Black vinegar

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A bottle of Zhenjiang vinegar.

Black vinegar is dark-colored vinegar used in Chinese cuisine.


One type of Chinese "black vinegar" is Zhenjiang vinegar and similar condiments from southern China.[1] The condiment is an inky-black rice vinegar aged for a malty, woody, and smoky flavor.[2][3] It is made from rice (usually glutinous),[4] or sorghum, or in some combination of those, sometimes including wheat and millet.[5] Black vinegar was traditionally aged in clay pots.[6]

The other important type of Chinese "black vinegar" is the mature vinegar (simplified Chinese: 老陈醋; traditional Chinese: 老陳醋; pinyin: lǎo chéncù) from the central plains of Northern China, particularly in the Shanxi province (Shanxi mature vinegar).[7] It is made from sorghum, peas, barley, bran and chaff and has a much stronger smoky flavor than rice-based black vinegar. It is popular in the north of China as a dipping sauce, particularly for dumplings.[citation needed]

In Sichuan black vinegar is made from wheat bran and flavored with traditional medicinal spices. Sichuan's Baoning vinegar (保寧醋 or 保宁醋) is a famous example. Black vinegar from Fujian is made using glutinous rice and colored red by the infusion of a special fungus.[6]

The Japanese kurozu, a somewhat lighter form of black vinegar, is made only from brown rice. In Korea black vinegar is also made with brown rice.[6]

Taiwanese black vinegar is the most different with more in common with worcestershire sauce than other black vinegars. Its base is sticky rice which is then aged with other ingredients.[6]


Ancient Chinese laborers used wine as a leavening agent to ferment and brew vinegar. East Asian vinegar originated in China, and there are at least three thousand years of documented history of making vinegar. In ancient China, "vinegar" was called "bitter wine," which also indicates that "vinegar" originated from "wine".[8]


Black vinegar has been used as a full-flavored but less expensive alternative to traditional balsamic vinegar.[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ DK Publishing (2010). "Oils, Vinegars, and Flavorings: Vinegars". The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients. New York: DK Publishing. p. 516. ISBN 9780756667306. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  2. ^ Helm, Janet (March 29, 2012). "Is Black the New Black in Foods?". WebMD. Archived from the original on August 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  3. ^ a b Kapadia, Jess (August 17, 2012). "Could Black Vinegar Be The New Balsamic?". Archived from the original on August 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  4. ^ a b Passmore, Jacki (1991). "Black Vinegar". The Encyclopedia of Asian Food and Cooking. Hearst Books via Oregon State University. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  5. ^ Switzer, Christine (October 9, 2010). "Health Benefits of Black Vinegar". LiveStrong. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  6. ^ a b c d Wei, Clarissa. "Black Vinegar Doesn't Just Season a Dish–It Transforms It". Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Sour Story - Shanxi Mature Vinegar". 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
  8. ^ "Throughout history, vinegar is more than tasty". 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2020-06-10.