Recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/19670/sweet-and-sour-sauce-i/

3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Place the sugar, vinegar, water, soy sauce, ketchup and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Stir continuously until the mixture has thickened.

I did everything as said in the instructions, weighed in all the ingredients correctly and the problem is with the vinegar. I don't know if I'm using the wrong vinegar or something, but as soon as I smelled the sauce when it was cooking, I thought my lungs was about to explode in my chest, I could barely taste the sauce as the vinegar felt really really strong in it.

Is it something wrong with my choice of vinegar or is the recipe faulty? I don't understand. On the bottle it says "Food vinegar acid (9%)".

Really need help.

3 Answers 3


5% is the acid content of most common vinegars, and if a recipe doesn't explicitly state to use a stronger one, assume a 5% type is intended. There seem to be versions of white distilled vinegar in both 5% and 10%, an even stronger version called Essigessenz at 25% (!!!) is common in Germany. You likely bought the 9% version by accident, you should dilute it 1:1 with water or only use half the amount.

  • Damnit, I had to pour all of it in the toilet...Lesson learned I guess...
    – Giancarlo
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 13:06
  • I think I'm gonna use a third of it, cuz that felt really disturbing to taste. Or else maybe I could use apple or wine vinegar? Those are 5% in my store.
    – Giancarlo
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 13:11
  • 1
    Could have just diluted it with a double helping of every ingredient except vinegar :) BTW, rice wine vinegar (the yellowish stuff) is usually more suited for such sauces than distilled vinegar (except for blatantly american chinese sauces or spring roll sauce for some reason .... ) ... Or balance it out with plenty sugar (make sure you don't upset your stomach though)... Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 15:23
  • 1
    As a german I can tell you, that "Essigessenz" is almost exclusively used for cleaning and killing weeds. Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 15:55
  • Oh, it is not that rarely used for vinaigrettes when you don't want to water them down more than necessary. With Obacht of course! It certainly is food grade. Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:28

This may vary between recipes, countries and other factors, but the vinegars I have seen usually contain about five percent of acid, and their name generally indicates the base the vinegar is made from (whine, sherry,...).

So I guess your vinegar is much more acidic than is usual, and could have been diluted for the recipe. Also, it might just be a mix of acetic acid and water, whith a pure acidy taste.

  • Do you think if I didn't use the vinegar at all, would the recipe still work?
    – Giancarlo
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 12:31
  • No - you want the sauce to be sour after all. As I said, you can dilute it (ratio of about 1:1) or use a different vinegar with about 5% acid.
    – Toffomat
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 14:52
  • Ah, and of course you can always first use less vinegar, taste and adjust the seasoning later.
    – Toffomat
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 8:30

I have found using rice wine vinegar to be a better vinegar choice. U could always up the sugar, I always use pineapple juice in my. Helps balance the sour out a ton. try replacing the water measurement with pineapple juice.

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