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Apple cider vinegar and regular vinegar - Halal or Haram?


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Author Topic: Apple cider vinegar and regular vinegar - Halal or Haram?  (Read 4712 times)
Ruhi_Rose
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« on: November 28, 2015, 05:12:05 am »

 salamem


Hi folks.  I need someone to help me with accurate feedback on the vinegar line of products. 

Is apple cider vinegar Halal or Haram?  I don't know much about apple cider vinegar, but cider always contains alcohol and I have a hunch cider vinegar would contain some too.

There is also great deal of confusion among Islamic sources on the question whether regular vinegar itself is Halal or Haram.  Though I use it very seldom and that too only few drops in certain dishes, we do have a bottle of table white vinegar in our kitchen cabinet.  It doesn't say of any alcoholic contents in it.  Some Muslim sources say that certain types of vinegar are not distilled from alcohol and thus they are Halal.  But they don't give details.  Obviously their own knowledge is scant on how vinegar is processed or manufactured.

We have never used apple cider vinegar nor do we ever intend to, Alhumdulilah.  But just asking because in our Islamic community centre, some say it's okay while some are suspicious.  Some are of the opinion it should only be taken as medication for digestive issues.  So I thought it's better to know the precise facts.

Also, some details on regular table vinegar commonly sold at grocery stores would be very helpful.  My husband, our older son and myself are keen to make sure whether we should have it in our kitchen or trash it.  I guess Sister Heba would know much as I recall you once mentioned a while ago that you guys were doing a thorough 'investigation' on its Halal or Haram status Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2015, 03:02:46 am »

Walaikum As-Salam dear Sister Ruhi.  Yeah, I think I would have some details you may find useful.

Personally my family and I are of the opinion that unless used occasionally as medication, apple cider vinegar better fits the Haram category.  My husband researched this issue a few years ago and we found a couple of sites that said ACV is Haram.  Mentioning no reasons, they quoted one or two hadiths citing it as Haram.  But that of course is not the reason why we see it as Haram.  We are focused on the analytical reasons.  We researched where the vinegar actually comes from.  The apple juice is allowed to brew or fizz in airtight containers until its natural sugar turns to 100% alcohol.  The second step is to add vinegar or acetic acid to this alcohol and it's again left to age a bit  in open containers.  The transformation that takes place is called apple cider vinegar or ACV.  If you read the label of apple cider vinegar it will probably not mention 'alcohol' under its contents.  But it's a matter of common sense.  That has also led scientists to test the stuff who have asserted that they have found about 90 different substances in processed ACV containing at least 18 types of alcohol alongside other contents like ketones, ethyl acetates etc. It might not have an intoxicating effect but could be harmful in other ways.

Some people consume ACV daily as a tonic.   They claim it's a health food, fights stomach bacteria such as salmonella, lowers blood sugar and controls hypertension etc.  While it may help to treat minor stomach bugs, there are no foolproof professional evidences that it lowers blood sugar or controls high blood pressure. The other thing to remember is that it's a harsh substance that causes erosion.  Though it's supposed to be heavily diluted with water before consumption - 1 tablespoon ACV with almost 1 glass of water - yet it may be erosive if taken daily because it's semi-raw and not undergoing the process of cooking.  It can exacerbate stomach acidity (commonly known as heartburn).  Daily use, even if diluted, could possibly erode teeth enamel.  Still much worse, it may likely erode lining of the throat and esophagus that can lead to cancer.

If used once in a while or even for a few days or a couple of weeks as a medication to treat digestive problems is okay.  But I wouldn't go beyond that.

As for Halal or Haram status of regular vinegars, well you're right.  Most of our Muslim circles know very little about it and so they presume some vinegars aren't distilled from alcohol.  Though the alcoholic content is generally little - around 2% - yet it cannot be labelled as alcohol-free.

Wine vinegars such as red or white wine and balsamic vinegar are made by fermenting diluted wine and contain approximately 2% alcohol.  The term "distilled vinegar" (which is also a kind of vinegar) is actually a misnomer for it's not produced by "distillation" rather by fermentation of distilled alcohol and may contain traces of alcohol.

Concerning the regular table vinegar commonly available in grocery stores is actually made with alcohol.  Pure vinegar which maybe labelled as containing 'acetic acid and water'  is actually made by fermenting "ethanol."  And ethanol is another label for alcohol.  Hence similar to AVC, traces of alcohol may also be left in table vinegar.  However, I know of many practicing Muslim families who do keep this stuff in their kitchen and use it - a teaspoon or a tablespoon or sometimes more - in certain dishes like home cooked Chinese etc.   Personally I would not call it a violation at all.  It's okay.   It's only for the purpose of mild acidic flavoring with certainly NO intoxicating affect.  However, my husband and I are more comfortable substituting it with either La Choy's non-alcoholic Halal soya sauce or simply fresh lemon juice or fresh tangerine juice.  That's simply our personal decision and choice.  We aren't suggesting that to everyone.  If you have a bottle of regular vinegar in your kitchen, you may continue using it if you so desire, there is nothing wrong with it Sister.  Choosing a substitute over items like these is only a matter of one's own peace of mind.

