Cane vinegar, made from sugarcane juice, is most popular in the Philippines, in particular, the Ilocos Region of the northern Philippines (where it is called sukang iloko), although it also is produced in France and the United States.
It ranges from dark yellow to golden brown in colour, and has a mellow flavour, similar in some respects to rice vinegar, though with a somewhat “fresher” taste. Because it contains no residual sugar, it is no sweeter than any other vinegar. In the Philippines, it often is labeled as sukang maasim (Tagalog for “sour vinegar”). Cane vinegars from Ilocos are made in two different ways. One way is to simply place sugar cane juice in large jars and it will directly become sour by the direct action of bacteria on the sugar. The other way is through fermentation to produce a local wine known as ‘basi’. Low quality ‘basi’ is then allowed to undergo acetic acid fermentation that converts alcohol into acetic acid. Contaminated ‘basi’ also become vinegar. A white variation has become quite popular in Brazil in recent years, where it is the cheapest type of vinegar sold. It is now common for other types of vinegar (made from wine, rice and apple cider) to be sold mixed with cane vinegar to lower the costs.
Cane vinegar is used in dishes with sweet and sour sauces, including sauerbraten, pickled herring, and even as an addition to humus or lemon custard. In Filipino cooking, one of the classic dishes is adobo, a dish of chicken and pork simmered in vinegar, bay leaves, garlic and spices served over rice. Braised pork leg or paksiw na pata is another popular Filipino dish, usually made with several cups of cane vinegar. Some cooks also recommend using cane vinegar as part of a marinade to tenderise meat. Since it has a lighter flavour then many other types of vinegar, food tends not to take on its flavour quite as much. It will taste more piquant, but have less of a strong vinegar taste. Some people like to add a touch to dressings for fruit salads since it will have a bite but won’t interfere with natural fruit flavours.
We have been unsuccessful in finding a supplier of cane vinegar in Australia. If you know of or find one, please let us know in comments so others can benefit. Thank you.