What is cane vinegar and what are its uses?

Cane vinegar is obtained from sugar cane. It is widely used in Filipino cuisine.

Last update: 23 September, 2022

Vinegar is here to stay, since despite being discovered more than 10,000 years ago, it is still one of the most widely used condiments today. Among its types, cane vinegar is one of the most appreciated in Philippine cuisine and on the islands where sugar cane is grown.

The most interesting thing about cane vinegar and other similar ones is that, as a condiment, it can be used in cooking to make exquisite preparations, such as the famous vinaigrettes. So keep reading so you can learn about its sensory characteristics, the way it is made and its main applications. Surely when you finish, you will go out and buy a new vinegar for your pantry.

What is vinegar and what is its origin?

Vinegar, from the Latin vinum acremeans “sour wine”. It is acetic acid diluted in water. It is a sour-tasting liquid that comes from the ancestral fermentation of wine and its by-products.

Likewise, it can be obtained from other fermentative sources, such as sugar cane. The latter contains between 3 to 5% acetic acid and small amounts of tartaric acid and citric acid.

As for its origin, it is believed that it arose as an accident when alcoholic beverages began to be produced, especially wine. It is probable that these soured by the action of microorganisms called acetobacteria. There is also evidence that Hippocrates used vinegar as a medicine..

In addition to wine, other raw materials to make vinegar are malted barley, apple juice, orange, bananas, honey and plums. Practically, any raw material containing sugar can be converted into vinegar or starches that can be broken down to their simplest forms.

In the case of cane vinegar, the use is common in the Philippines, where it is also called sukang-iloko, since the region where it is produced is Ilocos. Another trade name for this vinegar is sukang maasimwhich translates as “sour vinegar”.

Apple cider vinegar is formed by the fermentation of fruit, which breaks down its more complex sugars into simpler ones. The process is similar in the other vinegars.

Nutritional value

Vinegar, whatever its source, contains no calories. A 100-milliliter serving barely has 4 calories. Its contribution of sugars, proteins or fats is practically nil.

The sugar is transformed to acetic acid, so it disappears from the final product. The largest proportion is water, almost 98%. Its most prominent minerals are potassium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium. However, they do not significantly cover daily requirements.

From sugar cane to vinegar

Vinegar is the product of two successive fermentations. In the first, yeast convert sugar into alcohol and a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2). This is alcoholic fermentation, which occurs without the presence of oxygen.

In the second fermentation or acetification, the bacteria of the group Acetobacter oxidize alcohol to acetic acid. Furthermore, there is a production of many intermediate compounds that are responsible for the final characteristics.

A raw material rich in sugars for yeasts is sugar cane. This is a grass (Saccharum officinarum L..) native to New Guinea, which has spread to almost all tropical and subtropical regions.

The cane is harvested and crushed to extract the juice, which contains simple carbohydrates, with which white sugar, brown sugar and molasses are made. Vinegar is also obtained from the cane juice. For this, it is boiled over low heat until a syrup is obtained, which is then subjected to fermentation to transform it into alcohol.

To obtain cane vinegar, alcohol is oxidized by Acetobacter up to acetic acid, maintaining the control of the pH, the total acidity and the count of the fermenting bacteria. In this way, a young vinegar is obtained which is then bottled for maturation and clarification, before filtering, pasteurizing and packaging.

This vinegar has a mild, light and spicy flavor, being less sour than distillates. The quality is variable and its color ranges from dark yellow to golden brown.

Uses of cane vinegar

Usually, Vinegars are used to make marinades, marinades and preserves.. Likewise, they are the complement of sauces and dressings, such as mustard and other cold sauces.

Cane vinegar has the peculiarity that, because it is mild and less sour than the others, it is used in the kitchen to balance flavours. In this way, it is used as a complement to humus, lemon flan, in sweet and sour sauces and to prepare pickled herring.

Some popular Filipino dishes are pork and chicken-based adobo, which is simmered in cane vinegar, bay leaves, spices, and garlic. Another is braised pork leg or paksiw na paw, prepared with several cups of this vinegar. It is also part of marinades and to tenderize meats without significantly changing the flavor.

Its lightness, combined with a spicy sensation, allow you to use it without giving the food a strong sour taste. In this way, it can also be prepared for fruit salads.

By adding cane vinegar to fruit salads, you do not get a sour taste, as you would with other vinegars.

Recipe based on cane vinegar

One of the most popular cane vinegar dishes is the famous Philippine chicken in adobo. For this preparation, the chicken is marinated in cane vinegar, accompanied by soy sauce, garlic and pepper.


  • 1/4 chicken.
  • 2 cloves of garlic.
  • Laurel and chives.
  • 50 milliliters of water.
  • 25 grams of onion.
  • 25 milliliters of soy sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon of soybean oil.
  • 25 milliliters of cane vinegar.
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon of peppercorns.


  1. In a bowl add the cane vinegar to the chicken, along with soy sauce, garlic, pepper, bay leaf and chives. Cover and marinate for 1/2 hour in the refrigerator. After this time, drain the chicken and reserve the marinade.
  2. Heat the oil and brown the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the marinade and bring to a boil over high heat for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat, cover and cook for 25 minutes.

You can serve it with rice. This way you will have an ethnic dish and you will be able to taste the benefits of cane vinegar.

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