Coconut vinegar has long been a staple part of Asian cookery, and it is swiftly increasing in popularity around the rest of the world. This versatile ingredient adds a subtle flavor to food, as well as packing many health benefits.
But what if your grocery store doesn’t stock this ingredient? What is the best substitute for coconut vinegar? You can use other kinds of vinegar such as white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, and apple cider vinegar as a substitute for coconut vinegar. If you are avoiding vinegar altogether, then lemon juice is also a good substitute.
Got a recipe that asks for coconut vinegar, but your cupboard is bare? Don’t panic, these substitutes will make sure your dish still tastes delicious! Let’s take a look at the 5 best substitutes for coconut vinegar and how to use them.
What Is Coconut Vinegar?
Just when you think that there couldn’t be anything else that is made from coconuts, along came coconut vinegar!
Coconut vinegar is an ingredient that is starting to appear more frequently in recipes around the world, but many people may have never come across this unusual product before.
Coconut vinegar is made from sap that has been collected from the blossom of coconut palms.
The sap is the liquid that runs inside the stalks, leaves, and trunks of plants and trees, transporting liquid and nutrients to every cell of the plant.
This liquid is packed full of incredible benefits, and also tastes amazing!
The process of turning coconut sap into vinegar has two stages. The first of these is to ferment the coconut sap, to turn the sugars into alcohol.
The alcohol is then converted to acetic acid using a very specific bacterial reaction. It is the acetic acid that gives vinegar its distinctively tangy flavor.
What Does Coconut Vinegar Taste Like?
Most of our favorite coconut products are relatively sweet—coconut milk, desiccated coconut, coconut cream…
This is because coconut flesh contains natural sugars, which add a gentle sweetness to whatever products are made with it.
That is, except for coconut vinegar! This is because all the natural sugars in the coconut sap have been fermented into alcohol and then turned into acetic acid. This means that no sugars are remaining in the final product.
So, coconut vinegar is going to have the tart flavor that we expect from every type of vinegar out there. But what does it actually taste like?
Underneath the tartness, coconut vinegar has a very subtle and mild flavor. It is slightly nutty in taste and has a cloudy appearance.
In comparison to other kinds of vinegar, coconut vinegar is less tangy and tends not to overwhelm other flavors.
How Is Coconut Vinegar Used?
Coconut vinegar is one of the mildest kinds of vinegar available, and it blends well with other delicate flavors. This makes it great for salad dressings, pickles, marinades, and vinaigrettes.
When used in cooking, coconut vinegar adds a sour flavor and also enhances the flavor of other ingredients. It is a key ingredient in Goan dishes such as vindaloo and sorpotel, as well as the alcoholic drink coconut feni.
Many people drink coconut vinegar daily to reap the benefits of its healthy properties. The best way to do this is to dilute it with water and add a teaspoon of honey for sweetness.
What Are The Benefits Of Coconut Vinegar?
Fans of Asian cookery love coconut vinegar for its mild and nutty flavor. In dishes where the aim is a delicate flavor, coconut vinegar will not overwhelm the other ingredients.
This means it can be used to add a hint of sharpness, without the tangy kick we come to expect with vinegar.
However, coconut vinegar is not just a useful ingredient, but it also has many health benefits:
- Contains probiotics and acetic acid, to promote digestive health.
- It may help to lower cholesterol, protecting against heart disease.
- Acetic acid can reduce hunger, helping to increase body fat loss.
- Acetic acid also helps to reduce blood sugar levels, protecting against diabetes.
- Coconut vinegar is rich in vitamins and minerals, contributing towards a healthy, balanced diet.
The 5 Best Substitutes For Coconut Vinegar
So now we’ve got you all excited about coconut vinegar, we need to turn our thoughts to what you can use as a substitute for this versatile ingredient.
There are plenty of options available, so don’t be disheartened if your grocery store doesn’t have any coconut vinegar in stock!
Here are the 5 best substitutes for coconut vinegar:
1. White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar has a gentle and mellow flavor and can be a very good substitute for coconut vinegar. The background flavor of white wine vinegar is very slightly fruity, and it works well in poultry and seafood dishes.
In terms of strength, white wine vinegar is around the same level of tanginess as coconut vinegar and can be substituted on an equal basis.
The flavor of white wine vinegar will be easily overpowered in red meat dishes, but it will work well in pickles and marinades.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Made from fermented apples, apple cider vinegar can make a great substitute for coconut vinegar.
This vinegar has a fruitier flavor and is not as nutty as coconut vinegar. However, apple cider vinegar has about the same level of tanginess and can be used in the same quantities as coconut vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar would be a great coconut vinegar substitute for both sweet and savory dishes. It also works well in marinades and pickles and is one of the most versatile store cupboard vinegar available.
3. Lemon Juice
If you find the tangy flavor of vinegar unpleasant, you might be looking for a vinegar-free substitute for coconut vinegar.
Lemon juice can work very well in place of most types of vinegar, giving a hint of sourness without the flavor of vinegar.
Lemon juice is quite concentrated and has a strong flavor. Start by halving the amount for your recipe, and add more if needed.
4. Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and has a delicate flavor. It is a popular ingredient in Asian cooking and makes a handy substitute for coconut vinegar.
There are several types of rice vinegar, all with different flavor profiles. The one closest to coconut vinegar is white rice vinegar, although the other varieties would all be acceptable substitutes.
5. Sherry Vinegar
Another wine-based vinegar, sherry vinegar has a distinctive smoky, woody flavor. This originates from the oak barrels in which sherry is aged.
As with white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar has a slightly fruity flavor, which can work well in both sweet and savory dishes.
Now that we’ve gone over the best substitutes for coconut vinegar, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
How do you make coconut vinegar?
If you want to make coconut vinegar at home, it is actually a fairly simple process! And no, you don’t have to find a coconut palm and extract the sap, as we can use coconut water instead.
You will also need a mother vinegar. This is vinegar that has not been pasteurized, and still contains the yeasts necessary to create acetic acid.
Take 4 cups of coconut water and add 1/4 of a cup of sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Pour the liquid into a glass jar and cover it with fabric to allow it to breathe. Leave this in a warm place for around a week to ferment.
Next, add one tablespoon of mother vinegar, and place the jar in a dark cupboard for around 2 months. The bacteria in the mother will get to work on the alcohol, and create delicious coconut vinegar!
Can I use white vinegar instead of coconut vinegar?
White vinegar can be an acceptable substitute for coconut vinegar, but you may need to make some adjustments to your recipe.
White vinegar is relatively neutral in flavor and will give you the tartness that any vinegar adds to food. However, it can be quite sharp, so it is a good idea to halve the amount of vinegar that you use.
If using white vinegar instead of coconut vinegar, you may want to add some coconut flavor to your dish, such as coconut milk or coconut extract.
Is balsamic vinegar a good substitute for coconut vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar has a very rich and intense flavor and bears little similarity to the delicate taste of coconut vinegar.
Created from the skins of grapes after they have been pressed, balsamic vinegar is thick, dark, and viscous, unlike the cloudy white color of coconut vinegar.
These two kinds of vinegar are so different that it can be hard to see how they could be used to substitute each other. However, in a pinch, any vinegar will do!
When using vinegar it is normally the tart, sharp flavor we are looking for, and the more subtle sub flavors are an added bonus.
So, if you have no other vinegar at all, then balsamic vinegar could be used as a substitute for coconut vinegar. But given a choice, we’d opt for something lighter and less intense, like apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
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