When canning our homegrown produce, we want the best quality ingredients. Your go-to brand might not be the best vinegar for pickling and canning. Ready why and how to choose the best vinegar for your recipe below.
Truly, is nothing sacred? If you’ve been grabbing the same vinegar off the shelf for years, not giving it a second thought, it’s time to do a little label reading. Surely a product with the words “apple cider” on the label would be made from…apple cider, right? Think again. Depending on your brand, that jug may contain ‘apple cider flavored‘ vinegar.
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What’s in your vinegar?
Heinz doesn’t address the ‘apple cider flavored’ option on its site, but here’s what they have to say about their clear distilled vinegar:
Heinz® Distilled White Vinegar is made from sun-ripened grain and crystal clear water.
Sun-ripened grain. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But the picture that accompanies that statement shows an ear of corn. And you can bet that corn is transgenically modified. Now, this may not change your buying habits at all. You might not be concerned about the idea of using potentially genetically modified ingredients in your canning. If you are, though, here’s what you need to know about choosing vinegar for pickling and canning recipes.
Related: How to Make Infused Vinegar
Choosing the best vinegar for pickling
Vinegar is commonly used for pickling vegetables. The most critical thing to know about choosing vinegar for pickling is this: Choose a vinegar with an acetic acid value of 5%. This should be stated on the label. If you don’t know the acidity of the vinegar, don’t use it.
Different types of vinegar impart a different flavor and color to recipes.
White distilled vinegar is commonly used in pickling. It’s got a fairly neutral flavor as vinegars go. It’s made by fermenting grains, as stated above. If you prefer to avoid potential GMO ingredients, Spectrum makes a white distilled vinegar that’s labeled as non-GMO.
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice. Its flavor is a bit more fruity than white distilled vinegar. This filtered apple cider vinegar is labeled as non-GMO as well.
You can exchange either of these vinegars in pickling or canning recipes, as long as the acetic acid value is the same.
Heinz now addresses this issue on their FAQ page:
So Heinz has two different apple cider vinegar products; one sourced from apples, the other sourced from corn and flavored to taste like apple cider vinegar.
From what I’ve seen, the smaller glass containers are the true product, while the gallon size jugs are the “flavored” versions. If you’re a home canner planning on pickling, odds are good that you’re reaching for the more economical jug of vinegar without giving it a second thought.