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Why would I use white vinegar?

Why do people still use white vinegar? Is there a benefit? With flavorful options such as wine, cider or rice, is there a reason other than a chemistry experiment? I stay away from sugary ones such as raspberry flavored, but white has nothing there. Just wondering.

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  1. In a pinch when out of cider vinegar the white can be used for an agrodolce quite successfully.Still the best cleaning tool made, used today to clean out a small cruet with stain in bottom.

    1. I use it for pickling, precisely because it has no distracting flavors. I don't want my pickled string beans to taste like apples, or grapes.

      6 Replies
      1. re: small h

        +1. I use it for it's clean taste as well. I use it (diluted) for marinating my cucumbers and onions in the summer and add my own fresh dill and seasonings for a refreshing salad that lasts several days. Also I use it for occasionally poaching eggs where I am not necessarily looking to add flavor. It also cleans the coffee pot at times and cleans glass and only costs $.69 a gallon. Why wouldn't I keep some around?

        1. re: LorenM

          I do this too - the chilled cucumber/onion/dill salad, in a water/vinegar combination is great when it's hot out. And it's neutral for salad dressings where you want other ingredients to stand out.

          My SiL buys the big gallon bottles of cheap white vinegar to clean her hardwood floors.

          1. re: pasuga

            Yeah, I use it when I want the acidity with a neutral taste, like in hot sauce, or quick pickles. Sometimes you want the other flavours to dominate, rather than having the vinegar dominate.

            Although for the cucumber and onion salad I usually use fresh lemon juice as the acidic ingredient.

            Plus, it's good for cleaning white laundry, washing windows, removing odors from stuff, and other useful household stuff.

        2. re: small h

          Agree on the pickling. I've tried using fancier vinegars, and the results just never taste subtle or rich - just muddy.

          1. re: Ferdzy

            Plus, it's important that the acidity be right or you don't actually preserve. White is 5%. I looked at a few others in my cabinet and some were 4%. That may not work right.

          2. re: small h

            i use it all the time to make fresh pickles from sliced persian cucumbers.
            is absolutely the only good vinegar for this purpose.

          3. Hi all,

            I don't use white vinegar for cooking but I do use it for laundry and general cleaning.


            1. As a cleaning tool, I got it. I also remember mixing the easter egg dye with white vinegar. Still recall the smell. I still love caramel eggs!

              1. I use it for cleaning my Keurig coffee machine, not for cooking

                1. I use white vinegar as a cleaning agent; i.e., spraying vegetables, spraying the sink and counters, etc. This I will purchase in a large container at Costco.

                  But for recipes, I will use Spectrum organic white vinegar for coleslaw, wanting a clean sweet-sour taste when adding sugar. Anything that is pickled, I prefer white vinegar; rice wine vinegar (white) is acceptable to me, but it is much milder.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Rella

                    I do exactly the same thing. Saves a bunch of money and it's nice to know you're not spraying chemicals all over the kitchen!

                      1. re: c oliver

                        i think that's a northern ireland thing. white vin on your "chips" instead of malt vin. so i've heard anyway.

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            I do that in the Boston area, too. Best way to eat fries.

                      2. It's a great blank canvas for making flavored vinegars. and for cooking where you don't want wine or cidar flavors or color involved.

                        1. I use it in dishes where I don't want the distraction of a more complex vinegar. I use it it some creamy salad dressings and in macaroni salad.

                          1. I have found that I prefer it when I don't want those other flavors. For example, I find malt vinegars too wussy for fried fish.

                            1. Some recipes call for adding white vinegar to egg whites while beating them.

                              1. I use a white malt vinegar in place of brown for some chutnies where I want to preserve a distinct fruit colour - say with a mango chutney where much of the appeal is in the vivid orange.

                                1. White vinegar is the best cleaning fluid ever. I use it with laundry, to disinfect granite countertops, to clean the humidifier and the cat fountain, and to descale the coffee maker. My cleaning lady mixes it with water to wash floors. It smells strong when wet, but then it dissipates, leaving a neutral odor.

                                  And I do use it in cooking (mostly soups) when I need some acid without flavor.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Isolda

                                    Isolda's right- the smell when you're cleaning with it or boiling it fills the house, but when it's gone it takes all the other smells with it.

