Vinegar has been used for pickling for many years. It’s quick and effective, and the taste is wonderful. However, there are plenty of different kinds to choose from. Some of them work faster than others, while a few produce a unique flavor. It might be hard to pick the right one, but we’ve got you covered.
There are several types of vinegar that work well for pickling, but the best choices include:
- Distilled white vinegar (5-10% acidity)
- Cider vinegar (5% acidity)
- Malt vinegar (5% acidity)
- Wine vinegar (7% acidity)
This is the type of vinegar that I use and recommend, found on Amazon. Just make sure that whatever you choose has at least 5% acidity.
Each type produces a different flavor, color, and texture. Some of them keep longer than others, and there are even a couple that is very acidic compared to the other options.
Throughout this article, you’ll learn all about choosing the best vinegar for pickling, as well as whether or not you can use any vinegar that you have at home, and what the main differences are between vinegar and pickling vinegar. Without further ado, let’s jump into the list!
Can You Use Any Vinegar for Pickling?
Pickling is simply the process of storing vegetables and other food in vinegar to increase the shelf life, enhance the flavor, and raise the acidity. It’s a perfect way to change up your diet without losing any nutritional value. With so many people trying to pickle their vegetables at home, it’s easy to see why there are a few hiccups along the way.
You can technically use any vinegar to pickle your food, but you might not like the results. Pickling is designed to add flavor, but the only flavor you’ll get from vinegar is sour or bitter. You need spices and other additives to get a nice boost.
In short, yes, you can use any vinegar for pickling. Feel free to pull out the white vinegar from the cupboard and start filling your jars. Here’s a short step-by-step guide on pickling with any vinegar:
- Thinly slice the vegetables. This allows them to soak up the vinegar much quicker, and it also changes the texture to be smoother. Once you’ve sliced them, you can toss the vegetables into your jars.
- Fill each jar with vinegar until the vegetables are covered completely. You’ll need to use a lot of vinegar depending on how many jars you’re filling. One gallon should be more than enough for most projects, though.
- Remove the air bubbles from the jar to prevent them from interfering with the pickling process. You can do this by using a spoon to lift them out or bump the jar against the counter lightly until all of the air is removed.
- Seal the lids and set each jar on the counter. Leave them there until they reach room temperature (about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit), then toss them in the refrigerator. Remember that pickling gets better over time, so you shouldn’t eat the pickled vegetables until after about 48 to 72 hours.
In case you’re wondering, I wrote an article called Do Pickles Need to Be Refrigerated | How to Store Them Right. It explains all you need to know about the topic.
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to pickle using any vinegar you have around the house. However, it’s not too much harder to make a delicious brine or purchase pickling vinegar to achieve a much better flavor.
For more information about the differences between the two types, proceed to the next section.
What is the Difference Between Vinegar and Pickling Vinegar?
There are several differences between vinegar and pickling vinegar. As mentioned in the previous section, you can use most household vinegar for pickling, but you might not like the results. That being said, some people enjoy the simplicity and ease of access to products that they already have.
Here are the differences between vinegar and pickling vinegar:
- Pickling vinegar is loaded with delicious spices and other flavors to enhance the produce that you pickle. When you use it in a jar, you’ll get the spiciness of pepper and all-spice mixed with the warm flavors of cinnamon and the sweetness of sugar. However, regular vinegar has nothing other than a sour, bitter taste.
- Pickling vinegar is almost always watered down to reduce the flavor of vinegar before the spices are added. Since most people don’t want to bite into a pickle that tastes like a gallon of white vinegar, they cut it in half with equal parts of water. After the spices are added, the sourness is a nice added touch.
- White vinegar can be used to clean mirrors, bathrooms, kitchens, and more. However, pickling vinegar can’t since it’s diluted so much. On top of that, you might not like the smell of rotted spices all over the place! When you’re cleaning, stick with regular vinegar to get the job done.
- Unfortunately, pickling vinegar often costs much more at the store. Since it’s so popular and most people don’t want to make their own at home, companies often charge twice as much as they do for white vinegar. If you’re crafty, you can make a brine by heating up vinegar, like this kind found on Amazon,, water, and your choice of spices.
- Finally, there are far more types of pickling vinegar than regular vinegar since it’s customizable. You can use any spices that you want, combined with any type of vinegar on the market, to achieve the flavor profile that you prefer. The variety surpasses regular white vinegar without question.
Best Four Types of Pickling Vinegar
There are countless types of pickling vinegar since you can use whatever spices you want, but four of them are more popular than others. Here are the four main kinds of pickling vinegar, as well as a few details about each of them.
- Cider vinegar is known as the “mother of all vinegar” because it’s packed with healthy nutrition and helpful bacteria. It can help with indigestion and all sorts of other health issues. It’s much sourer than other vinegar, especially when it reaches the 5% acidity needed for pickling.
- Distilled white vinegar is more appetizing for beginners because it doesn’t change the color of your food due to its clarity of it. It’s also acidic enough to pickle your vegetables, so you don’t have to worry about diluting or looking for higher content. The mild flavor profile doesn’t intrude on the natural taste of produce, either.
- Malt vinegar is also very common, but it’s much bolder than other types of pickling vinegar. The dark brown color changes the shade of the vegetables stored in it, and you’ll get a stronger taste than you might expect. Due to the combination, you should only consider using it with vegetables that are bold as well.
- Wine vinegar has a unique flavor compared to the rest of the list. It’s strong, like red wine, and the color matches it as well. If you prefer the taste of salad dressing vinegar compared to traditional sour vinegar, then you’ll probably love wine vinegar. Make sure it’s 5% since many of them are used for dressings that are 4% or lower.
You may also want to read my article called The 3 Best Substitutes for Vinegar in Cooking and Canning. Just in case you are wondering if vinegar has to be used.
Pickling vinegar and regular vinegar are very different, but they have a few similarities as well. You can use white vinegar to pickle vegetables, but it won’t taste as good as pickling vinegar. However, you can’t use pickling vinegar to clean, whereas white vinegar excels in that area. All in all, it’s a good idea to have both of them ready to go whenever you need them.
Here’s a quick recap of the post:
- The four main types of pickling vinegar are cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar, malt vinegar, and wine vinegar.
- You can make your own pickling vinegar at home by warming up the vinegar with spices and then letting it cool down to room temperature.
- It takes 48 to 72 hours to fully pickle your vegetables.
Be sure to check out any of my other pickling articles that you find interesting!
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss Pickling vs. Canning | What’s the Difference?
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