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Apple cider vinegar or other types of vinegar certainly are a must item in all kitchens all over the world and most people like different types of it to go with salads or as part of dressing ingredient, as well as acting as a meat tenderiser in marinades!
Though it is widely used in food industry with numerous of health benefits, it is also used as cleaning solution for indoor areas with good results. Also, interesting to know that it can be also used as unwanted weed killer! But let’s see first how vinegar is produced and what are the ingredients and by knowing the details of the process of making it, then should it be considered “Halal” or “Haram”!!
Vinegar is almost acetic acid which is made by a bacteria known as acetobacter. This bacteria lives everywhere of our surroundings. If acetobacter gets into wine it can gradually turn the alcohol into acetic acid and finally the process of producing vinegar is completed.
The word vinegar is derived from French, meaning sour wine. Though it is basically alcohol that has turned into vinegar, it should be noted that it is no longer alcoholic in nature.
Now let’s see what cider is and how cider is made:
To achieve apple cider -
first the fruit is finely chopped and then it undergoes natural fermentation process turning the mixture into an alcoholic beverage. It is an ancient process and the drink has been enjoyed by many nations for thousands of years. However as we have discovered the great health benefits of apple cider vinegar (derived from Cider) it has enjoyed a sharp rise in popularity in recent years.
Cider is normally a clear, golden drink, which the color can range from a pale yellow to a dark amber rose. It has a fruity flavor and the taste may vary from very sweet to sour. Sweet cider is considered as “non alcoholic” drink available in market as apple juice by pasteurizing it and adding preservatives to stop the natural fermentation process. If the juice is left to establish fermentation process, then it is called “hard cider” which contains alcohol.
Studies indicate that man has discovered cider long B.C. and over the years improvement of the quality and taste achieved. It was during the sixth century, that Europe considered to be the most skillful brewer, resulting in making beer, similar to beverages and cider.
Normandy became one of the largest producer of cider by the sixteenth century by experiencing different types of apples and therefore making better tasting ciders.
England and colonial America were also among cider producers during this period. In fact producing cider was an important part of each culture, with their own methods of producing. Of course over the years great improvement of better methods has been achieved and today, sophisticated laboratories make it possible to produce high quality of ciders with good taste.
Now, it is interesting to know that some modern Apple Cider vinegars do not even contain any apple cider, for such products, the ingredients says caramel (Burnt Sugar) coloring and dilute acetic acid.
Now, let’s go back to vinegar and see what happens to alcohol involved in early stage of making vinegar.
This alcohol can be derived from a few things, but most commons are:
grapes (wine), apples (hard cider), corn or wheat.
Of course, there are some other items such as date, rice, banana, pineapple, etc…,
Now mentioning wine, then the question arises whether vinegar is Halal or not! Or are all vinegars halal?
To produce pickles and mayonnaise, normally vinegar of white wine, red wine, are used. Some people think they are Haram while others think that they are Halal! Of course the question of being Halal should be answered by experts as there are always some doubts about some food and drinks for the Muslims living in non Muslim countries.
So, referring to some restricted muslim countries having more experts and scholars and considering vast consumption of different vinegar in such countries, one may consider vinegar, including Apple Cider Vinegar to be Halal, bearing in mind that Vinegar as a condiment was favored by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Some references indicates that all fiqh scholars agree unanimously that vinegar produced in an environment with oxygen through vinegar bacteria is Halal, considering that fruits such apples, dates and others which include natural alcohol are used in order to produce vinegar.
Fiqh scholars also agree unanimously that when wine, which is not Halal, transforms into vinegar by waiting, it becomes Halal. (Wahba Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami wa Adillatuhu, III, 541)
According to Hanafi madhhab, it is permissible producing vinegar from wine and consume it. This vinegar is clean and Halal.
The evidence on which describes this view says: "Your best vinegar is the one you produce from wine." (Bayhaqi, as-Sunanul-Kubra, VI, 38, no: 11534)
Generally, Any beverage labelled "cider" is certainly alcoholic and is not Halal.
Now, before going further, would be better to clarify “Sugar alcohol” and sugars found in Haram alcohol. Sugar alcohol is simply a label that indicates the nature sugar in different fruits.
These natural fruit sugars, known as “sugar alcohol” contain carbohydrates and starch which are altered viachemical process. So, one may name it “fruit sugar” instead of “sugar alcohol” and can be considered as sweeteners in food industry. Since it does not contain any alcohol, the Islamic experts have ruled it as Halal.
Let’s distinguish between "sugar alcohol" which is Halal and “hard alcohols” which is Haram and contain plenty of sugar. In producing Haram Alcohol, sugary stuff is fermented. In some other kinds of alcohol, adding yeast turns sugar to alcohol and then by distilling hard spirit or alcohol is produced. So, again this is totally different from "sugar alcohol" which is Halal. Therefore, unlike these hard alcohol drinks, "sugar alcohol" comes directly from fruits and does not cause intoxication and therefore is totally safe and Halal.
There are some frequently asked questions such as:
When a product says there is “Wine Vinegar” in it, doesn’t it mean it’s not Halal?
One of the most common types of vinegar which can be found on the market indicating there is ‘wine’ in the product are the balsamic vinegar varieties. Balsamic vinegar is made from special type of Italian grapes, first turns to wine and then would age further producing vinegar.
When a producer lists ‘wine’ as an ingredient in Balsamic vinegar, it either means wine was initially used to produce vinegar; or wine was added after the vinegar was made, to increase the flavor of such product.
It is said that the only way there would be alcohol in the final vinegar product is when alcohol were added to the final product, after the vinegar is made. This is not always the case, but may be found more often in high-end gourmet types of vinegar. However, to be on the safe side, would be better to call each individual company, as one may not be able to tell from the ingredient list. Typically, there is no issue with apple cider vinegar.
Are all Vinegars good for consumption?
Some types of vinegar are just simply delicious to add to salads, or as part of a marinade. Rice vinegar is one of the most common in Asian dishes to give a better taste.
However, the type which one may hesitate to eat is distilled white vinegar, which normally can be purchased in bulk quantities for cleaning entire house.
Where can I get good quality Apple Cider Vinegar?
One of the best products out there is certified organic Bragg’s Organic raw apple cider vinegar which is unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurized and contains 5% acidity, with the mother:
Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar– online and in many health food stores.
We are the sole distributor of this product in the UK shipping to planet organic, and all supermarkets including Holland and Barrett and the authenticity of the product is guaranteed for you.