo by Allison Webber @fox_zilla

Although pickles also play a part of how Ang introduces acidic elements — pickled Asian pears compliment an order of pork lumpia, and the requisite achara, grated unripe papaya (sometimes daikon and carrot as well) comes with a rotating selection of barbecue skewers — vinegar is a flavor enhancer at its core. It’s still has ties to a time when travelers first came through the Philippines; “a lot of times my parents, grandma or aunties would cook and leave food out for a few days [at room temperature] — in a tropical country, you can leave them [certain foods, like adobo, and even kinilaw] out in sun until the vinegar and salt preserves them.” Suffice to say, vinegar preserves traditional Filipino food in more ways than one.

 

Abi Balingit’s adobo chocolate chip cookie

BONUS RECIPE:

Abi Balingit, author of Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed, adds a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to her adaptation of adobo chocolate cookies, vinegar is the vessel that brings the flavors of her Filipino heritage to a new audience.

 
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