Black vinegar is a term for a variety of different dark, full-bodied vinegars used in Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Korean cooking.
All vinegars are the product of fermentation; this aging process differs depending on the vinegar in question. Vinegar can be made from fruit, but black vinegars are generally made by fermenting grains, such as glutinous rice, and aged for at least six months. There are many types of black vinegar, and vinegar itself has been used in China and elsewhere in Asia since at least 1,000 BC.
Chinese black vinegars include smokier sorghum or barley-based vinegar from the north as well as more common rice-based vinegar from the south. As a generalization, black vinegar is most broadly popular throughout the southern parts of China.
There are also variations on black vinegar throughout these cuisines made from different grains like rice, wheat, brown rice, millet, and other cereals; Japanese black vinegar, called Kurozu, is usually a bit milder than its richer Chinese counterparts.
Like all fermented foods, vinegar is extremely beneficial to your gut as well as your health’s overall resilience because of how these foods promote a healthy environment for “good” bacteria, which not only play critical roles in digestion and absorption, but also help “crowd out” dangerous and even deadly germs that your body encounters daily, among other benefits. Eating fermented foods often like vinegar, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, etc. will benefit pretty much every aspect of your health!
You can find many different varieties of black vinegar in Uwajimaya’s sauce and condiment aisles.