Can You Substitute Apple Cider Vinegar for White Vinegar?

Can You Substitute Apple Cider Vinegar for White Vinegar?

White vinegar is an essential, multi-purpose ingredient in everyone’s pantry. What can you do if you run out? You do not have to cancel your plans. You can still make coleslaw or your favorite marinade.  

Can you substitute apple cider vinegar for white vinegar? Yes, you can. Apple cider vinegar is one of the best alternatives because white vinegar’s taste is inimitable by anything apart from other vinegar products.   

What Other Alternatives Can Replace White Vinegar? 

Vinegar can differ by strength, color, and flavor but all types are fermented, acidic, and essentially used for similar purposes. This is good news when you need to substitute one for another but you might not have any type of vinegar at home. What else could work for your recipes? 

Alternatively, lemon or lime juice is perfect for salad dressings, coleslaw, relish, or marinades if you are out of vinegar. Lemon and lime can even be used for cleaning just like vinegar due to their citric acid content. Therefore, you can expect similar results when using these substitutes. You could even mix in some champagne with your lemon or lime juice. This sweeter replacement perfectly mimics the color of white vinegar. 

When it comes to canned or pickled items, you need to add a type of vinegar with an acetic acid content of at least 4.5%. You can adjust the amount of salt, sugar, vinegar, and water depending on your preferences. If you are on a low-sodium or low-sugar diet, modify your recipe accordingly. 

Balsamic vinegar is tangy and often used as a glaze. It is not always the best substitute because of its thicker consistency and different color but it is a good replacement as a salad dressing. If you choose balsamic vinegar for pickling and canning, be aware that it has some smokiness to its flavor. 

Lemon or lime juice may give pickles a different taste that not everybody would enjoy. It is never a bad idea to experiment with a small batch to see if you like a certain flavor.  

The History of Vinegar

There is so much history behind this product. The first mention of vinegar can be traced back to 5000 BC when alcohol brewing began. Babylonia was the first civilization to record its use. Ancient Egypt also recognized how this preservative can make the long-distance transportation of perishables possible. Hippocrates was the first to describe the antibacterial properties of vinegar because wounds could effectively be treated with it. 

Vinegar did not get invented on purpose because it was discovered when wine turned sour as a result of improper storage. It was a major trading commodity for centuries and played a crucial role as a refreshment when access to safe drinking water was a luxury.

At the time, it was called “poor man’s wine” or “sour wine”. This might sound unimaginable from a modern perspective but this fermented, sour liquid in its diluted form was a water substitute among the soldiers of the Roman Empire and the poor. 

While vinegar tonic still exists, daily consumption of larger amounts is not recommended due to the dental damage acidity is associated with. Nowadays, vinegar is only used in foods and drinks sparingly.  

How is Vinegar Made? 

As time went by, vinegar production shifted from wine fermentation to a wider range of fermentable carbohydrates found in vegetables, fruit, grains, sugarcane, alcohol, whey, molasses, and honey. There are many different variations including rice, apple cider, wine, sherry, malt, and balsamic (grape) vinegar. 

White vinegar is made from grain alcohol and cider vinegar is made from apple juice. 10% of vinegar products are still made in the traditional way by being kept in barrels for months. The rest is mass-produced to accelerate the process.

Both methods achieve the same: in order to make vinegar, ethanol has to be converted into acetic acid. Vinegar comes into being when the oxygen supply of the naturally occurring, benign bacteria known as acetobacter increases during the fermentation process. 

You might wonder if distilled vinegar is any different. It is not as strong as regular white vinegar. It is obtained from distilled alcohol and it is mainly used for consumption because of its lower acidity level. 

Traditionally made vinegar is considered of higher quality because it does not contain any additives or synthetic ingredients. White vinegar made for consumption consists of 4-7% acetic acid and 93-96% water. Its acetic acid content can reach 20% for other uses. Apple cider vinegar has 5-6% acetic acid with 94-95% water added. Cider vinegar has a stronger aftertaste. Thus, try to add less first to make sure the flavor still turns out the way you want it. 

What Can Vinegar Be Used for?

For Consumption

Small quantities of vinegar are added to yogurts, pickles, fruit drinks, and condiments. It is an excellent preservative. In addition, it balances out sweet and tart flavors in salad dressings and marinades. Buttermilk can be made with it when it is mixed with whole milk. As vinegar also reacts with baking soda because of its acidity, it can add an airy texture to desserts.

As a Household Cleaner

Vinegar can kill bacteria and dissolve hard-water deposits with its acidity. It even dissolves grease clogs in kitchens. It is an ideal cleaner for various surfaces when mixed with baking soda. Cleaning vinegar has a higher acidity level for more cleaning power and that is why it is not for consumption. Do not use a highly acidic cleaning vinegar inside because of the fumes and potential damage to your furniture.   

How Does Vinegar Affect Your Health?

Apple cider vinegar has been known for its health benefits but some of these are anecdotal. It does contribute to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels as it slows down the absorption of carbohydrates. Try to opt for raw organic apple cider vinegar because this type contains yeast and beneficial bacteria. This is what gives it a cloudy appearance.  

There is some evidence that supports the theory that cider vinegar is beneficial for weight loss because it keeps people full longer. Nonetheless, drinking this product without proper dilution is not advisable.  

Moderation is important. Apple cider vinegar’s regular consumption does have drawbacks. It could interact with certain medications and potentially damage the enamel of your teeth. Having more than the recommended daily amount for years can lead to weak bones (osteoporosis) and low potassium levels.

Some regular consumers also report nausea and heartburn. Rinse with clean water after having apple cider vinegar in order to prevent dental decay.   

Final Thoughts

The multifunctional nature of this product makes it a household must-have. Achieving similar results or flavors with another ingredient is not possible unless the substitute is acidic. Apple cider vinegar is an adequate replacement but as opposed to the 2 year shelf life of cider vinegar, the good news is white vinegar can last almost indefinitely. Thus, if you purchase some extra for later, it never has to go to waste.