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We’ve spoken in great detail about Apple cider vinegar throughout this blog but another very common kind of vinegar is malt vinegar.
In this post we’re going to compare malt vinegar and apple cider vinegar and we’re going to look at the sources of both: how they are made, where they come from, their flavor profiles, and the health benefits of each. We’ll also do a head to head comparing apple cider and malt vinegar.
What is malt vinegar
Malt vinegar is a vinegar made from germinated and dried grains of barley. You may be familiar with the term “malt”, as it’s commonly associated with milkshakes and ales.
What is malting
Malting is a process where the barley grains are first soaked in water(or sorghum or other grains, but barley is the most common and it is used for making malt vinegar). The grains are carefully monitored until they acquire a moisture content of around 40%.
The grains are allowed to germinate to a certain extent. During germination, chemical changes occur within the grains. Grains are seeds, after all, so malting is taking advantage of natural processes to change the flavor.
During germination, the cell walls inside the seed are broken down, the proteins begin to change, and enzymes are released. How much of each occurs will influence the flavor.
Once the seeds have germinated to a satisfactory extent, the final steps are drying and kilning. The wet grains are dried, then roasted in a kiln to give a distinct brown color and toasty flavor.
Varying the length of the roasting process will change the flavor.
How malt vinegar is made
The malted barley is often used to make ales, those of which are quite common and a staple in the United Kingdom and Canada. The ale can then be fermented further by acetic acid bacteria to make malt vinegar.
Malt vinegar is really unique because it has the tanginess of acetic acid(vinegar) and the full-bodied, sweet, and complex flavors of malted barley.
If you’re a fan of milkshakes or ales, you’ll know the distinct taste that malted barley gives. That plus a combination of vinegar is what makes malt vinegar so special.
Malt vinegar is a classic condiment used with fish and chips, or for drizzling on french fries instead of ketchup, and also tastes great on a salad as a sour dressing.
If you like salt and vinegar potato chips, many companies use malt vinegar for the flavoring.
Health benefits of malt vinegar
There’s an article on LiveStrong which touts many health benefits of malt vinegar. Some of those include:
Controlling blood sugar
Vinegar can help regulate your blood sugar by increasing the amount of insulin activity in your skeletal muscle. Vinegar also helps reduce the GI of foods, so your blood sugar(and insulin) won’t spike quite as high. Additionally, it can help you feel full faster and for longer periods of time.
There’s no set amount of vinegar you should consume, but just adding some in your food(like in a salad or a soup) can make a small difference.
I should point out here that dipping a candy bar in vinegar and then eating it(as unappetizing as that sounds) will not prevent your sugar from spiking! Everything must be consumed in a balance.
Vinegar is known for its anti-oxidant properties. Anti-oxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals. One notorious side effect of free radicals is the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which increases plaque buildup in your arteries.
Having a diet rich in antioxidants helps reduce the LDL oxidation and thus reduces the amount of plaque deposited on your artery walls.
Malt vinegar has also been shown to favorably manipulate your gut bacteria, which we are only now beginning to understand. Your gut bacteria have a huge impact on your digestion and your overall health.
What is apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made from fermenting hard cider into vinegar. Apple cider vinegars start out as apples. After being harvested, the apples are pressed to make apple cider.
Note: it’s worth pointing out that pressed, unfiltered apples are apple cider, and if the resulting liquid is further filtered and possibly sweetened, it’s what you commonly see as apple juice on grocery shelves.
Apple cider is quite popular and is very widely available during the autumn months at the peak of the apple harvest. Unlike apple juice which can really last year round, cider is best enjoyed when it is freshly pressed.
If you ferment apple cider, you’ll end up with hard cider, which is apple cider with alcohol. Fermenting hard cider further with acetic acid bacteria yields apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has the distinct sweetness and aroma of apple juice/cider, combined with the acidity of vinegar.
Health benefits of apple cider vinegar
There is no shortage of literature on the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is a potent preservative and has been used since ancient times for disinfecting wounds. Adding vinegar to food helps lower the pH and inhibit the growth of bacteria, which is why vinegar is so useful for making pickles.
Like malt vinegar, apple cider vinegar also helps regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels, and having apple cider vinegar with a high carb meal can minimize the insulin and sugar spike that usually follows.
Additionally, a study showed that people who regularly consumed apple cider vinegar lost more belly fat than those who did not.
Apple cider vinegar is a potent anti-oxidant as well, as we discussed above.
Finally, some studies have shown that apple cider vinegar has a positive effect in combating cancer but there is no solid evidence yet and the studies are only indicative, not conclusive.
Malt vinegar vs apple cider vinegar for cooking
Finally, let’s talk about malt vinegar and apple cider vinegar when it comes to cooking.
In both vinegars, the essential component is the same: they both contain acetic acid, or vinegar. So the sour, tangy flavor will be the same across both vinegars, but the rest of the flavors, which they get from their origins, will differ.
Malt vinegar is commonly used:
- for seasoning fish and chips
- for dipping french fries
- for meat marinades
- for making pickles
- for cole slaw
- for virtually any sour salad dressing
You can actually use apple cider vinegar for all of these things too, but the flavors make all of the difference.
Use apple cider vinegar when you want the sweet, light taste of apples.
Use malt vinegar when you want the bold, bodied taste of malted barley.