                                  2. If you don't have any preexisting plumbing problems, every week or so pour ahandful of baking soda down the drain (ALL OF THEM PLUS THE TOILET) and then pour a cup or so of white vinegar in after it. Scrubs out healthy plumb ing and makes things run better longer.

                                    I buy it in gallon jugs for that reason. Plus I like the clean, non-nuanced flavor a lot of times when I cook with it. I have almost every kind of vinegar ever made in a cabinet I call the vinegar hall of fame - but I wouldn't go without a big jug of my white vinegar.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                      I use plain white vinegar in my dishwasher with the powdered soap. We have really hard water where I live and the glasses were getting etched by the minerals. A cup of vinegar at the bottom of the tub right before I start my machine and the glasses look great. I have tried glass magic and such that are WAY more expensive and nothing works liked vinegar.

                                      1. re: jerseydiner

                                        I have used vinegar but never that much. I'm going to try more as you do and see what happens.

                                        One thing,though. I thought that most dishwashers drain standing water (in this case vinegar) before it fills with water. Is perhaps some of your vinegar goiing down the drain?

                                    2. Like so many others on this thread, I use it for cleaning and for some pickling.

                                      1. in Paris at someone's house I had an omelette with a gruyere type of cheese and herbs and topped with a sprinkle of white vinegar, good quality vinegar

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: fara

                                          Wondering if this is a take-off of traditionally using balsamic --

                                          No, I don't know if balsamic was ever used for an omelette of this type, but it sounds possible

                                          1. re: Rella

                                            i don't think so. white vinegar is more subtle.

                                        2. Sorry if anyone else said this and I missed it, but when you're canning things like salsa, when it's water bath canned, but not pressure canned, you need to maintain a consistent amount of acidity, so recipes call for white vinegar, or bottled lemon juice, not fresh squeezed, because they are consistent, whereas homemade vinegars and specialty vinegars are often much less acidic and unpredictable, and can lead to spoilage, botulism, black plague, things like that.

                                          1. With regards to OP's admonition from experiment
                                            there are plenty of us like to start
                                            with a Five percent solution of Acetic Acid,
                                            and embracing all solubles
                                            give start from there.

                                            Such solvent of so many good spicy compounds.
                                            White vinegar absolved
                                            as allows such great play.

                                            1. I had a woman at a tee shirt stand tell me to wash anything new, the first time, with a cup of white vinegar added to 'set' the dye. She said it will keep the garments from ever fading. I do it now with all new fabrics, and it does work!!

                                              And you thought this would be about food.......

                                              1. I use it a lot -- pickled beets, certain salad dressings where the seasonings matter more than the vinegar. I toss avocado with it if I don't have a lemon handy.

                                                This is one of those questions where there seems to be an implication that an old stand-by has been totally superseded by more recently wide-spread-usage items -- that since we can get champagne vinegar and red and white wine vinegar and others, white vinegar is passe. That seems fallacious to me.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: jmckee

                                                  but white vinegar is cheap and accessible-- so it *must* be inferior, and can't possibly be the best all-around pantry staple of its kind, or better suited for a variety of uses, like pickling, than a low-acid vinegar. . .

                                                  now that highbrow cooking oils are commonly available we really oughtta phase out plain vegetable-based oils and deep-fry in truffle oil or walnut oil exclusively. why not use the best and most expensive product possible? we also should just take tenderloins from cows and throw the rest of that useless meat away. ;-P

                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                      No! don't throw away the rest of that useless meat!

                                                      You can save it by coating it in sel de guerande, freshly cracked peppercorns from madagascar, and feeding it to your pets or au pair.

