What Kind of Vinegar is Best for Pickling and Pickles?

What is the Best Vinegar for Pickles and Pickling?

what is the best vinegar for pickles and pickling

The best vinegar for pickles truly depends on what your pickling goals are.

For example, when choosing I think about what flavors, smells, and textures I want to achieve, what food I’m pickling, and what dishes I want to pair the pickles with.

Good Vinegar Choices for Pickling

Of course, choosing the right vinegar is a crucial part of achieving a delicious pickle.

As you may know, in pickling, vinegar not only provides an acidic environment to preserve the food and ward off the growth of unwanted microbes, but it also adds the delightful tanginess of pickles.

Below I’ve provided my top four choices of vinegar that I use in my homemade pickle recipes.

Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is a popular choice for pickling foods because of its high acidity and milder flavor. If I’m looking to highlight the flavor and original color of the vegetable or fruit, I’ll reach for a distilled white vinegar for its milder taste and clearness.

Malt Vinegar

Malt vinegar is one of my favorite choices for pickling onions and horseradish. Because these vegetables already have such a robust strong flavor, I know that they will pair nicely with the strong and spicy malt vinegar.

Malt liquors and mustard seed, for example, can add a great pickling brine flavor and spiciness to pickled eggs.

Cider Vinegar

Cider vinegar is another favorite of mine and many people who want to add a rich, sweet, and tangy hit to their pickles. The pickle juice that is produced is also just delightful.

I love to use apple cider vinegar in recipes for bread and butter cucumber pickles to achieve that wonderful balance of sweet and tang. Just keep in mind that cider vinegar will darken the vegetables.

Wine Vinegar

Using wine vinegar, such as red wine vinegar, can be a terrific choice for pickling more delicate items such as carrots or cucumbers.

However, it’s important to note that some wine vinegar used for salad dressing is under 5% acidity and therefore can not be used for pickling.

Vinegar must have at least 5% acidity to ensure the shelf stability of the pickled item. The acidity should be marked on the vinegar bottle.

How Does Pickling Vinegar and White Vinegar Differ?

how does pickling vinegar and white vinegar differ

  • Pickling vinegar is a broad term used to describe any vinegar of at least 5% acidity suitable for pickling. It comes from foods such as apples or grains.
  • Sometimes, the term “pickling vinegar” can describe vinegar that is already combined with pickling spice, pickling salt, and desired flavorings.
  • White vinegar refers to a specific kind of clear, crisp vinegar derived from either a mixture of water and acetic acid or from fermenting grain alcohol. If used for pickling, a white vinegar of at least 5% acidity could be considered a pickling vinegar.

Does White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar Taste Different?

White vinegar and apple cider vinegar definitely taste different. I love to use both in varying pickling recipes depending on the flavor I want to achieve.

White vinegar has a sharp, clear taste without a punchy flavor profile. I often use this vinegar for making dill pickles to let the flavors of the fresh dill and cucumbers really sing.

I think apple cider vinegar has a much deeper, complex flavor that is sweet and tangy. The taste feels a bit richer and can be lovely paired with

What Kind of Cucumbers are Good for Pickling?

what kind of cucumbers are good for pickling

The type of cucumber used for pickling significantly affects the texture and taste of the result. When choosing cucumbers for pickling, I look for a few different qualities:

  • The cucumber should be firm and hefty with thin, unwaxy, and bumpy skin.
  • There should be no inward sinking or particularly shiny areas on the skin.
  • The cucumber should be less than six inches long and have a stocky appearance.
  • The cucumber should not be known for its mild taste, like English cucumbers.

Some of my favorite pickling cucumbers are National Pickling, Pickalot, Adam Gherkin, Boston Pickling, Kirby cucumbers, and Lemon cucumbers. They all have the characteristics that I look for with great taste and a wonderful crunch.

How Long Do Pickles Last in the Refrigerator?

how long do pickles last in the refrigerator

Once open, contained in a jar with a tight lid, food safety experts often cite one month as the longevity of opened pickles stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

Can Balsamic Vinegar Be Used for Pickling?

can balsamic vinegar be used for pickling

You can use balsamic vinegar for pickling as long as it contains an acidity strength of at least 5%. This strength is necessary to prevent microbes from forming in the jar. If in doubt of the acidity percentage, the best option is not to use it for pickling.

James Marshall
About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »