The Vinegar Page

Vinegar is a condiment that was favored by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  It has numerous health benefits and flavors everything from salads and cooked vegetables and acts as a meat tenderizer in marinades and more. In a hadith narrated by Ayesha, Muslim and Ibn Maja, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has put blessing in vinegar, for truly it was used by the Prophets before me.”

Vinegar products

Since vinegar can came from a variety of sources (i.e. fruits, corn, etc.) and may be processed as a finished product in a number of ways,  I thought a little explanation was necessary here for those who wonder whether or not any particular vinegar on a store shelf is halal (permissible in a Muslim’s diet) since the alcohol question almost always arises when talking about vinegar, due to the nature of how it is made.

These are some of the most common questions I am asked about vinegar, so I hope the responses are helpful. As always, please refer to the experts such as scholars, food scientists, halal-certification agencies who are incredibly knowledgeable about this topic and have resources where you can gain a plethora of information on this topic. (See resources throughout this page). 

What is Vinegar Exactly? 

The word vinegar literally means sour wine (French derivation)It is basically alcohol that has gone through a chemical process of souring and reached a point where it is no longer alcoholic in nature.  This alcohol can be derived from a few things, but most commonly comes from grapes (wine), apples (hard cider), corn or wheat (grain alcohol).

How is Vinegar Made?

As just mentioned, vinegar is the result of a process of chemical change which renders the final product to be free of alcohol, even though it starts out from a product which is then fermented/alcoholic. For a detailed description of the many different sources of vinegar (i.e. fruits, rice, grains) and a descriptive process of how it’s made, please check out this page.

If a Product Says There is “Wine Vinegar” in It, Doesn’t That Mean It’s Not Halal?  

One of the most common types of vinegar you will find on the market indicating there is ‘wine’ in the product are the balsamic vinegar varieties. Balsamic vinegar is made from special Italian grapes turned to wine then aged further to make vinegar. Often times a company will list ‘wine’ as an ingredient in Balsamic vinegar for one of two reasons:

a) because wine was initially used to turn the product to vinegar;

or

b) because wine was added after the vinegar was made, to add more flavor to their product

From my understanding after attending the Fiqh of Food class through the Al Maghrib Institute,  the only way there would be alcohol in the final vinegar product is if alcohol were added to the final product, AFTER the vinegar has been made. This is not always the case, but may be found more often in high end gourmet types of vinegar. However, to be certain, the best thing to do is to call each company individually because you may not be able to ell from the ingredient list. Typically, there is no issue with apple cider vinegar or white distilled vinegar, which is made from corn. Allahu’alim (God knows best). 

For further information, read this article by IFANCA: Is Vinegar Halal?

Is All Vinegar Good for Consumption? 

There are some types of vinegar which are just simply delicious to add to salads, include as part of a marinade or to take daily as natural digestive. Rice vinegar is great in Asian dishes to give it an authentic flavor. 

The one vinegar I hesitate to eat, but buy it in bulk quantities for cleaning my entire home in a non-toxic way is distilled white vinegar. Read more about why at this link on Dr. Mercola’s website. It involves the possible consumption of GMOs.

Where Can I Get Good Quality Vinegar Products? 

Heinz Distilled White Vinegar-for cleaning- Find it in bulk at Costco stores.

Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar- online and in many health food stores.

Date Vinegar- online at www.datevinegar.com and in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets.

Trader Joe’s Apple Cider Vinegar- why, Trader Joe’s stores, of course.

About Balsamic Vinegar

There is a bit of a debate about whether or not balsamic vinegar is halal because it is derived from grapes turned to wine then to vinegar. Upon verification there is not alcohol added to the final product, the debate still goes on due to differing opinions from the various madhab (schools of thought).  Personally, I am still learning about this difference of opinion. What I understand is that all vinegar comes from alcohol and that alcohol when exposed to air over time is converted into an intoxicant-free product called vinegar. That may be over-simplifying the issue, of course so I suggest every individual do a little research and talk to scholars who are familiar with Sahih ahadith and are also familiar with the food science industry, as well. 

Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinegar- I called Trader Joe’s and asked about the addition of wine and so far they do not add wine to the final product, however, I will be calling every once in a while just to make sure they haven’t changed that status.

Halal-Certification Agencies in the United States

Halal Food Standards Alliance of America

Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA)

Shar’i Zabiha Certification of Rahmat-E-Alam Foundation 

 

 

32 comments

  1. Wonderful article,Yvonne…so much good information.Thank you for sharing!

  2. Jazakallah for this post Yvonne….very informative! I’ve shared it on my FB page. I have some calls to make now to find out if what I have in my pantry is Halal or not. Inshallah it will be fine.

  3. Many thanks for your “plain english” explanation which cleared my halal/haram issue (whist trying to use balsamic vinegar in a recipe) in less than a minute. After dredging the internet for some time i was none-the-wiser on the issue as there was so much varied and often conflicting imformation out there.

  4. Thank you Sooo much about this blog…..u have really clarified this issue…

  5. Jazaakallah for this explanation – I’m always so worried when buying vinegar. Thanks for the note about eating distilled white vinegar as well! Keep blogging!!

  6. Dear sister Yvonne,

    According to the Muslim Consumer Group, Pompei’s Balsamic Vinegar has “presence of of large amounts of alcohol”. I was wondering if you could verify that.

    Thanks

  7. Sorry I made a typo. I meant Pompeian’s imported balsamic vinegar.

  8. @Aasim- as I mentioned in the post, I cannot veirfy any particular brand as not only will their formulas vary, but even if they don’t contain alcohol at one time, they might later and vice versa. You would have to call each company to ask them what they are doing to either leave the vinegar as-is, or adding alcohol to the finished product.

