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Rice Vinegar Vs White Vinegar

Rice vinegar and white vinegar have a similar color but a very different taste. White vinegar is sour and quite harsh while rice vinegar is very sweet and soft. In fact, white vinegar is so strong it’s more commonly used as a household cleaner than in cooking. However it’s perfectly safe to cook with and used in many recipes for it’s strong flavoring. Both types of vinegar have acid as a base compound and are translucent. And both are used as a cooking vinegar. When comparing white vinegar vs white vinegar you’ll notice their taste is different but they both have a crisp and clean vinegar flavor. This makes them both a fantastic vinegar for a variety of dishes.

What’s the difference between rice vinegar and white vinegar? The main difference between rice vinegar and white vinegar is taste. While white vinegar is strong and sour, rice vinegar is softer and sweet. More recipes use rice vinegar than white vinegar. Especially in Asian recipes.

Rice vinegar can sometimes have a sour taste along with the sweet which works well in many dishes. And its sweetness can very. Some types taste very sweet so taste a bit before adding it to your recipe. However white vinegar is always sour. It’s a much harsher vinegar so use it sparingly.

What Is Rice Vinegar?

Rice vinegar is made from fermented glutinous rice. It’s the sweetest most delicate vinegar using in cooking and is a key ingredient is many Asian dishes.

The sugars found in rice are converted to alcohol (rice wine) and then into the acid we know as rice wine vinegar. Then it undergoes a second bacteria-laden fermentation process which turns it into rice vinegar. The first product, rice wine vinegar, is sweeter and less acidic. But after the second fermentation process it becomes more acidic and looses some sweetness.

Rice vinegar’s flavor profile is generally less acidic and milder than distilled white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or malt vinegar. And it’s not as sweet as rice wine vinegar.

Keep in mind that rice vinegar is different than rice wine vinegar. Rice wine vinegar is sweeter and less acidic because it doesn’t go through the second fermentation process.

When comparing rice vs white vinegar, you’ll notice a big difference in acidity and flavor. Rive vinegar is softer and sweeter while white vinegar is stronger and more sour.

Popular Rice Vinegar Uses

Rice vinegar is found in a variety of dishes and is a staple of Asian cuisine.

Some great uses for rice vinegar include:

  • Marinade: Rice vinegar is great for making marinades and dipping sauces. Try mixing soy sauce and rice vinegar as a dipping sauce for your Chinese or Japanese dishes. I also like to throw in a little garlic and ginger.
  • Stir-fry: Add rice vinegar to stir-fry for a bit of acidity and sweetness.
  • Vinaigrette: Use rice vinegar to make an Asian inspired vinaigrette or salad dressing that’s both sour and sweet.
  • Sushi rice: Rice vinegar is one of the primary ingredients for making sushi rice.

Does All Rice Vinegar Taste The Same?

No. Rice vinegar made from white grain rice tastes pretty much the same no matter what brand you buy. But some varieties use different types of rice. Different rice means the vinegar will look and taste different than regular rice vinegar.

For example, black rice vinegar is made from glutinous black rice. It has a dark coloring like soy sauce and a smoky flavor.

Unless stated otherwise, when a recipe says rice vinegar they mean standard rice vinegar made from white rice.

What Is White Vinegar?

White vinegar is also known as distilled vinegar or spirit vinegar.

It’s made by fermenting grain alcohol (ethanol) which turns into acetic acid. Water is then added to the vinegar.

When making white vinegar for cooking, the ratio of water to acetic acid is five to ten percent acetic acid and ninety to ninety-five percent water.

When using white vinegar for cooking, I recommend a milder solution of around 5% – 10%. White vinegar can have a strong acidic and sour taste which can easily overwhelm a dish. In fact, some types of white vinegar are so strong they’re used more for cleaning than cooking. I use a 20% white vinegar solution to remove rust from old tools. This is too strong for consumption.

White vinegar is clear and crisp vinegar with an acidic sour flavor. It’s great for cooking and found in many recipes. And it’s easy to find.

White vinegar is the most common kind of vinegar sold and is easy to find in any grocery store, Target or Walmart.

Popular White Vinegar Uses

White vinegar is great in a variety of dishes. It’s also works well as a household cleaner. I use 10% white vinegar to remove stains from grout, countertops, floors and to remove rust from old tools. But it’s also really good in a lot of recipes.

I recommend using a milder vinegar for cooking and something stronger for cleaning.

  • Pickling: Use white vinegar when pickling fruits and vegetables.
  • Cooking: Make a vinaigrette, salad dressing, marinade, or sauce using white vinegar.
  • Cleaning: There are types of white vinegar specially made for household cleaning. These are much stronger than cooking vinegar. Most contain around 20% alcohol and are not suitable for consumption. You can use white vinegar to clean household items and surfaces and to remove stains in clothing. It has a natural anti-microbial quality that makes it great for disinfecting surfaces.

Rice Vinegar Vs White Vinegar: What’s The Difference?