We also have a bottle of table vinegar with the rest of our household cleaning products which we use for cleaning purposes.  Diluted vinegar is a good source of cleaning the sink, kitchen counters etc. and also for removing white water stains from stainless steel cooking pots.

After all, when Allah Almighty tells us alcohol is Haram, there are two reasons for it.  First its intoxicating affect on the human system and second, its harsh corrosive effect on the human body.   You will find 90% or more of those diagnosed with mouth, throat or esophagus cancers are drinkers and smokers (smoking too has similar corrosive effect).  It's well known that diseases like cirrhosis of the liver and pancreatic cancer are typical of heavy drinkers of pure alcoholic drinks.  These illnesses don't happen with the use of vinegar or vanilla.

Having said, at the end of the day what needs to be remembered is that prohibition of alcohol by the Noble Quran means drinks which contain enough alcohol to make a person intoxicated or drunk.  It's that level of intoxication that's detrimental on both family relations as well as one's health. A few drops or even a couple of tablespoons/teaspoons of liquids like vinegar or vanilla etc. may contain 2% or less of alcohol used as food condiments cannot possibly make anyone drunk nor hurt their health.   It's presumed that baked bread made by fermenting yeast contains very small amounts of alcohol, around 1% or 1.5%, about the same as regular table vinegar .. something we eat everyday.  It's also presumed that packaged orange juice which we all consume almost daily undergoes some bit of fermentation by the time it reaches the stores and we carry it home and may contain 1% or so of alcohol.   However, we don't even need to think of worrying over such issues.  These are not the kind of alcoholic prohibition the Quran forbids.  Yet if anyone desires to avoid any such harmless items, it's their personal choice but certainly not a necessity as per Quranic instructions.  Quran only prohibits alcohol that causes intoxication, even slightly.  Vinegar, vanilla, bread, orange juice don't cause even the slightest intoxication.  Cider drinks can cause slight intoxication.  That must be taken as Haram.
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2015, 04:40:01 am »

Tons of thanks dear Sis for this very comprehensive information, just the kind we wanted but couldn't find in any of our other Islamic outlets.  It was a relief for my family and I as we got to understand everything well, putting our priorities in order.  My husband and kids also express their thanks to you.  I very much appreciate your stance of first stating the facts on acv and vinegar, and then comparing those facts with the Quranic order on alcoholic prohibition which specifically refers to hard alcoholic drinks that can cause the consumer to lose their minds or even feel light-headed is bad enough.  Neither acv nor common table vinegar come under that category by any stretch of one's imagination.

Okay, so now we've decided not to trash that bottle of plain vinegar in our kitchen Smiley    Also, I would like to get some info on the La Choy Halal soy sauce you mentioned.  I would assume not all soy sauces can be trusted as Halal though I guess even the ones that may contain traces of alcohol would be the same as vinegar.  However, again agreeing with your approach, it's all about one's peace of mind and sometimes even small traces of alcohol make us somewhat uncomfortable using that item.

The other point I wanted to clarify just so that we can caution others, I read something at Islamic Awareness.net which didn't sound too precise.  It was written by some Muslim (apparently), a "Ph.D. and presently working as food scientist with Texas A&M University in Texas."  Seemed like the person was trying to downplay certain aspects to suit the rules of his/her job.  Quoting the author on sugar alcohols "Sugar alcohols are chemically the same as other alcohols. But don't contain any qualities for drunkenness."  This statement sounds like it's mixed with some bullshit.  From everything I know, sugar alcohol does cause intoxication .. and the alcoholic element of a drink is largely enhanced by the addition of sugar during the process of fermentation.  Your comments would be a good source of confirmation.  Not that anyone within our family, extended family or friends ever consume sugar alcohol (Nauzbillah), but just asking so that I can handle debates on such issues which often prop up at our community center where some freaky Muslim teenagers enamored by misguided ideas of assimilation try to neglect Haram by getting some of it into the Halal category.
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2015, 04:53:25 am »

You and your family are most welcomed dear Sister Ruhi.  It's very heartening to know how much all of you care for the guidance of Allah.  Alhumdulilah.

La Choy Halal soy sauce should be available in Muslim grocery stores - Arab grocery stores, Pakistani or Afghan.   Images below show how it looks like, having different color tops and bottle sizes/shapes.   There's an Afghan and a Pakistani grocery store close to our neighborhood and both carry it.


You're dang right, that statement on sugar alcohols doesn't sound right to me either.  Take the example of cider.  Even if cider is officially considered a "non-alcoholic" drink, it turns alcoholic enough to affect one's mind with added sugar during manufacture (which is different from fermentation which strengthens its alcoholic properties still more) and I assure you it causes dizziness even if a non-drinker takes one glass of it.  More than a glass would almost certainly cause symptoms resembling drunkenness.  I don't know how anyone can rule cider as anything but Haram.

