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The Best Vinegar in China Ends in Shanxi

As a foodie, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting ingredients to elevate my dishes.

And I have to say, Shanxi vinegar has quickly become a staple in my kitchen.

But what exactly is Shanxi vinegar and why is it considered the best in China?

What Is Shanxi Vinegar?

Shanxi vinegar, also known as “black vinegar“or “Shanxi mature vinegar” (simplified Chinese: 山西老陈醋 lǎo chéncù).

Mature vinegar is like a fine wine, aged to perfection!

It’s vinegar that’s gone through a longer fermentation and aging process to develop a richer, more complex flavor than regular vinegar.

It is made from sorghum, barley, and peas that are fermented for several years.

This process gives the vinegar its rich and complex flavor, with notes of sweetness, acidity, and a hint of smokiness.

It’s no wonder why it’s been a cherished ingredient in Chinese cuisine for centuries.

Why Is It The Best In China?

  • Jinyang (now Taiyuan: capital city in Shanxi province) is the birthplace of Chinese vinegar.
  • Shanxi mature vinegar has a history of more than 3,000 years, the older the vinegar is, the more fragrant and delicious it is, and it is tasteful.
  • It does not mold in summer and does not freeze in winter.
  • Shanxi mature vinegar does not need to be labeled with a shelf life, and it can only be called authentic mature vinegar if it has an acidity of 6 degrees.
  • The aging period for vinegar is usually 20-30 days and around one year, but only Shanxi vinegar’s aging period is generally 9-12 months, some can be as long as several years.

What Are The Health Benefits?

  • It can stimulate the appetite, help digestion and absorption;
  • It has a good sterilization and bactericidal effect and can effectively prevent intestinal diseases, influenza and respiratory diseases;
  • It can soften blood vessels and lower cholesterol, which is a good remedy for hypertension and other cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases;
  • It can play a good protective role on the skin and hair. Chinese ancient medicine has records of using vinegar as medicine, which is believed to have the effect of hair growth, beauty, blood pressure reduction and weight loss;
  • It can eliminate fatigue, promote sleep and alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness;
  • It can also reduce the concentration of alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract and blood, and play a sobering role;
  • It also has the function of softening chicken bones and fish fins and promoting calcium absorption.

How Do Chinese Use Shanxi Vinegar?

  1. As a marinade: vinegar is often used to marinate meats, such as pork or beef, before cooking to add flavor and tenderize the meat.
  2. As a dipping sauce: vinegar is often mixed with soy sauce and other seasonings to create a dipping sauce for dumplings, steamed buns, or other steamed or fried foods.
  3. In stir-fries: vinegar is sometimes added to stir-fry dishes to add a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, particularly when cooking seafood.
  4. In soups and stews: vinegar is sometimes added to soups and stews to enhance the flavor and add a bit of acidity.
  5. In braised dishes: vinegar is often added to braised dishes such as red-cooked dishes, to add depth and flavor to the braising liquid.
  6. In pickling: vinegar is used in pickling vegetable and fruits in China, it can keep the ingredients fresh, and also add a sour taste.
  7. In sauces: vinegar is used in a variety of sauces, such as hoisin sauce, oyster sauce and sweet and sour sauce, to balance out the sweetness and add acidity.

How To Make Shanxi Mature Vinegar?

Here is the traditional way of making shanxi aged vinegar:

Fun Fact:

In Jinzhong, Shanxi, there is currently the world’s largest vinegar lake – Laoxi Vinegar Lake.

This vinegar lake can hold 15000 tons of vinegar, enough for Shanxi people to eat for one month.

From this, we can also see the position of vinegar in the daily lives of Shanxi people, and the long history of vinegar culture in Shanxi.

Top 3 Shanxi Vinegar Brands To Buy From

Some popular brands of Shanxi vinegar that are available for purchase in foreign countries:

Ninghua Fu-宁化府

Ninghua Fu is a century-old enterprise with deep cultural heritage.