                                                  1. There is a wonderful Norwegian onion sauce to a long boiled meat dish called "Fersk Kjøtt med Suppe" that needs this kind of vinegar. The sauce is sweet and sour in taste and has typically ingredients like this:

                                                    2 ss butter
                                                    1 onion
                                                    3 ss white flour
                                                    5 dl meat stock from the boiled meat (the best is cow with a generous amount of fat)
                                                    1 ss white vinegar
                                                    3 ss sugar

                                                    This sauce is surprisingly versatile for other types of meat like pork chops, entrecote and even some fish dishes.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: jostber

                                                      I have a recipe for Thai or Lao sweet, hot chile and garlic sauce that goes with grilled chicken (or springrolls). It calls for white vinegar and white sugar. The first time I made it, I was horrified to dig out the same vinegar I use for cleaning, but the finished product was bang-on. It tasted better than the bottled stuff but just like the sauces that are served in Thai restaurants where they make their own sauces.

                                                      1. re: jostber

                                                        What's "ss"? The internet is no help. Thanks.

                                                      2. It's essential for making poached eggs.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Bleh. I hate the vinegar taint of poached eggs with vinegar. I'd rather have raggedy looking eggs.

                                                          2. I use white vinegar for cleaning the blue out of my stainless steel pots if Bon Ami http://www.yahwehsaliveandwell.com/bo... doesn't get it out.

                                                            For cooking I use Chinese Healthy Vinegar http://www.yahwehsaliveandwell.com/he... or balsamic. I know it's not the best balsamic but I mainly use it when I want a warming vinegar instead of the Chinese Healthy Vinegar that I replaced China's Secret vinegar with.

                                                            1. Its neutrality lets you add acid as required without flavor. Try making paneer for example or home cottage cheese with balsamic vinegar. Try souring milk (in a pinch to replace buttermilk in a recipe) with raspberry vinegar. Try making mint jelly with cider vinegar. Making dill pickles with red wine vinegar. You won't get a good result (to put it mildly).
                                                              There is a place for plain old white vinegar in the kitchen, both in cleaning and cooking.. A pantry staple IMHO. Cost effective, highly versatile, not to be looked down on. :)

                                                              1. I use it for two things - pickling, as others have mentioned, and also in making horseradish. My homemade consists of nothing but horseradish root and white vinegar, it doesn't even need salt. And it will blow the top of your head off when it's fresh!

                                                                1. For holidays, my mom or I always make German Potato Salad. I've tried tweaking the recipe but nothing is as good as my great-grandmother's recipe that calls for white vinegar.

                                                                  1. It's handy for making cheese, especially when you don't want something flavored like lemon or buttermilk.

                                                                    1. In the laundry, I use white vinegar with my darks to help get rid of the cat hair. It comes out in the lint trap in the dryer -- I guess the vinegars makes it less likely to stick.

                                                                      In cooking, a little bit in the water when poaching eggs keeps the eggs from separating all over the pan. I know it's an old trick but it works.

                                                                      1. i tend to use it for filipino chicken adobo - mix it half and half with soy sauce, a bay leaf, some peppercorns and a few crushed garlic cloves and my secret ingredient, a squirt of honey - throw in some chicken thighs, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 mins or till cooked through, pretty delish! i tend to also throw in some chili flakes/peppers/sauce whatever is on hand...served on white rice.
                                                                        of course you can play around with different types of vinegars.

                                                                        also use it to clean out my coffee maker. looking forward to using it in cleaning applications.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: pie22

                                                                          You know how restaurants have little spray bottles containing some horribly blue mixed water and go around supposedly cleaning up and 'disinfecting' tables and seats (notably sometimes with the same rag!).

                                                                          I do the same with a spray bottle of straight vinegar. I spray counters or sinks with it. I always feel good about it :-))

                                                                          I even keep a spray bottle in a bathroom.

                                                                            1. re: OCEllen

                                                                              Well, thank you! That makes my day a little happier.

                                                                          1. Half a cup of white vinegar on a thistle plant in the yard or garden makes it disappear.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: sr44

                                                                              Goldfinch birds love thistle seeds. The plant comes up in our yard; DH and I have a debate whether to discard it because it does multiply. Thistle seed is expensive, too.

                                                                              1. re: Rella

                                                                                Thistle is the nastiest weed we've ever had. Even with leather work gloves you could still only pick it up by the roots.

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Formidable too! They get six feet tall. So pretty if they are not in the way. Good for butterflies. Artichokes are thistle cousins, FYI.

                                                                                  1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                                    I had a horse who could very carefully and delicately pick out the "flower" without getting poked.

