A Brief Guide To Japanese Drinking Vinegar: A Unique Kind Of Vinegar

A Brief Guide To Japanese Drinking Vinegar: A Unique Kind Of Vinegar-Japanese Taste
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    Vinegar has an important place in Japanese cooking. Whereas in the West, it is primarily used as a condiment, in Japan, rice vinegar is extensively used in cooking and it has also been drunk for centuries for its health benefits.

    In this post, we shall explore what Japanese drinking vinegar is (and what it is not), look at its potential health benefits, look at different ways of consuming it, and give some ideas for where and what type you might like to purchase.

    What Is Japanese Drinking Vinegar?

    What Is Japanese Drinking Vinegar?

    Before looking at what drinking vinegar is, it might be worth taking a step back and looking at how vinegar is made. Vinegar is an aqueous solution, in which sugars are converted into ethanol, and the ethanol is converted into acetic acid, giving the vinegar a tart, acidic taste.

    In this sense, making vinegar is just adding an extra step to the sake-making process. rice is steamed and "rice Koji" and water are added. The enzymes in the Koji convert the starch in the rice into sugars. After this, yeast is added which ferments these sugars to make alcohol. Once this is done, acetic acid bacteria are added to the mixture, and this process, called “acetic acid fermentation” converts it to acetic acid, the main component of vinegar.

    This rice vinegar tastes great in your cooking, but if you drank this “as is” for health benefits, you might find it a bitter medicine to swallow. To improve the taste of the vinegar and make it more palatable for drinking purposes, the vinegar is blended with sweeter ingredients such as fruit and/or honey.

    Note that this is different from fruit vinegar. In contrast to drinking vinegar, where rice vinegar is infused with fruit, fruit vinegar involves the fruit itself being fermented and made into vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is an example of the latter type of vinegar.

    History of Japanese Drinking Vinegar

    The practice of drinking vinegar goes back to ancient times. There are mentions of vinegar in the Old Testament and it is said to have been drunk by Hippocrates and Cleopatra.

    Although the history of vinegar in Japan is said to date back to the 4th century when it was introduced to Izumi no Kuni (present-day southern Osaka Prefecture) from China around the same time as the technique for brewing Nihonshu, it is hard to know precisely when people started drinking it.

    There are records, however, of samurai warriors drinking it for health reasons, so the history of drinking vinegar in Japan goes back at least as far as the Edo period. However, what they were drinking then was not the easy-to-drink fruit-infused vinegar drinks available today.

    Health Benefits Of Japanese Drinking Vinegar

    Health Benefits Of Japanese Drinking Vinegar

    The samurai, lacking our current medical knowledge, must have intuitively realized that drinking vinegar is good for you, but scientifically speaking, what are the health benefits of drinking vinegar?

    The acetic acid in vinegar is known to lower blood cholesterol, lower the risk of hypertension, and prevent blood sugar spikes. It is also known to stimulate the appetite, and this can help prevent fatigue during the hot summer months when appetite tends to be suppressed. It is also known to aid the absorption of calcium. Calcium is a mineral known to be poorly absorbed when taken on its own but is vital for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

    Drinking vinegar also promises some cosmetic benefits. Acetic acid is expected to reduce fat synthesis and increase energy expenditure. It promotes peristalsis in the intestines, which helps prevent and improve symptoms of constipation. This will generally enhance the intestinal environment, making skin problems less likely to occur.

    Vinegar stimulates the secretion of stomach acid, making it easier to absorb iron. Women are prone to iron deficiency, and if this condition is left untreated, iron deficiency anemia may occur, making it difficult for oxygen to circulate throughout the body. This can have a negative impact on beauty, such as a pale complexion and loss of luster in the hair and nails. Adding vinegar to a well-balanced diet can help prevent anemia and keep hair and nails in a healthy condition.

    Are Japanese Drinking Vinegar Benefits Health Benefits Overblown?

    But before you start guzzling drinking vinegar down in huge quantities to become healthy and beautiful, a note of caution is required.

    For a start, the amount of acetic acid in drinking vinegar tends to be fairly low. The benefits of taking acetic acid tend to kick in at around 750 mg and you would need to drink quite a large quantity of drinking vinegar to get that much.

    Drinking a large amount may get you a good quantity of acetic acid, but depending on what else is in the concoction, it may lead to over-indulgence on fruit juice, honey, or other added sweeteners thus bringing about negative health effects as a byproduct.

    There are also people who are best avoiding vinegar altogether due to the negative effects of its acidity. These include people with low potassium levels and those people who are suffering from kidney damage,

    Ways Of Drinking Japanese Vinegar

    Ways Of Drinking Japanese Vinegar

    Since vinegar is an acidic liquid, drinking it as is may cause stomach or throat pain. When drinking vinegar as a beverage, it is best to dilute it with hot or cold water, soda, milk, or other beverages before drinking it. If you find the acidity is bothering you, add honey to the vinegar to make it easier to drink.

    Since taking highly acidic vinegar on an empty stomach overstimulates the digestive system, it is recommended to consume it during or after a meal. Further, as previously mentioned, vinegar has an appetite-stimulating effect. For those people aiming to lose weight, therefore, drinking vinegar before a meal may increase your appetite and cause you to overeat.

