Rice vinegar: How it differs from other vinegars, properties and how to use it in cooking recipes

Komesu and Kurosu rice vinegar

Vinegar or “ vinum acre ” in Latin, is a product whose value and appreciation by consumers has increased greatly in recent times. And more and more, natural vinegar is sought, vinegar from organic farming . Because food is the basis of good health.

Although the origin of the word is close to “sour wine” it refers to its origin -the fermentation of the wine-, the term is used for the product of the fermentation of any starchy substrate.

Its origins date back to more than 5,000 years BC. Until the 19th century, the natural fermentation of different elements was used according to the regions: in France, wine from domestic grapes was used; in England, malt beer; in North America, apple cider; in South America, sugar cane syrups or molasses; while, in the same way, in Asian countries wine or rice brandy is used.

Rice vinegar is widely used in Japanese cuisine, in its two variants called Komesu (made from polished rice) and kurosu (made from unpolished rice).

Differences with other vinegars

Any solution diluted in fermentable sugar can be transformed into vinegar under favorable conditions. For this reason, fruit juices are the most widely used as raw material.

All vinegar is made by two biochemical procedures that are the result of the action of microorganisms where:

  1. Sugar is fermented into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas -alcoholic fermentation- generating ethanol, and
  2. The action of a large group of aceto-bacteria combines oxygen with alcohol – acetic fermentation or acetification – to form acetic acid.

The subsequent maturation is one of the key processes in making vinegar. As with wine, it is matured in wooden barrels for at least 6 years. Once the maturation is finished, it is filtered, clarified and pasteurized, to finally bottle it.

Rice vinegar is produced, like other vinegars, by different fermentation methods, from two types of raw material: polished rice and unpolished rice.

Komesu is made from polished rice , colorless and with a simple flavor that is usually used for sushi; Kurosu , black in color and with more nutritional value, is made from unpolished rice .

Amos vinegars are traditional and object of study due to their important contributions to health, however they are difficult to obtain, since their elaboration is expensive at an industrial level, therefore, most of the marketed ones are synthetic.

Some of the varieties that are available in Spain as rice vinegar are:

  • Chanponzu : a mixture of vinegar with citrus juice
  • Sudachi Konbu Ponzu : a mixture of vinegar with Sudachi juice (a citrus fruit only found in Japan) and daishi broth (konbu seaweed broth)
  • Tosazu : mixture of vinegar with dried bonito broth ( katsuobushi ) and mirin (a type of Sake used for cooking)
  • Suchi no Su : a mixture of vinegar, sweet sake , mirin , konbu seaweed, salt and sugar, used to season sushi rice.
  • Amazake Su : mixture of vinegar with
  • Sakazu : mixture of vinegar with sake

rice vinegar recipes

Nutritional qualities and benefits

The main benefit of vinegars in general are amino acids, the amount and types of which are also defined according to the raw material.

From the manufacturing process, in which two successive microbial processes take part, this aqueous solution of acetic acid has an acid concentration of between 4 and 8%.

Regarding the percentage of acids, the vinegar that most closely resembles rice is apple vinegar. However, rice vinegar is attributed four times more amino acids than any other vinegar.

That is why rice vinegar is attributed beneficial properties for longevity, diuretics and slimming, since it helps to keep the blood clean and lower blood pressure.

However, the property that makes rice vinegar stand out in Japanese cuisine is its sterilizing and antiseptic capacity.

In sushi, the incorporation of this vinegar to rice is based on the preservation of raw fish, as well as avoiding poisoning.

At the scientific level, some in vitro and in vivo studies have investigated the effect of vinegar in reducing blood pressure, verifying the effects of ethanol from rice vinegar residues in preventing the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) .

On the other hand, other in vivo studies have demonstrated the potential as an antithrombotic food of Kurosu (the darkest rice vinegar made with unpolished rice), based on the effect on plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) that When elevated, it is a risk factor for the development of thrombotic diseases.


In which recipes we can use it

Rice vinegar is used in a myriad of traditional Japanese recipes, both for its flavor and its preservative properties (particularly when they include raw fish).

In addition to preparing rice to make sushi , in Japanese cuisine it is used in traditional recipes such as:

  • Tsukemono : pickled vegetables made with different techniques and ingredients. There is a lot of variety, as they are different vegetables, those made with rice vinegar are called suzuke .
  • Nimono : These are foods simmered, which could translate into stews or stews with meat and vegetables. As in Sunomono (vegetable salad), rice vinegar is used as part of the dressing.


Consulted bibliography

  • “Vinegar Analysis”, Pereyra Cecilia, Prestti Yanina. Chair of Applied Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Engineering. UTN
  • “Control of the production processes, quality and traceability of Sherry Vinegar”, Enrique Duran Guerrero. Faculty of Sciences, University of Cádiz. 2008
  • “El Vinagre”, Madrid Association of Sommeliers.
  • “Rice as a gateway to Shinto”, Marti Gómez Busquets. Facultat D’Humanitats, Pompeu Fabra University. 2016
  • “Functional Properties of Vinegar,” No H. Budak, Elif Aykin, Atif C. Seydim, Annel K. Greene, and Zeynep B. Guzel-Seydim. Journal of Food Science, 2014
  • “Characterization of Acetic Acid Bacteria in Traditional Acetic Acid Fermentation of Rice Vinegar (Komesu) and Unpolished Rice Vinegar (Kurosu) Produced in Japan”, Kumiko Nanda, Mariko Taniguchi, Satoshi Ujike, Nobuhiro Ishihara, Hirotaka Mori, Hisayo Ono, Yoshikatsu Murooka. Food Microbiology, American Society for Microbiology. 2001
  • “Effects of Fermented Rice Vinegar Kurozu and Its Sediment on Infammation-Induced Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) Increase”, Naoki Ohkura, Fumiko Kihara-Negishi, Akira Fujii, Hiroaki Kanouchi, Katsutaka Oishi, Gen-Ichi Atsumi, Masanobu Nagano . Food and Nutrition Sciences, Scientific Research Publishing. 2018

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