    I hope this helps!

  9. As Yvonne stated, vinegar should not contain sizeable amounts of alcohol unless added afterwards. That being said, most vinegar has residual alcohol of 0.2%-0.3% by volume because the vinegar fermentation process cannot be taken too far–if all the alcohol is consumed the vinegar-making bacteria begin to metabolize the vinegar into water.

    If the vinegar is from the EU, by EU law (EN 13188:2000) it cannot contain more than 0.5% alcohol if it is not wine vinegar and no more than 1% if it is wine vinegar. This is way lower than can ever get anyone intoxicated but I am not a Halal expert so don’t know if there are any problems with this. There is one special case though where specialized vinegars which use wine vinegar as a base can have up to 3% alcohol per EU rules. Not sure what those would be though.

  10. What about bortelli`s?

  11. Hi, Yvonne. I recently went to Trader Joe’s to buy balsamic vinegar after reading this article but I found that they have several different kinds. Which one specifically do you use? There were some from “Trader Giotto’s” and there was one called a “balsamic glaze” and a few more (I believe they had 4 or 5 in total). Thanks.

  12. Great article!thanx for the post.really help me a lot!:)

  13. Thank you for your useful article.
    I am facing another similar problem: in many recipes red wine is an ingredient. If the food is cooked in a way that it loses its alcoholic attribute is the food halal then?

  14. Prophet asws praisef vinegar but not all kinds of it… still some of them are haram ( those which are made out of wine ).
    It was reported that two brothers inheritated a big quantity of wine, and asked the prophet weather they should turn it out to vinegar.. the prophet said they should throw it away.
    So only the vinegar which is made from a continuous process from a natural non haram ingredient are halal.
    Please refer to skheikh Muhammad salah or asim al hakeem who are explaining in a more detailed way the ruling on vinegar.

  15. Hi! Thanks for the great explanation! What about red wine vinegar? So many recipes out there call for it, and it’s so hard to find a good substitute.

  16. Assalam alaikum,

    As it is the duty of all muslims to help each other and as we all understand that whatever is said will be accountable for I think it is important that you add the source of hadeeth you quote . Also in light of what Reginald has said regarding some percentage of alcohol being left during the proccessing of all vinegars we should really think again about using them.
    An Nawawi’s Forty Hadith
    An Nawawi Hadith Number 010 : The Authority Of Abu Hurairah
    Nawawi’s Forty Hadith

    The messenger of Allah said : “Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the faithful to do that which he commanded the messengers, and the Almighty has said: “O ye messengers ! Eat of the good things and do right”. And Allah the Almighty has said : “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you” Then he mentioned [the case of] a man who, having journeyed far, is dishevelled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky [saying] : “O Lord! O Lord!” – while his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered!”

    Reporters.
    Related by Muslim.

    An Nawawi Hadith Number 011 : The Authority Of Al-Hasan bin Ali, grandson of the messenger of Allah
    Nawawi’s Forty Hadith
    Print
    I memorized from the messenger of Allah his saying : “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.”

    Reporters.
    Narrated by Termithi and Nasaee, and Tirmithi said it is true and fine hadith.

    An Nawawi Hadith Number 012 : The Authority Of Abu Hurairah

  17. Eeman, thanks for the comment. It is in all our best interests to make sure we can distinguish Halal vinegars from others which may be Haram due to high alcohol content. There are some balsamic vinegars with added alcohol which are definitely not halal but the small residual 0.2%-0.3% is present in many mass produced vinegars.

    One opinion, though I am not sure if it is “official”, comes from Muslim Consmer Group here (http://www.muslimconsumergroup.com/news.html) search down for the article “Minute Amount of Alcohol in Vinegars”). Here they state that if a small residual (vinegar (and not added) it can still be Halal. A good conversation to continue.

  18. Dear sister..
    what I have learnt from my elders is..”when in doubt take the harder way out”.. let’s not risk our emaan for few spoons of balsamic vinegar.

  19. Gnei Binthan Hadgie

    Dear Lady

    Assalamu Alaikum…..In Sri Lanka we can’t purchase date vinegar. Can u plz tell me from where I cud.

    Thanx dear

  20. Jazake allah khair , this is truly an awesome article that will benefit many Muslims.

  21. I am just seeming both for blog sites which give independent, nutritious commentary on all difficulties or blogging sites which have a liberal or droppedwing slant. Thank you.. ddegceegebddcebb

  22. I just bought some apple vinegar at a health food store (organic) and I hope it’s halal.I need it for potassium to help lower blood pressure. Any comments about this type?

    • Edith, you can call the company from whom you bought the ACV and just ask some questions not only about the ingredients but about the process. That should help answer your questions for that particular type and brand of vinegar.

  23. i just bought some red paper paste..the ingredient has Cooking Rice Wine..i want to know is it Halal?can we eat that? Thank You

  24. is apple vinegar is halal?i’m confused about it? please reply soon.

  25. Asslaamualaykum warahmatullah sister
    This is very helpful jazaka Allah khair. What can we substitute for the Balsamic vinegar? x

  26. what about red wine vinegar – is this considered halal?

  27. Assalamo-alaikom yvonne thanks alot dear for the clarification…im still a bit confused this brand is turkish and its contents are grape vinegar and balsam ????? What do u think??

  28. Assalamu alaikum,

    Dear Sister,

    I would like to know if apple cider vinegar from “American Garden” is halal or not?
    JazakAllahu khair

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