Nowadays, local people in Shanxi are still queuing up to make vinegar every day at the doorstep of the Ninghua Mansion factory.


The Shanxi Shuita Vinegar Co., Ltd. is located in Qingxu County, and is one of the first national agricultural industrialization key leading enterprises and is also the current large-scale Shanxi old vinegar production base in China.

The company also has its own vinegar culture museum.


Dong Hu is known as “China’s first vinegar” by the Chinese people and has been designated as national athletes’ exclusive food vinegar.

It appeared at the Shanghai World Expo.

Final Words:

Shanxi is a region rich in culture and history, and in my blog I will delve deeper into its many charming aspects, from its unique cuisine to its breathtaking landscapes.

Have you seen a rainbow lake?

Have you seen a yellow waterfall?

They are all in Shanxi!

Frequently Asked Questions:FAQ

Reading other people’s questions can help you gain new perspectives.

1.What are the most famous 4 types of vinegar in China?

Shanxi mature vinegar, Zhenjiang/Chinkiang vinegar, Baoning vinegar, and Yongchun old vinegar are renowned throughout the world and are known as “China’s four famous vinegars”.

2.Is Shanxi vinegar the same as black vinegar?

Shanxi vinegar is the most important one of the black vinegar in China.

There are other brands for exmple Zhenjiang vinegar and Baoning vinegar.

3.What is Shanxi aged vinegar?

Shanxi aged vinegar is also called Shanxi mature vinegar or Shanxi old vinegar.

Shanxi vinegar’s aging period is generally 9-12 months, some can be as long as several years.

4.What vinegar do Chinese restaurants use?

  1. Zhenjiang vinegar (镇江香醋) a dark, savory vinegar made from glutinous rice, it’s particularly popular in East China.
  2. Shaoxing vinegar (绍兴酱醋) a yellowish, sweet-salty vinegar made from rice, it’s particularly popular in southern China.
  3. Rice vinegar (米醋) which is made from fermented rice, it is used in a variety of dishes throughout China.
  4. Shanxi old vinegar (山西老陈醋) is a type of black vinegar, it is particularly popular in Shanxi province, it has a distinct flavor profile, a deep color, and a rich aroma that makes it stand out from other vinegars.

It’s worth noting that the use of vinegar in Chinese cooking also varies depending on the regional cuisines, and some regions may use certain vinegars more than others.

5.Why is Chinese vinegar red?

Some Chinese vinegars are red in color, this is typically due to the addition of red yeast rice (红曲米) during the fermentation process.

Red yeast rice is a type of fermented rice that is naturally colored red by a type of yeast called Monascus purpureus.

When added to the vinegar, it gives the liquid a reddish hue and also imparts a unique flavor and aroma to the vinegar.

It is also believed to have some health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, and also it is believed to be beneficial for the blood circulation.

6. Is it possible to make black vinegar at home?

Yes, it is possible to make black vinegar at home.

The process is similar to making other types of vinegar, but it typically takes longer and requires a specific set of ingredients.

The traditional method of making black vinegar involves fermenting a mixture of grains, such as rice, wheat, and barley, with a vinegar culture.

This mixture is then aged in clay pots for several months or even years.

The aging process is what gives black vinegar its dark color and rich, complex flavor.

7.What’s the difference between black vinegar and vinegar?

The main difference between black vinegar and regular vinegar is the ingredients, production process, flavor and color.

Black vinegar tends to be more complex and aged longer and has a stronger flavor profile.

Regular vinegar can be made from different sources and can have a more straightforward and tangy flavor.

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2 thoughts on “The Best Vinegar in China Ends in Shanxi”

  1. Shanxi Vinegar is like a Chinese girlfriend.
    It looks delicious. And it goes well with spicy things.
    But on its own it’s sad sour and bitter.

    1. Yang

      Just like a Chinese girlfriend, Shanxi Vinegar adds the perfect balance of flavor to any dish, but can be overwhelming on its own. A true delicacy to be savored in the right context.

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