    As discussed in the previous section, drinking vinegar has health benefits, you should not rush to over-consume it. Depending on the ingredients, you may be consuming a lot of excess calories as part of your “healthy drink”. There is also evidence to suggest that the acid can be bad for your teeth if you drink too much of it.

    As with most health foods, small amounts taken continuously are more likely to bring about long-lasting health benefits.

    Where To Purchase Japanese Drinking Vinegar

    Drinking vinegar is available in many Japanese supermarkets and online stores, but a great place to start is the Japanese Taste website, which has a wide variety to choose from. We have compared some of the best Japanese drinking vinegars below.

    Marushige Migaki Strawberry Premium Drinking Vinegar

    The delicious taste of this unique product makes it a great introduction to Japanese drinking vinegar. Blending a luxurious brand of real Japanese strawberries called Migaki, from Miyagi prefecture, it also infused with strawberry juice for a rich fruity taste. This product is free from artificial additives and caffeine.

    Marushige Migaki Strawberry Premium Drinking Vinegar

    Marushige Migaki Strawberry Premium Drinking Vinegar 500ml


    Marushige Shine Muscat Premium Drinking Vinegar

    This Muscat version from Marushige is another very accessible way of enjoying drinking vinegar. Using real Shine muscat grapes, it combines grape vinegar with rice vinegar, and this mixture is itself infused with added grape juice. This can be enjoyed diluted with carbonated water or used as a base for alcoholic cocktails.

    Marushige Shine Muscat Premium Drinking Vinegar 500ml

    Marushige Shine Muscat Premium Drinking Vinegar 500ml


    Fukuyamasu Kurozu Artisan 2+ Years Aged Black Rice Vinegar

    Fukayamasu is a company from Fukuyamacho, Kagoshima, Kyushu Prefecture. Although this product is not specifically drinking vinegar, it can also be drunk (mixed with soda or water) in addition to its use in sauces and marinades. Made simply from Japanese brown rice, koji, and water, this is a high amino acid drink that your body will thank you for drinking.

    Fukuyamasu Kurozu Artisan 2+ Years Aged Japanese Black Rice Vinegar 500ml

    Fukuyamasu Kurozu Artisan 2+ Years Aged Japanese Black Rice Vinegar 500ml


    Marushige Black Vinegar 3+ Years Aged Premium Drinking Vinegar

    If you are interested in trying drinking vinegar, but feel reticent about investing in a large bottle before you try it, this product comes in an easily accessible 185 ml bottle. Rich in both minerals and amino acids, it is both refreshing and healthy. After the brown rice is fermented, it is aged for at least three years to give it a rich and deep flavor.

    Marushige Black Vinegar 3+ Years Aged Premium Drinking Vinegar 185ml

    Marushige Black Vinegar 3+ Years Aged Premium Drinking Vinegar 185ml


    Marushige Blueberry Premium Drinking Vinegar

    This unique product from Marushige combines the taste of real blueberries and vinegar for a truly luxurious way of drinking vinegar. This drink is free of additives and is a combination of blueberry vinegar, rice vinegar, and natural brown sugar.

    Marushige Blueberry Premium Drinking Vinegar 500ml

    Marushige Blueberry Premium Drinking Vinegar 500ml


    Imagawa Purple Black Vinegar Ancient Rice Vinegar

    This product hails from the Imagawa vinegar brewery in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, the company is very particular about using high-quality ingredients and the “Purple black” in the name refers to the Shikokumai rice used, a brand native to Toyama, with a purple-black surface.

    The company is also very particular about its methods and it uses the static fermentation method, which is used less these days, but which, they believe, gives it a cleaner taste.

    Similar to the Fukuyamasu product, this is not specifically drinking vinegar but can be enjoyed in beverage form.

    Imagawa Purple Black Vinegar Ancient Rice Vinegar 500ml

    Imagawa Purple Black Vinegar Ancient Rice Vinegar 500ml


    Mizkan Grape & Berry Black Vinegar Drink

    This product, as a mixture of apple juice, grape juice, and three types of berries, is really easy to drink. The juice is combined with brown rice vinegar, and as the vinegar content is a whopping 60%, it is very healthy to drink. Mizkan recommends diluting this with water in the ratio of 1:6.

    Mizkan Grape & Berry Black Vinegar Drink 1000ml

    Mizkan Grape & Berry Black Vinegar Drink 1000ml


    Gaining The Health Benefits Of Vinegar In Beverage Form

    The health benefits of the acetic acid in vinegar have long been recognized and drinking vinegar enables you to enjoy its nutritional elements in a highly concentrated form, along with fruit juice or honey infusions that makes it easy to drink.

    As noted, however, more can be less when it comes to drinking vinegar and over-indulgence can result in an over-consumption of calories that can lead to negative health effects. Little and often is definitely the key, and we have described a wide range of infusions that should make it easy for you to get started on your vinegar drinking journey.

    Have you tried drinking vinegar yet? Do you have a favorite fruit flavor to drink it with? Let us know in the comments.


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