                                                                            2. if you want to use white vinegar for fun or recreational uses, you can take the vinegar and put it in a plastic water bottle and fill it 1/4 full. then take some saran wrap and put that over the opening of the bottle. push it down a little ways using your finger or if its too big us the end of a fork or spoon. when you've pushed the wrap down a little ways in, fill it with baking soda. when you've done that, close off the top of the wrap (just pull the ends together) and put it in the bottle with the vinegar in it. once you've done that, put the lid on the bottle, go outside and find a hard wall or a hard fence and shake the bottle a lot. this will make the baking soda in the wrap spill out and into the vinegar causing a reaction. when the pressure of the bottle is hard, throw it against a wall and watch the fun.

                                                                              1. White vinegar is an excellent drain deodorant.

                                                                                1. An oyster shucker at the Union Oyster House in Boston once told me that a little white vinegar and a little salt are the best way to bring out the flavor of raw oysters for true oyster lovers.

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      Sandwiched between drain deodorant and poor man's mignonette, my comment won't interest many.

                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                        Vinegar and salt are the start to mignonette.

                                                                                    2. re: Veggo

                                                                                      For me, a tiny splash of very good and fragrant Japanese sake on a raw oyster really makes it come alive with flavor. Plus, a few drops of Vietnamese fish sauce is good if you need a little salt.

                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler


                                                                                        I recently bought a bottle of Megachef which I haven't tried yet. Maybe with some oysters. Thanks for the tip, T.

                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                          Thanks for this, c oliver. I am always on the lookout for new fish sauces. The really good ones only require a drop or three since they have great intensity.

                                                                                          For sake, it is the combination of high alcohol (often about 20%) and sweetness that brings out flavors.

                                                                                    3. Great for some Asian dipping sauces, many times Rice Vinegar is to wimpy.
                                                                                      Hot and Sour Soup
                                                                                      Sweet and Sour Dishes
                                                                                      Thai Cucumber salad

                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: chefj

                                                                                        Do you have a recipe for the cucumber salad?

                                                                                        1. re: pagesinthesun

                                                                                          1/2 cup white Vinegar or Coconut Vinegar
                                                                                          1/4 to 1/2 cup Sugar
                                                                                          1/4 cup Water
                                                                                          1 tsp Salt
                                                                                          Combine in a nonreactive pot and simmer till sugar and salt has dissolved and a light nappe is achieved, allow to cool

                                                                                          12oz (give or take) Cucumbers, sliced 1/4"
                                                                                          1 or 2 thinly sliced Shallots
                                                                                          1-4 red Bird Chilis (Prik Noo)
                                                                                          1-2 Garlic Cloves crushed and chopped
                                                                                          Toss with Dressing
                                                                                          Then top with:
                                                                                          1/4 cup roasted Peanuts chopped
                                                                                          Cilantro sprigs

                                                                                          1. re: chefj

                                                                                            That sounds great, I'll give it a try! Do you crush the peppers or leave them whole?

                                                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                                                              slice or pound depending your heat tolerance and whether you want Chili bursts or an overall heat.

                                                                                          2. re: chefj

                                                                                            I agree: in addition to pickling and cleaning, I think white vinegar rules in various Asian dipping sauces, generally combined whit some proportion of sugar. It's a cleaner taste than the other vinegars that Western cuisines like for salad dressing, barbecue, and the like.

                                                                                            Chefj's cucumber salad is like one that I make and love. The chiles give heat, the sugar sweetness, the vinegar tartness. Yum!

                                                                                          3. I use white vinegar in coleslaw because I don't want the coleslaw turning colors.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. I use it only for a kosher pickle recipe I have because that seems to be what flavor works right in that recipe and since it is a fermented pickle I want to make sure the acid is high enough. Otherwise I use some other vinegar and relegate white vinegar to being used for cleaning floors and killing weeds.

                                                                                              Rice vinegar is my new favorite go to vinegar.

                                                                                              1. Here is a potato recipe where the use of white vinegar is prominent. I hope to make it soon.

                                                                                                1. I see this is an old thread revitalized.
                                                                                                  Just wanted to bump "cleaning" back up to the top of the list.

