White Balsamic Vinegar and Cooking Vinegars: What You Need To Know

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Have you ever thought about how many different types of vinegar are available to you? Maybe you’ve seen White Balsamic Vinegar in some recipes? 

vinegar bottles on a wood table
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One of the most popular kinds of vinegar is Balsamic Vinegar. There’s something elegant and classy about Balsamic Vinegar. Though it is a common pantry item like salt, pepper and olive oil, its use in recipes has the power to take your dish from ordinary to sophisticated.

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar originates in Modena, Italy, and comes from Trebbiano grapes (1). I make some varieties of Balsamic Vinegar with Wine Vinegar (5). 

Please keep reading to find out the difference between traditional Balsamic Vinegar and its star counterpart, White Balsamic Vinegar, vinegar production, and the many benefits it provides beyond your palate.

Vinegar History

The folktale of vinegar begins around 5000 B.C., following the discovery of wine after grape juice was left idle (1).

The Old and New Testaments mention vinegar nine times (2).

Hippocrates is said to have used vinegar for wound healing in 420 B.C.  Vinegar has been trusted throughout history to have preservation and medicinal properties. Early medical clinicians used vinegar for illnesses, including edema, high fevers, poison ivy, and croup (3).

How Is Vinegar Made?

 The production of vinegar first involves the creation of musts. Must is formed when fruit is crushed into juice with its stem, seeds, and skin included (5). Fermentation occurs when yeasts turn the simple sugars of the must into alcohol (4).

Next, acetic acid bacteria further ferments the solution into vinegar (4). Vinegar ages for several years (depending on the type) with the involvement of wood barrels or wood shavings (4).

balsamic vinegar barrels - how white balsamic vinegar is made

The presence of acetic acid is the number one identifier that a solution is genuinely vinegar and is also responsible for vinegar’s odor and pungency (1).

The Mother In Vinegar

You may have seen or purchased vinegar that contains the mother. At first glance, the mother may look like it’s not supposed to be there. So, what is it? The mother is a nontoxic slime that results from extended periods of fermentation (1). The mother is made of yeast and acetic acid bacteria (1).

How is Balsamic Vinegar Made? 

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is made by the slow fermentation process of Trebbiano grapes.

These grapes are harvested from the vine occurs at the very last minute (1). Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is dark in color because of the caramelization of the grape juice (6). Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is aged for at least 12 years in different types of wooden barrels like chestnut or oak (5).

White Balsamic Vinegar

White Balsamic Vinegar is produced at lower temperatures to keep the solution from caramelizing like the traditional Balsamic Vinegar does (7).

White traditional Balsamic Vinegar (regular balsamic vinegar) and Red Balsamic Vinegar are generally thick and slightly sweet, White Balsamic Vinegar is thinner and slightly less sweet (7). In cooking, White Balsamic Vinegar may be chosen specifically because it won’t affect the color of the desired dish as red balsamic vinegar would. 
Different Vinegars

Many varieties of vinegar exist today because vinegar can be made from practically any fermentable carbohydrate including pears, apples, dates, and molasses (1). Vinegar is produced all around the world.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar is made from fermented apples and commonly used in the United States (3).
  • Black Vinegar is a Chinese vinegar made from fermented brown rice (9).
  • Beer Vinegar is made in Germany (4).
  • Champaign Vinegar is made in France (4). 
  • Coconut Vinegar is made in Southeast Asia (4).
  • Distilled White Vinegar is a commonly known vinegar made from grains and alcohol and mainly used for pickling (3).
  • Fruit Vinegar is made in Austria (4).
  • Kombucha Vinegar is made in Japan (4).
  • Malt Vinegar is a hearty vinegar made from grain and fermented barley. It is often used in England (3).
  • Potato Vinegar is made in Japan (4).
  • Red Wine Vinegar is made from red wine and is popular around the world (4).
  • Rice Wine Vinegar is a Chinese vinegar made from fermented rice that comes in red, white, and black (3).
  • Rose Wine Vinegar is made from rose wine.
  • Sherry Vinegar is made in Spain (4) . It is made from sherry wine (10) and has a nutty-sweet taste (3).
  • Spirit Vinegar is made in Germany (4). 
  • Sugarcane Vinegar is a sweet vinegar made from fermented sugarcane commonly used in the Philippines (3).
  • Tarragon Vinegar is made in the United States (4). 
  • White Wine Vinegar is a delicate vinegar made from white wine and is produced in Turkey and Italy (4).
  • Mirin is a Japanese sweet vinegar that is similar to sake (23).  
types of vinegar list with vinegar bottles displayed

If you have a grape allergy or sensitivity, you may need to also avoid any vinegar made from grapes or wine. 

How to Use Vinegar 

Vinegar In Cooking

Vinegar is most widely known for its use in cooking and other methods of natural food preservative.

Vinegar complements an innumerable amount of foods and dishes. 

Vinegar is commonly used in salad dressings, marinades, meat dishes and bean dishes. It is also used as a condiment and as a part of prepared condiments such as mayonnaise and mustard (4).  Vinegar adds a tasty acidic bite to meals and can even give a balance of sweet and tart, like in this vinegar ice cream topping

Vinegar is used to pickle fruits and vegetables (4). 

White Balsamic Vinegar is an excellent choice for glazes and marinades and gives the balsamic flavor without strong sweet and sour favors (6).