Vinegar is distinct for its sour taste. There are many varieties available on the market but their cooking purpose is the same. Vinegar adds acidity or tartness to a dish which enhances the food’s flavor.

Rice vinegar and white vinegar are both acidic. They both taste and smell like vinegar. But there are two key differences between them.

White vinegar is made from fermented grain alcohol while rice vinegar is made from fermented rice.

  • Rice Vinegar is milder and less acidic than white vinegar with a sour and sweet flavor.
  • White Vinegar is harsher with more acidity with a sour taste.

The primary question I get asked is can you substitute rice vinegar for white vinegar and vice versa. And the answer is usually yes.

I sometimes substitute rice vinegar with white vinegar. But because white is more sour and less sweet I add some sugar to balance the flavors.

When I use rice vinegar instead of white the swap is easier and less noticeable. I sometimes add a bit of lemon or lime juice to increase the acidity and cut the sweetness a bit.

Both rice and white vinegar are sour, but rice is also sweet. If you want more sour go with white. But if you want a little less sour and some sweet, try rice.

Color

Rice Vinegar and White vinegar differ in color a bit. Both kinds are transparent. But regular white vinegar has a whitish tint to it while distilled white vinegar is very clear. Rice vinegar is usually pale yellow in color.

Origin

Rice vinegar was invented in Asia and is is considered a staple in Asian cuisine. It’s most popular in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese dishes. Although rice vinegar is used all over the world.

White vinegar is a more common vinegar in Western cooking.

Can You Substitute Rice Vinegar For White Vinegar?

One of the most common questions I’m asked about vinegar is can you substitute rice vinegar for white vinegar? And the answer is yes.

You can substitute rice vinegar for white vinegar in most cases. White vinegar is one of the most common and widely used types. It’s a bit harsh and sour but it’s regular vinegar. Rice vinegar is similar but it’s milder with less acidity and more sweetness.

Rice vinegar works well as a substitute because it’s mild so the change isn’t overpowering. The flavor profiles are slightly different but they’re not so different that the recipe will be ruined. In fact, in some recipes I actually substitute rice vinegar for white because I like the added sweetness.

When substituting rice vinegar for white vinegar, use a one-to-one ratio. Add a little lemon juice or lime juice for tartness.

Can You Substitute White Vinegar For Rice Vinegar?

While white and rice vinegar may be close in color, their flavors are completely opposite. Rice vinegar is sweet and relatively mild while white vinegar is sour and harsh. However white can still be substituted for rice vinegar if you do it properly.

White vinegar can be substituted for rice vinegar in most recipes. The flavor will be more acidic and sour, however this can be fixed by adding some sugar to balance out the flavor profile. Sugar not only counteracts the acidity but also the sour taste.

When substituting white vinegar for rice vinegar, use a one-to-one ratio. Then add sugar slowly to taste.

Keep in mind that adding sugar to a recipe also adds calories.

various vinegars in a row rice vinegar vs white vinegar

The Best Substitute for Rice Vinegar Is Apple Cider

Although you can substitute white vinegar for rice vinegar is most recipes, it’s not the best.

The best substitute for rice vinegar is apple cider vinegar. It’s relatively mild with a very slight apple flavor that won’t overpower a dish.

Apple cider vinegar is a great all around choice that can be used as a substitute for just about any other vinegar.

When substituting apple cider for rice vinegar, use a one-to-one ratio.

In addition to being a great all around vinegar for cooking, apple cider is said to have several health benefits. This include weight loss, lowering blood pressure, reducing headaches and migraines and helping with blood sugar. Instead of drinking a cap full a day try adding it to your food.

When apple cider vinegar is used in food the apple flavor is hardly noticeable. However when it’s used for pickling the apple flavor is more prominent.

Other Vinegar Substitutes

While each type of vinegar is different, they all have some common attributes which occasionally makes them OK to substitute in some recipes. If you do it correctly.

There are lots of vinegars on grocery store shelves with different colors and flavors. But how many of them can be substituted for rice or white vinegar? While some may look similar their flavor profiles are very different.

The first rule of thumb when substituting one vinegar for another is color. It’s generally not the best indicator. Just because two vinegars are close in color does not mean the flavors will be the same. Taste is much more important than color.

Another rule is to go with a weaker vinegar when in doubt. White is a strong vinegar so almost any other vinegar will work in most recipes. But rice is milder and more sweet. So you need to substitute a vinegar that’s also on the mild and sweet side. And if you can’t other ingredients should be used to balance out the flavor profile. Things like sugar, lemon and lime work great.

Here’s a breakdown of each vinegar in terms of flavor.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is clear in color. It’s flavor profile is sour and harsh.The strength of cooking white vinegar ranges from 5% to 10%. I generally recommend cooking with a weaker white vinegar. I use the stronger varieties for pickling.

White vinegar is one of the most aggressive vinegars you can buy. It has natural anti-microbial qualities which makes it a great cleaner. However cleaning vinegar and cooking vinegar are different. Cleaning vinegar is usually around 20% strength which is not meant for consuming.