                                                                                                  Cooking related (kinda): I add a splosh to my DW and glassware comes out gloriously spot-/film-free. Much cheaper than the blue stuff.

                                                                                                  A mix of cheap white vinegar and baking soda works beautifully as a basic drain cleaner and deodorizer.

                                                                                                  1. When I first saw this post last week, I immediately thought "classic cole slaw" but didn't respond. Then I bought some kale salad yesterday at my local market, loved it and knew I could easily recreate it ingredient-wise but had to think about the dressing. Then it hit me--it tasted exactly like my mother's cole slaw dressing but without the mayo. The salad had to have white vinegar and some sugar but I'm not sure what else. I'll have to play around with it but I practically inhaled the salad so I've got to try and make it soon.

                                                                                                    1. Forgive moi if this has been mentioned, but it's a great way to finish off chili. Just a splash at the end.

                                                                                                      1. White vinegar is essential for the ultimate summer salad of tomatoes and peppers. I also use it for sour cream dressing on lettuce and cukes.

                                                                                                        1. I think the only thing we use it for is making Good Seasons Italian dressing mix. Tried it a couple times with various 'fancy' vinegars and it always came out terrible.

                                                                                                          1. I use it (1) whenever a recipe calls for it, (2) to clean my coffee maker as directed by the manufacturer, and (3) diluted to rinse my ears in the shower each day as directed by my ear doctor to flush out wax and prevent ear infections which I otherwise have several times a year.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. For cleaning only. There is no other use for it.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. Use it in the washer to soften towels.

                                                                                                                1. Two ways to use white vinegar to kill bugs: I pour a hefty splash in the water I use to wash my homegrown vegetables, with or without a generous amount of cheap table salt. I also keep a mayo or pickle jar with about an inch of white vinegar at the house and in the garden. Just drop in those bugs I don't want to squish in the jar and close the lid. I started doing this when the stinkbugs got really bad. You don't want to squish them, trust me.

                                                                                                                  Another way I use it is to again add to water to soak pineapples before I cut them. I never see bugs on pineapples but it makes me feel better to have made the effort of disinfecting the outside first.

                                                                                                                  1. Uh, what's wrong with white vinegar? I'm serious. The posters here seem to think it's not very good. (I'm not disagreeing. I just don't have an opinion.) I guess that I've used it more or less interchangeably with apple cider vinegar for years.

                                                                                                                    Come to think of it, when a recipe calls for "vinegar," I have avoided using balsamic, tarragon, or wine vinegar because I thought that they would impart a taste not called for in the recipe. But then I would throw in some white vinegar or cider vinegar without a second thought. Funny, I never thought about it before.

                                                                                                                    So what's the low down on white vinegar?

                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                      Good to see this post picking up steam again.

                                                                                                                      I still don't use the white stuff. I prefer cider for most things. When I need acidity I tend to use rice vinegar because it is really cheap in the local Asian markets.

                                                                                                                      I will no longer deny it has a place in the pantry.

                                                                                                                      Thanks for all the input.

                                                                                                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                        Nothings wrong with it.
                                                                                                                        It has its place in the Kitchen along with other Vinegars.

                                                                                                                        1. re: chefj

                                                                                                                          I agree. I always have a gallon each of white and cider vinegar in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                          I also keep a gallon each in the laundry room, and in my home lab for cleaning and when I need a mild acid.

                                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                            Jeez, which shall I do this morning with this white vinegar? Make pickled beets or scrub the floors?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                              I'd much prefer making pickled beets to scrubbing floors. I'm just weird that way.

                                                                                                                        2. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                          I never really had an opinion before because I did not use white vinegar much, but I have read some extremely good ideas from other posters on the thread. I think that I'll probably pick up a bottle of white vinegar tonight, along with a bottle of Pompeian red wine vinegar.

                                                                                                                        3. $2.38 a gallon.

                                                                                                                          I buy it to take the rust off hand tools when soaked for multple days.

                                                                                                                          Waaaaaaayyyy cheaper and safer than EvapoRust.

                                                                                                                          I also make Sauerbraten with it and can/pickle veggies with it from my garden.

                                                                                                                          The vinegar. NOT the EvavapoRust. LOL.