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Difference Between Rice Vinegar and Regular Vinegar

vinegarRice Vinegar vs Regular Vinegar

Regular Vinegar, widely used in cuisines world over, is as old as our civilization.  A dilute alcohol solution (ethanol) inoculated by acetic acid producing bacteria ‘Acetobacter’ kept in a warm airy space, would be automatically fermented to vinegar in course of 2-3 months, producing acetic acid, its key ingredient in the process. The acetic acid gives the vinegar, obviously a liquid, its sour taste and pungent smell.

Concentration of acetic acid, in vinegar ranges from 4% to 8% by volume in table vinegars to 18% for vinegars used in pickle making. Regular vinegar may also contain traces of tartaric acid and citric acid. Industrial vinegar making process increases supply of oxygen to the bacteria to speed up fermentation, reducing the time of fermentation from few months to 2-3 days or even less. Regular vinegar is also produced by synthesis of petroleum. The pH value of vinegar ranges from 2 to 3.5, the commercial vinegar having a pH of about 2.4.

Ethanol, the main vinegar producing ingredient can be derived form various sources like wine, cider, beer, fermented fruit juices and even from natural gas and petroleum derivatives. Vinegar is also produced from fermented rice or rice wine in China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea. Chinese rice vinegar ranges in color from clear to various shades of brown to red and is stronger than the Japanese variety. Both the Chinese and Japanese vinegars are much milder than the western variety. As per Chinese cuisine books, Chinese vinegar has almost half the strength of that of the western white distilled vinegar.

Now we are in a position to differentiate between the regular and the rice vinegars.
1. While the regular vinegars are stronger in pH value and are thus more acidic, the East Asian rice vinegars (made in China , Japan , Vietnam and Korea ) are much milder and mellowed.
2. The taste of regular vinegars is tarter and smells more pungent than their rice cousins.
3. Whereas the regular vinegar can be used in pickle making, the rice vinegars can not be used for pickle making. Rice vinegars are good for salad, ginger and onion dressings.
4. Regular vinegars have many uses including preservative, medicinal, cleaning and as disinfectant. The rice variety being much milder has practically no medicinal and preservative uses and has limited cleaning and disinfectant values.
5. Regular vinegars have a large number of varieties depending on the process and ethanol making material (wine, beer, various fruit juices, cider etc). Their taste, flavor and other qualities vary greatly from one another. The rice vinegar too has a number of derivatives depending on process of manufacture and content.

Summary:
1. Regular vinegar is more acidic than rice vinegar.
2. Regular vinegar has medicinal use while rice vinegar has no medicinal uses.
3. Regular vinegar mainly processes from ethanol while rice vinegar is obtained by fermenting rice.


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