Almost any vinegar can be used as a substitute for white vinegar because it’s so strong. But watch out for the tastes brought by the vinegar substitute. For example, rice vinegar is sweet, so when substituting white with rice, add a little lemon or lime juice to balance the flavors.

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar has a slight tang to it and can be sweet. It’s great as a topping drizzled over salads, chicken, or pizza.

Balsamic vinegar is sold white and colored. The flavor is very similar no matter the color.

When making a substitution I recommend using white. It makes it harder to detect the substitution.

Balsamic vinegar is easy to substitute for other types of vinegar because it can be both sour and sweet depending on the brand you buy. It’s usually tangy with some sweetness. This makes it a versatile replacement because it hits both taste profiles. You can then adjust the flavor by adding some sugar or lemon juice.

White & Red Wine Vinegar

Red and white wine vinegar are both rich, fruity, and a bit tangy. They’re both a little stronger than rice vinegar but not as strong as white.

Use them with meaty dishes like stews and sauces or to make a nice vinaigrette.

When substituting I recommend using white to disguise the switch.

Sherry Vinegar

Sherry vinegar is sweet with a well balanced acidity. It’s a great substitute for rice vinegar. Depending on the rice vinegar’s sweetness that you’re substituting, you may need to add a pinch of sugar.

Champagne Vinegar

Champagne vinegar has a very mild sweetness that works well in dressings, marinades and with fish. You can swap champagne for rice vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. I usually add just a touch of sugar.

What Does Vinegar Do To a Recipe?

White vinegar is one of the most common types of cooking vinegar. Using it in small amounts adds a bit of tartness and acidity to the food.

Rice vinegar can be sweet to very sweet and a little sour depending on the brand you buy. It’s milder in flavor than white vinegar. The most common food you’ll find rice vinegar used for is Asian. However it works well in any dish that needs a little sweetness.

  • White vinegar is great for salads, marinades, meat or sour soups.
  • Rice vinegar is the right choice for sushi, Asian barbecue, marinades, dips and salads.

White vinegar is a great all around choice for baking. Use it to make buttermilk, cupcakes and many types of bread.

Try rice vinegar when you want just a hint of acidity, tartness or sweetness but don’t want to add lemon juice or sugar.

Can I Use White Vinegar Instead Of Rice Vinegar For Sushi?

It’s OK to use white vinegar instead of rice vinegar for making sushi. White vinegar is one of the most common types of vinegar for cooking. It has a similar flavor to rice vinegar but with less sweetness and more sour. Both ingredients add a a great flavor to sushi rice without taking away from the fish’s taste.

Because white vinegar has a more sour flavor with less sweet, you can add a touch of sugar. This balances the flavor profile and makes it taste more like rice vinegar.

When substituting white vinegar for rice vinegar, use a 1:1 ratio.

White vinegar has natural anti-microbial properties which can help prevent bacteria from growing on the sushi.

Final Thoughts

Here’s a short overview of things to consider when choosing the right vinegar or substitute for a recipe.

  • Rice vinegar is mild with a sweet and sour taste
  • White vinegar is harsh with a sour flavor
  • Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice
  • White vinegar is made from fermented grains including corn and other wheat-based fermented alcohols
  • Rice vinegar is primarily used in Asian cuisine
  • White vinegar is considered a Western vinegar
  • Rice vinegar is pale yellow
  • White vinegar is slightly white or clear in color
  • White vinegar is both a cooking and disinfecting vinegar
  • It’s OK to substitute rice vinegar for white or white for rice in most dishes. However in some cases you should balance the flavor profile by adding lemon or lime juice for acidity and tartness or sugar for sweetness.
  • Rice vinegar is milder so it’s easier to use as a substitute.
  • White vinegar is harsher with a stronger taste profile which makes it harder to use as a substitute. But it works if you use it sparingly and add a pinch of sugar.

Summary: Rice Vinegar Vs White Vinegar

Rice vinegar and white vinegar have a similar color but a very different taste. White vinegar is sour and quite harsh while rice vinegar is very sweet and soft. In fact, white vinegar is so strong it’s more commonly used as a household cleaner than in cooking. However it’s perfectly safe to cook with and used in many recipes for it’s strong flavoring. Both types of vinegar have acid as a base compound and are translucent. And both are used as a cooking vinegar. When comparing white vinegar vs white vinegar you’ll notice their taste is different but they both have a crisp and clean vinegar flavor. This makes them both a fantastic vinegar for a variety of dishes.

What’s the difference between rice vinegar and white vinegar? The main difference between rice vinegar and white vinegar is taste. While white vinegar is strong and sour, rice vinegar is softer and sweet. More recipes use rice vinegar than white vinegar. Especially in Asian recipes.

Rice vinegar can sometimes have a sour taste along with the sweet which works well in many dishes. And its sweetness can very. Some types taste very sweet so taste a bit before adding it to your recipe. However white vinegar is always sour. It’s a much harsher vinegar so use it sparingly.

If you have any questions about vinegar, email any time.

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