Vinegar is often used to wash chicken and other meats before cooking (22). 

white distilled vinegar for cleaning on a cloth with a lemon

Other Uses For Vinegar:

  • Vinegar is commonly used as a natural cleaning agent.
  • Distilled White Vinegar is effective in cleaning and is sometimes diluted with water to prevent surface damage. 
  • Vinegar is used to cleans stains from bathroom tiles, deodorize laundry, and removes fingerprints from car windows (11).
  • Vinegar can be used on stainless steel surfaces (12) and to clean dirty makeup brushes, leading to healthier skin.

Vinegar Nutrition

Distilled White Vinegar is calorie free and does not contain protein, fat, sodium or cholesterol.

White Balsamic Vinegar has 5 calories and 1.2 grams of carbohydrate

When consumed in relatively small quantities, vinegar is very low in calories. 

Health Benefits of Vinegar

Vinegar has been used for enjoyable flavor and for its many potential health benefits. 

Vinegar Is Antimicrobial

Acetic acid is present in all kinds of vinegar. This organic acid can kill foodborne bacteria, which is why vinegar is used a natural preservative (4). Acetic acid is considered the most lethal to the foodborne pathogen E. Coli (4).

Vinegar Is Antidiabetic and Cholesterol-Lowering 

In a 2004 study (15), the effect of vinegar on postprandial glucose was measured after consuming a high carbohydrate meal amongst a control group (insulin sensitive), an insulin-resistant group, and a group with type II diabetes.

Vinegar consumption increased insulin sensitivity in the insulin-resistant group, reduced insulin spikes in the control group, and slightly improved insulin sensitivity in type II diabetic group (15).

Vinegar is Cholesterol-Lowering

In a 2008 study (16) where normal and diabetic rats ate food containing apple cider vinegar, hemoglobin A1c (a significant marker of diabetic control), was significantly reduced in the diabetic group (16). The normal rat group also had promising results.

Their labs showed significant reductions in bad cholesterol (LDL) and significant increases in good cholesterol (HDL) (16) showing possible heart health benefits of consuming apple cider vinegar.

Vinegar Is Antioxidative

Stress, aging, and disease are some causes of oxidative stress in your body.

Vinegar contains polyphenols that work against this oxidative activity (17).

The antioxidant activity of the phenolic compounds in Japanese rice vinegar is shown to be important in the reduction of cancer risk (18).

Vinegar Is Anti-inflammatory and Weight Reduction

In a 2017 study (19), obese mice ate a high-fat diet for 33 weeks. Vinegar was introduced to the experimental group’s high-fat diet at week 24, while the control group continued eating a regular high-fat diet. At the end of the study, body weight, food intake, and inflammation decreased in the experimental group (19).

Vinegar and Diet 

Is Vinegar Gluten Free?

Most kinds of vinegar are gluten-free like white balsamic vinegar and distilled vinegar. Malt vinegar as mentioned above comes from barley, which is gluten-containing. Some flavored vinegars may contain gluten as well so it is important always to check the label (20).

grilled salmon with balsamic drizzled on top

Is Vinegar Paleo-Friendly?

Some vinegars are fitting for the paleo lifestyle. Avoid the vinegars made from grains like malt vinegar and rice vinegar, and choose very aged vinegars that have a lower chance of having many additives that speed up aging processes (21).

Is Vinegar Keto-Friendly?

If you follow the keto diet, vinegars can be fine for you though some vinegars do have higher amounts of carbohydrates. Vinegars are usually eaten in smaller quantities so they may not have a substantial impact on your daily carb intake. Always check your vinegars’ food label.

Vinegar Recipes

Panera’s White Balsamic Vinaigrette Copycat Recipe

Vegan Strawberry Balsamic Smoothie Bowl

Grilled Cauliflower with Basil and White Balsamic Vinegar

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing (with variations)

Striped Bass in Agrodolce Sauce

Cold Pineapple Soup – made with White Balsamic Vinegar 

Vinegar and Food Intolerances

If you have food sensitivities, food allergies, or food intolerances, be sure to remember that vinegar is made from a variety of ingredients.

Distilled White Vinegar is likely well tolerated by most people. If you tolerate the ingredient vinegar is made from, you may be able to tolerate the vinegar as well. Likewise, if you do not tolerate the food the vinegar is made from, you may not tolerate the vinegar made from it. 

If you need help figuring your what foods are safe for you consider working with a Registered Dietitian or Certified Leap Therapist. 

Bottom Line

Vinegar has been around since ancient times and is produced all over the world. White balsamic vinegar can add soft, tangy flavors to your dish without compromising its color. Many other vinegar varieties can provide favorable and acidity. Vinegar can be a part of many healthy diets.

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white balsamic vinegar and cooking vinegars displayed


  • Dr. Lisa Hugh DHA MSHS RD LDN CLT

    Dr. Lisa Hugh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Leap Therapist. She is a Doctor of Healthcare Administration and has a Master's of Science in Healthcare Administration. As a Food Sensitivity Expert, her passion is helping people with complex medical and nutrition needs find food and groceries that are safe and enjoyable. Lisa enjoys helping clients in her private practice.

  • Gabrielle McPherson MS RDN LDN

    Gabrielle McPherson is a Registered Dietitian and Freelance Writer. Gabrielle has a masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and a bachelors degree in Dietetics. She has worked extensively with pediatrics and works as a freelance health and nutrition writer.

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10 thoughts on “White Balsamic Vinegar and Cooking Vinegars: What You Need To Know”

  1. Love this post! I’ve been a fan of white balsamic vinegar for a long time-in fact it’s my favorite go-to vinegar for salad dressings. I love the hint of sweetness it provides, without being overpowering like traditional balsamic vinegar can sometimes be. So much great information!


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