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Vinegar is mentioned on quite a number of pages on this website. So I am grateful to Peter Johnson for the following information on how it was sold, what types were available and some of the many ways how it was used - see below.
It conjures up memories from my early childhood in the 1940s of my mother going to the chemist and either taking an empty bottle or buying a new clean one from the chemist and getting him to fill it with vinegar. I don't remember seeing it being filled, which was probably done out at the back somewhere, but the bottle certainly had a fresh label, specially written for that particular sale.
Vinegar was sold 'loose' before the around the 1950s. That is you took a container to the local shop and they would fill it up from a giant wooden barrel.
There was white and brown malt vinegar and pickling vinegar, this was brown vinegar to which some hot spices had been added during manufacturer.
Vinegar was very versatile:
You could pickle cabbage and beetroot. You could add mint and you had mint sauce throughout the winter.
People even washed their hair in vinegar to get rid of fleas.
Vinegar was added to the rinse when washing cloths and bed sheets that were badly soiled.
If you grazed your skin, a vinegar poultice would be applied, ie a piece of clean cloth soaked in vinegar would be tied to the wound. A touch of Florence Nightingale and the Crimea I think.
Vinegar was even used to clean the windows - one of the best methods of cleaning glass ever thought of.
Before Listerine was invented a little vinegar was mixed with water for use as a mouth wash.
The best smell from my childhood was brown vinegar sprinkled on hot fish and chips.