Narrating an incident from my childhood.  I recall many years ago when we were kids, our uncle took us (my sisters, brothers, cousins and me) out for a treat of ice-cream after dinner.  Most of us had ice-cream while two of my older cousins opted for coke and my uncle decided to taste "apple juice cider" which was something new at that time in our country of origin.  None of us had any idea what it was, presuming that it would be similar to any other commonly consumed fruit juice like orange or grapefruit juices.  I'm sure that's what the store owner also thought.  But soon after he drank that small bottle of apple juice cider (about the size of a coke bottle) he began feeling quite dizzy.  Fortunately our eldest cousin was present who had recently obtained his driver's license.  He sat at the wheel at my uncle's request and drove us all home.  My uncle didn't lose his senses, not at all.  He was talking fine.  But he said he was feeling so inexplicably strange .. like frail and dizzy ... very clearly a prelude to intoxication if he had consumed any more of it.  After that horrible experience, he warned our entire family never to try that damn stuff and we never did.
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2015, 04:38:43 am »

Thanks for sharing this Sister Heba.  You're totally right.  Any beverage labelled "cider" is certainly alcoholic, the type Muslims are prohibited.

I'll only put up a clarification for "sugar alcohol" and the sugars found in Haram alcohol.

Actually the precise definition & reality of sugar alcohol is different and therefore the Islamic sources have ruled it as Halal.  Within all such concepts, sugar alcohol is simply a label which means the natural sugar in various fruits and berries.  These natural fruit sugars (with the name "sugar alcohol" ,, I don't know why they give this name) contain carbohydrates and starch which are altered through a chemical process.  So let's just call them 'fruit sugars' which can be used as sweeteners in foods.  These sweeteners are also known by names such as sorbitol and mannitol etc.   Just as the term "chocolate liquor" does not contain any liquor, similarly "sugar alcohol" does not contain any alcohol.  These are just professional terms.

However, many types of hard alcohols (which are Haram) contain plenty of sugar.  But the common term "sugar alcohol" which is Halal does not mean that kind of sugar found in alcohols.  For making Haram alcohol, sugary stuff (e.g. apples for making cider or sugar cane for making rum) is fermented.  In other kinds of alcohols, addition of yeast changes sugar to alcohol, and then distilled for vaporized liquid which is formation of hard spirit or alcohol.  Some of these alcohols are then left to age  while water is added to others for the required strength and then they're bottled.   So yes, sugar is definitely there in alcohol which is Haram.  But this is totally different from the term "sugar alcohol" which is simply the natural sugars of fruits without the process of fermentation or any such nonsense.   There are also other Haram alcohols like vodka, scotch or gin which they say are not made with sugar, they're made with water and ethanol and sometimes flavored with sugar before bottling.  However, all such stuff are Haram - sugar or no sugar.   They all undergo the process of fermentation, distillation and aging.  They're all strong liquor that cause drunkenness.

Therefore, unlike these hard liquors, "sugar alcohol" coming straight from fruits do not cause intoxication and is totally safe and Halal.

And yes Sister Heba, your details on ACV and regular vinegar are totally correct.

Many thanks again for this thread Sisters.
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2015, 01:16:08 am »

Ohhh!  Shokran my brother.  That was a perfect exposition of something I apparently hadn't understood precisely.   It's pretty lucid now.  Alhumdulilah.

So ,, "sugar alcohol" simply means natural sugar of fruits with their starchy and carbohydrate properties altered by chemical reaction.  Right?   It's when fruits like apples for example are crushed and fermented and more sugar added to enhance their alcoholic strength is when the sugary stuff contains the Haram alcohol.  Right?


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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2015, 01:18:05 am »

Exactly, excellent wrap up  Smiley

You're very welcomed Sister Heba.
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Ruhi_Rose
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2015, 01:23:49 am »

Aww .. Sis Heba and Br. TS ...... both your inputs together has been totally helpful.   Sister Heba, I too misunderstood the expression "sugar alcohol" similarly.   Get it now, perfectly !!  Smiley 

Those images of Halal soy sauce are helpful guides and will make it easier for me to purchase the right stuff when we go the Halal grocery stores next time, InshAllah.  Thanks again Sister Heba. 

Btw, chocolate liquor has no alcohol either, right?
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2015, 01:36:51 am »

MashAllah, all that was very informative to read. 

Sister Ruhi, no chocolate liquor does not contain alcohol.  Chocolate liquor or cocoa liquor is pure cocoa mass in liquid form.   There are some manufactured chocolates that do contain alcohol, for which the label will say "chocolate liqueur."   If you're buying a box of chocolates which you've never seen or bought earlier, do read its label.  If it says "chocolate liqueur" then don't buy it.  But if it says simply "chocolate liquor" then its safe.

Actually we've dealt with both these topics before and you may find additional info in the following posts:

Sugar alcohol
http://muslimvilla.smfforfree.com/index.php?topic=4418.0

Chocolate liquor
http://muslimvilla.smfforfree.com/index.php?topic=1003.0


Thanks a lot for the excellent thread, sisters and brother.
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2015, 03:20:39 am »

Ah!  Thank you my dear Sis Zeynab.  I forgot about those previous links. 
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