Pickle juice and apple cider vinegar might seem worlds apart, but they have more in common than you might think.
Below, I’ll compare these two kitchen staples in terms of taste, color, smell, acidity, and why people drink them. Let’s get started with a quick comparison!
Comparing pickle juice vs apple cider vinegar
The biggest difference between pickle juice and apple cider vinegar is their flavor and origin.
Pickle juice is the brine or liquid in which cucumbers or other vegetables have been pickled. It’s typically a combination of water, vinegar, salt, and various seasonings like dill, garlic, and spices, giving it a salty and savory flavor.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV), on the other hand, is a type of vinegar made from fermented apple juice and has a tangy flavor and strong odor.
Both ingredients have their benefits and uses, which I’ll explain in more detail below.
|Apple cider vinegar
|Pickles (cucumbers or other vegetables)
|Acidity (pH level)
|3.2 – 3.8
|2 – 3
|Pale yellow/green and cloudy
|Amber and cloudy
|Briny, sour, salty, and sometimes slightly sweet
|Strong, tangy, slightly sweet
|Pickling, drinking, salad dressings, brining, and marinades
|Salad dressings, sauces, marinades, and baking
|Contains vitamins, minerals (electrolytes), and probiotics
|Contains vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
Differences between pickle juice and apple cider vinegar
Color, taste, and smell
Pickle juice is often cloudy and can range in color from pale yellow to green, depending on the type of pickles and spices used. Apple cider vinegar is also cloudy but has a deep amber to brownish color.
When it comes to taste, pickle juice is briny and savory, with hints of dill, garlic, and spices. It’s known for its salty kick and the tanginess imparted by the vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, is sour, tart, with underlying hints of sweetness from the apples.
And let’s not forget about the smell! Pickle juice has that unmistakable, savory aroma of pickles, which is a combination of herbs and spices. Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, has a pungent, vinegary odor with a subtle apple undertone.
Pickle juice is moderately acidic and falls in the pH range of 3.2 to 3.8, making it less acidic than vinegar. This lower acidity contributes to the milder, more balanced flavor of pickle juice.
Apple cider vinegar is more acidic with a typical pH level of around 2 to 3. This makes it stronger for preserving or pickling foods.
While some pickles may undergo a fermentation process, the resulting juice is primarily a byproduct of the pickling process and may not be as strongly fermented as apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, is made through the fermentation of apple cider by acetic acid bacteria. It has a more pronounced fermented taste and is known for its potential health benefits.
Cooking with pickle juice vs apple cider vinegar
Pickle juice is a unique ingredient because it already contains spices and flavorings from the pickling process. When using pickle juice, you’re essentially infusing your dish with those flavors, making it a great choice for dishes where you want that extra zing and a hint of dill or garlic.
It’s a fantastic secret ingredient for marinades, salads (think potato salad or coleslaw), and even some cocktails like Bloody Mary’s. Just be mindful of the salt content in the pickle juice; you may need to adjust your recipe’s salt levels accordingly. Of course, you can always reuse pickle juice for pickling other vegetables, like cucumbers, carrots or onions.
Apple cider vinegar can be used in a wide range of recipes, from salad dressings to braised dishes, to balance flavors and add acidity. ACV is often used in recipes where pickle juice might not fit, like in baking or when you want a cleaner, sharper acidity.
Can you substitute pickle juice for apple cider vinegar?
The answer is… sometimes. It depends on the specific recipe and your personal taste preferences.
For recipes where the distinct flavor of pickle juice won’t clash, such as in cocktails or certain marinades, it can make a creative and flavorful substitution. However, keep in mind that pickle juice has a more pronounced flavor profile, so it may not work as well in recipes where a milder acidity is required.
Conversely, if you’re out of pickle juice and need a quick substitute, apple cider vinegar can step in, but be cautious with the quantity. Remember that ACV is more acidic, so use it sparingly and consider diluting it with water when necessary.
Nutrition: Pickle juice vs apple cider vinegar
Both are low in calories but offer potential benefits.
Pickles that are fermented contain probiotics, which can aid digestion. Pickle juice is also a rich source of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, making it valuable for rehydration after exercise.
Apple cider vinegar is a popular health tonic, believed to aid in weight management by managing blood sugar levels. It also boasts antioxidants like polyphenols, which may combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
How to store pickle juice and apple cider vinegar
Store opened pickle juice in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness. Make sure the jar is tightly sealed to prevent other odors from infiltrating the liquid. Pickle juice can last several months in the fridge.
ACV has a longer shelf life and doesn’t require refrigeration. Keep it in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight. Ensure the bottle is tightly closed to prevent evaporation and contamination. When stored properly, apple cider vinegar can last indefinitely.
Pickle juice vs apple cider vinegar: The ultimate verdict
The Winner: Apple Cider Vinegar!
While both pickle juice and apple cider vinegar have their unique qualities and potential benefits, ACV emerges as the more versatile player in the game. Its lower pH level makes it a stronger candidate for various uses, from cooking to potential health benefits.
But don’t count pickle juice out entirely! It’s a fantastic choice for post-workout recovery and adds a zesty kick to your drinks and recipes.
The choice between pickle juice and apple cider vinegar depends on your intended use; pickle juice may be better for rehydration due to its electrolytes, while apple cider vinegar is often used for its potential health benefits (like aiding digestion) and culinary purposes.
In some recipes, you can substitute pickle juice for vinegar, but be mindful of the flavor difference and adjust accordingly.
Pickle juice can typically be consumed in moderation and as needed, such as to alleviate muscle cramps or for its unique flavor, rather than on a regular schedule, as there’s no specific recommended frequency for its consumption.
Pickling vinegar is usually stronger in acidity and flavor, so use it sparingly or dilute it with water if substituting for apple cider vinegar in recipes.