Using Kombucha Vinegar to Replace Apple Cider Vinegar (and the differences)

One of the most wonderful things about cultured food is the money-saving DIY aspect of the process. Making our own yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables has saved us countless dollars over the years.

And since we’re all looking for ways to cut the grocery budget, it makes sense to see what it is you can make for pennies that can replace those things you have to buy with dollars. Kefir becomes salad dressing, sourdough acts as our yeast, and pickles can be cheaply and freshly fermented.

Now I had a means of saving on our vinegar of choice.

Raw apple cider vinegar is something we purchase a lot of. My husband drinks a lot of it mixed into water to aid his digestion. I also use it as my go-to vinegar for salads. He wasn’t doing well with straight up kombucha, most likely due to the sugar content still left, so I let it sit for a bit longer.

At this point it is very tangy and tastes very similar to apple cider vinegar. I poured it off and mixed it into his water and there was no negative reaction. So, we were able to replace some of his apple cider vinegar intake with the kombucha vinegar. I say some simply because I ran out and am waiting on a new batch to finish fermenting.

Now, one might wonder if there are any major differences in the two acids that might deter us from using them interchangeably. My general understanding is that there are differences. The food the mother is fed, for instance, is different – sucrose vs. fructose. Some of the resulting acids and bacteria are most likely different as well, both due to the differences in the food and the mother.

There are many similarities, though. They both contain acetic acid. They both aid digestion because they are a living food. They probably both overlap in some of the bacteria and organic acids they contain. They’re both a delicious and tangy addition to beverages and foods alike.

To be clear they aren’t the same, but because of what we use apple cider vinegar for, and because of what they have in common, substituting one for the other works.

So, I think it makes sense to replace that $5 bottle of vinegar with one that costs 90% less, don’t you?

How do you save money with cultured foods?


Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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  1. says

    This has been a very interesting topic to me for a while because I have been making both cider vinegar and kombucha and their similarities seem stronger than their differences, at least in terms of flavor and appearance. I started topping up my raw cider vinegar (from a local producer) with frozen raw cider that I had pressed at a local press (a pretty awesome place). The mother that has formed in the cider jar looks a lot like the kombucha mother but without the brown yeasty dangling thingies. They both smell similar and if I let my kombucha go long enough it does have that acetic flavor to it. I guess in my case it is actually better to keep making my own raw cider vinegar because I have access to cheap raw cider to make my vinegar with and it is a local product that I can trace to the source much more easily than the ingredients in my kombucha (tea from… somewhere in India, at least it’s organic, and organic sugar from… I don’t know where). Anyways, it’s cool to know that both can be interchangeable under the right circumstances!

    • says

      Jon – Glad to hear it was helpful. I’d love to be able to make some homegrown cider vinegar someday, though here in TX the fruit would probably be different. And I’m so glad to have found your blog through your comment. Great work!

    • says

      Jon – So glad you commented because I am loving your blog! I love fresh cider, hard cider, and cider vinegar but have never had the pleasure of making my own or having easy access to it. I think that certain categories of ferments can often be used interchangeably. Of course, I have a hard use-what-you-have bent, so maybe I’m biased in that regard. But, I say go with what works for you!

  2. David says

    I’m wondering about other ferments like water kefir, which I assume could also be interchangeable with cider vinegar. I’m just learning how to use it and when it might turn to more of a vinegar versus something more yeasty instead.

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