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Superlative seasonings

Why salt and vinegar is such a perfect pairing

The acidic tang of vinegar fused with a smattering of salt elevates a fish supper from good to great.

Salt has long been used by mankind, both as a flavouring and a natural preserve as it draws the moisture out of foods, denying bacteria the conditions required to flourish. Vinegar dates to Ancient Egypt, its etymology being the French words vin (wine) and aigre (sour). It got a British twist when fermented barley was used on these shores to make malt vinegar.

Instead of using just any old salt at Woolsery Fish & Chips we decided to create our own in-house seasoning mix to enhance the flavour of our chips and make them just a little different to those at other fish and chip shops.

Fish and chips became the British working class treat of choice in the late 19th century as a result of being both delicious and affordable – and it’s remained a firm favourite ever since. However, while salt was used as a seasoning on fish and chips from the outset, it wasn’t until the 1930s that malt vinegar was established as its culinary partner. Part of its popularity came from the fact that it was made in Britain, so didn’t require importation. Then, during the Second World War, it played into the patriotic championing of British-made products. And even though ketchup, tartar and curry sauces vie for their spot at the table, it’s salt and vinegar that reign as the nation’s favourite chip shop condiments.

At Woolsery, we’ve created own unique version of the standard seasonings, as Manager Ash Palmer explains:

‘Instead of using just salt we wanted to create our own in-house seasoning mix to enhance the flavour of our chips. This mix consists of salt, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and celery salt, which we infuse with fresh rosemary and thyme.’

The vinegar is just as bespoke and handcrafted:

‘We wanted to enhance the typical chip shop vinegar as standard malt vinegar tends to be quite harsh,’ says Ash. ‘So we create our own vinegar blend of malt vinegar and red wine vinegar, add a touch of balsamic, our salt seasoning mix, a pinch of light brown sugar and a little honey to help balance the sharpness.’

Fish and chips ... but not as you know it