9 Zesty Apple Cider Vinegar Substitutes

Let’s not pretend we’ve all not heard of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). It is the modern fitness freak’s most cherished health hack. Apple Cider vinegar comes from fermenting apples. The fermentation enriches the liquid with enzymes, healthy bacteria and probiotics.

The best thing about cider vinegar is its nutrition count, low calories and negligible sugar levels. This is because most of the sugar changes into alcohol upon fermentation. Then, to further the process, bacteria (yeast) is added to it. Consequently, the alcohol turns to acetic acid, which along with malic acid, give Apple Cider Vinegar its sour taste.

I’ve long used ACV in my morning drink for its various health benefits. But one day, when I reached for my bottle of ACV, I found it empty. Unfortunately, I finished the entire thing. It was too early for any shops to be open, and between all the work and house chores, I wasn’t sure if I had time for grocery errands. But I knew I couldn’t just go without it, as it was not just an integral part of my morning routine,I regularly utilized its unique flavour to spice up my food too.

So, I decided to make do. And that’s how there began a series of careful experiments where I tested all possible substitutes for Apple Cider Vinegar. I’ve since concluded my experiments, the results of which I’ll be sharing with you today. But not without having a brief discussion on Apple Cider Vinegar before we begin.


What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple Cider Vinegar is a kind of vinegar made from fermented apple juice. It is also called Cider vinegar. Despite its recent acclaim, Apple Cider has been used for centuries. The oldest known purposes of this vinegar are:

  • To maintain Blood Sugar levels
  • To fight off colds
  • To promote weight loss

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

Apple Cider Vinegar has an entire catalogue of health and beauty benefits. Some of them are:

  • Reduces bad cholesterol
  • Promotes heart health
  • Reduces acne and scarring
  • Boosts gut health
  • Prevents stomach acid reflux
  • It helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  • Rich in antioxidants which prevent cancers


How to use Apple Cider Vinegar?

You can drink ACV in your morning drink. If you are a beginner, I’ll advise you to only take 1-2 teaspoons and move your way up to 2 tablespoons. You can also add it to your daily teas, such as ginger tea etc. If you aren’t partial to its taste, try adding honey to counter the sourness.

Never take ACV without diluting it first. As it is a mild acid and can cause throat burns. Moreover, avoid consuming large amounts (upto 8 ounces) per day as that may cause potassium retention in the body and osteoporosis in the long term.


Apple Cider Vinegar Uses:

  • It is used as a surface cleaner and dish detergent
  • It is used to calm a sore throat
  • As a facial toner
  • To clean denture
  • To trap fruit flies and get rid of fleas
  • To preserve food
  • It is also used for treating dandruff
  • As a mouthwash
  • As a natural deodorant

Should I drink ACV in the morning or evening?

ACV is a healthy liquid and can be taken at either time. However, it is mostly drunk in the morning with a glass of juice or simply water. Drinking apple cider vinegar at night reduces the possibility of acid reflux and indigestion.

What can be substituted for apple cider in a recipe?

If you don’t have ACV at hand or can’t tolerate its taste in a dish, but the recipe calls for it. Fret not because I have listed a range of other ingredients you can use to substitute it.

1. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is easily the best alternative to ACV. It is readily available and can be fetched at home. Lemon juice is similar to ACV in both flavour and colour. Add lemon juice in a 1:1 ratio to ACV. However, citrus juices are based on citric acid, while vinegar contains acetic acid. Therefore, this may not go for every recipe, so be mindful of what your recipe demands and then add the substitutes.


2. White Wine Vinegar

You can use white wine vinegar as an ACV substitute too. Although it does not maintain the same fruity quality, it has a similar acidic bite to it. I found it slightly bland; therefore I blended in some lemon juice. To enrich the flavour, you can use any citrus juice such as lemon juice, orange juice, lime juice, etc. Use the ratio 1:1 to replace ACV with white wine vinegar. Although, you might want to consider your vinegar brand, as some make potent white wine vinegar. So taste, as you add, is the way to go.


3. Red Wine Vinegar

Red Wine vinegar has the same fruity quality to its taste as Apple Cider Vinegar. However, unless yours is homemade, red wine vinegar has a harsher tang and is deep red. If you are substituting ACV with it for sauces, beware that it’ll likely change the colour of your sauce. Red wine vinegar is a staple in Italian-American foods and the best apple cider vinegar substitute for ribs and other meat recipes.

Red wine vinegar must be used in the ratio of 1.25:1 to ACV. In culinary measurements, this means that for every 1 spoon of ACV, use 1¼ spoon of red wine vinegar.


4. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a lot sweeter in taste and darker in colour than Apple Cider Vinegar. For me, this vinegar worked as the best alternative to apple cider vinegar in salad dressings. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio to ACV. But I’d suggest you keep it a little less since you wouldn’t want to overdo the sweet flavour. Balsamic vinegar tends to be slightly more expensive than its counterparts.


5. Lime Juice

Lime juice is very similar to Lemon juice in quality. However, it is stronger in the acidity profile. It has a sharper fruity flavour too. Lime juice is the perfect alternative for salads, marinades and dishes that require extensive cooking. Remember to use a ratio of 1:1.


6. Apple Juice

Many won’t tell you this, but you can always use apple juice to substitute for apple cider vinegar. It has the same fruitiness though not the acidity. To replace 1 spoon of Apple Cider, use two spoons of Apple juice. 

Another great idea is to mix the apple juice with a few drops of white vinegar or lemon juice to make it even more close enough to the apple cider vinegar.


7. Orange Juice

It’s not surprising to see Orange juice on the list when other citric ones made it to the list. Orange juice has the same levels of acidity and fruitiness as Apple cider vinegar. Therefore, it makes a very delicious substitute. Use 1 spoon of orange juice to replace one spoon of ACV.


8. Unseasoned Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice. It is a milder type of vinegar and has a sweet undertone, a lot like apple cider vinegar. It is a perfect substitute for recipes like stir-frys, soups and rice. Although it is not very fruity, it matches the acidity levels. Unfortunately, rice vinegar isn’t as healthy as apple cider vinegar.


9. Malt Vinegar

Malt Vinegar may not be a household item, but it is an excellent alternative to Apple Cider Vinegar. Malt Vinegar is tangy and has a yeasty flavour. It is made from fermenting malted barley. Use a ratio of 1:1 to replace ACV with Malt vinegar. Malt vinegar works best as an apple cider vinegar substitute for pickling and recipes like sour marinades and chutney. For pickling, you can also use some other vinegar with around 4% acetic acid.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use regular vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar?
Absolutely! You can use regular vinegar or white vinegar to replace Apple cider vinegar. However, I’d recommend you add some citrus juice to get rid of the blandness.
Can I use regular vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar for fruit flies?
ACV is the best vinegar to trap fruit flies, but it’s not the only one. You can also use regular wine to kill fruit flies.
Is Apple cider vinegar healthier than white vinegar?
ACV is a lot healthier than distilled white vinegar as it contains all the nutrients from the apples (skin, stems and seeds).
Can I use regular vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar for my face?
Yes, you can! White vinegar makes a great face wash. It rids your skin of harmful entities like dead skin cells, dirt, excess oil and clogged pores. Finally, It is also suitable for all skin types.


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