Malt vinegar and apple cider vinegar share many qualities and are both widely used in European cooking. A well-stocked kitchen should have more than one kind of vinegar but is one of these two more important than the other? How do they match up? Let’s take a look at how they compare in this edition of the SPICEography Showdown.
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How does malt vinegar differ from apple cider vinegar?
The main difference between malt vinegar and apple cider vinegar is the fact that they have different sources. Malt vinegar comes from malted barley, a grain used to make ale that is converted to vinegar; apple cider vinegar comes from apple cider, an alcoholic beverage made from apple juice.
The different sources are why the two vinegars have different flavor profiles. Malt vinegar has a flavor profile that can be described as toasty and nutty with an element of yeastiness. Apple cider vinegar tastes like the source fruit, which means that it has a little sweetness and fruitiness to go with its acidity.
Malt vinegar has a different appearance from apple cider vinegar. Both are brown, but malt vinegar typically has a noticeably darker brown compared to apple cider vinegar’s amber-brown shade.
Malt vinegar has very few nutrients and few claims are made about its value for health. In comparison, apple cider vinegar is supposedly full of beneficial compounds and can provide major health benefits. The ability to fight cancer and promote weight loss are two of the most commonly quoted effects.
Can you use malt vinegar as a substitute for apple cider vinegar and vice versa?
Malt vinegar can make a decent substitute for apple cider vinegar. While it does have a yeasty and nutty flavor instead of the fruitiness that you would get from apple cider vinegar, that difference won’t be discernible in many recipes.
Most malt vinegars will have a similar level of acidity as apple cider vinegar. Malt vinegar won’t make a good substitute for apple cider vinegar if you are looking for health benefits since it doesn’t appear to contain many nourishing compounds.
Apple cider vinegar can make an excellent substitute for malt vinegar. The fruitiness will work in most of malt vinegar’s applications, and it will be an upgrade in some instances since it doesn’t contain gluten, which is present in malted barley.
Its gluten-free status makes it an excellent malt vinegar substitute for people who suffer from celiac disease or other conditions where gluten consumption causes health problems. Apple cider vinegar will also make a good substitute if you consider malt vinegar’s flavor to be too intense.
When should you use malt vinegar, and when should you use apple cider vinegar?
Malt vinegar is the main vinegar used in the United Kingdom. As such, it is associated with classic dishes like fish and chips. You will want to use it in British recipes and on potatoes since its nutty flavor is said to pair particularly well with the tuber. It is also versatile enough to be used in salad dressings and for marinades.
Apple cider vinegar is a great option in any dish that will benefit from the flavor of apples. The apple flavor is believed by many to pair well with pork, which is why apple cider vinegar is a popular braising liquid for pork roasts. It is also a good addition to vinaigrettes and chutneys.