I drink a lot. No, not alcohol, that’s not what I’m talking about. But simply a lot of liquids… all kinds of liquids, from my tea first thing in the morning to the juice I drink while sleeping (don’t ask), I’m constantly drinking something. Of course, many of those things are full of calories like pop (or soda or soft drink depending on where in North American you’re from) which I try not to drink often, and even juice so I’m always looking to find something to drink that tastes yummy but isn’t chock full of calories. This article is the tale of how I found such a drink.
When I was living in Korea, in Seoul to be exact as I don’t remember drinking it in Ulsan, I used to wander around grocery stores (and still do). Actually, I used to wander around everywhere as I’m super curious but this tale is about my window shopping habits in grocery stores. You see, I love to cook and I’m curious, so of course, I wanted to see what was available – and not available – in my local grocery store. This led to some adventures – like the time I bought MSG instead of salt – but also led me to find some cool (and often delicious) ingredients.
I also had made friends with some of the employees in my local grocery store (as well as other shops in Bangi-dong but that’s another story) and one of them noticed I was trying to figure out what this bottle I was holding was. You see I had noticed the word Korean word for vinegar (식초, shikcho) but there were pictures of apples. So I trying to decide if it was apple cider vinegar. Of course, apple cider vinegar is quite common in Canada (I made salsa with it, as well as cook with it) but the bottle looked different, so I wasn’t sure.
Thankfully, the grocery store clerk was happy to tell me I was holding drinking vinegar. Um, what? Don’t laugh but that was my first thought. I was fascinated by the concept, especially as I love vinegar in all its forms. I currently have white vinegar, malt vinegar, apple cider vinegar and five different kinds of balsamic vinegar in my kitchen – and yes, I use them all, as well as drinking vinegar in my fridge.
So a vinegar I was supposed to drink… I had to try it.
And try it I did. Buying first the apple flavoured one and then going back and trying all the others in my local shop. I was hooked. Of course the low-calorie count was a bonus but really, it was the taste (and the bit of a bite that one expects from vinegar) that hooked me.
Fast forward a few years and I’m wandering around a Korean grocery store in Toronto and I stumble upon black raspberry (복분자, bokbunja) drinking vinegar. Yay! Now if only I could find bokbunja-ju (복분자주, Korean black raspberry wine) in Toronto but I digress… again. I was happy to be able to add it back into my stable of drinks.
So now you know the story, why do I like it?
Well, I’ve already mentioned some of the reasons but the main reason is the flavours, of course. It’s delicious. My favourite varieties so far are the apple, pomegranate and black raspberry but I have liked all those I’ve tried. I drink a lot of water with either freshly squeezed lime or lemon (I prefer lime but like both) so the tang in drinking vinegar suits my palate nicely.
Plus, while I’m not sure about all of the health benefits touted, it does seem to keep me from feeling hungry so I tend to drink it after coming home from work or after dinner so I don’t snack in the evenings.
How do you drink it?
Buy a bottle, pour some into a glass, add water or seltzer (and perhaps some ice), stir and enjoy. Easy, right? The ratio of drinking vinegar to water depends on your taste. I’ve heard of some people who drink it straight – I’ve taken a tablespoon that way in place of doing so with apple cider vinegar but not an entire glass – but most mix it. I personally like it more diluted so tend to use a 1:3 ratio (1 part drinking vinegar, 3 parts water or seltzer) but I think 1:2 is the most common. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works for your palate.
When I lived in Korea, I also used it for salad dressing as I usually use balsamic vinegar here and it was a nice alternative. Apparently, you can make your own – the recipes I’ve seen look quite easy but I haven’t tried yet. Hm…
Plus it’s apparently good for you
Many believe that it’s good for dieting, perhaps because it stimulates digestion, makes one feel ‘full’ so you don’t overeat and is fairly low-calorie. According to some of the articles I’ve read about it, it’s good for lowering one’s blood pressure and can balance the pH levels in your stomach but be careful of drinking too much on an empty stomach as may cause acid reflux or gastritis (vinegar is acidic after all). But like most things, it’s good in moderation so don’t be afraid to try it.
I love the slight fruit flavoured tang of drinking vinegar and the fact that I can control the strength of the flavours (remember it’s diluted by you). Whether it’s truly going to help me lose weight… who knows, but I certainly enjoy drinking it.
Have you tried Korean drinking vinegar? What did you think of it?