Drinking Vinegar, Gamsikcho, Hongcho, Heuckcho

Drinking Vinegar Hongcho Micho Gamsikcho

About three years ago, that is sometime in 2005, hongcho (red vinegar), heuckcho (black vinegar) or gamsikcho (persimmon vinegar) got very popular in Korea. Those are various kinds of vinegar drinks that are fermented from fruit or grain and watered down so people can drink it easily.

When I heard about this vinegar boom a few months later in America, I thought some Koreans don’t mind eating or drinking weird stuff just to get healthy. It was my typical judgment on that as another Korean living outside of the country. Except the rumor(?) that Chinese circus girls and boys are forced to drink vinegar to perform like rubber, for me, vinegar is always just an ingredient for food, nothing more, nothing less.

But I got interested in this ongoing trend after I saw a TV show about its benefits early this year. Well, I also got more interested in healthy food in general. Here is what I have found out.

- Vinegar, a kind of liquid yielded from fermentation process, is generally believed to have health benefits in a few ways. It is believed to lower cholesterol, soothe stomach ache, improve skin tone, or help lose weight. Historically, people also considered vinegar as a kind of medicine and used it in healing injuries or insect stings. These benefits have not been scientifically proven yet.

However, it is generally accepted that vinegar contains organic acids that speed up metabolism. It also improves appetite and strengthen immune system.

- Vinegar drinks produced in Korea have reinforced these organic acids during natural fermentation process and lowered acid concentration from typical 5~6% to 2~3% to make it easier to drink. Especially vinegars made out of 100% fruit, for example 100% gamsikcho (persimmon vinegar) or 100% goguma hongcho (sweet red potato red vinegar) have more antioxidants as well as plenty of organic acids. Also, Korean-produced honey and more fiber are added to these vinegars for sweeter taste.

So it’s important to check the label and see if it’s 100% fruit or grain vinegar when you buy them. Some of vinegar drinks out there are not fermented long enough and don’t have good quality organic acids.

These days, I try to drink 100% pomegranate vinegar every night. Often times I forget to drink it every night. But it’s okay as it’s not necessarily a cheap drink.

Next time when I go to a Korean market, I’ll look for 100% Korea-produced persimmon vinegar or micho. Persimmon vinegar is supposedly less sweet, hence(?) healthier, I might say. =)

- Hongcho : Literally it means red vinegar. Its main ingredients are reddish or dark fruit or grains such as pomegranates, raspberries, red sweet potatos, blueberries, black beans, or brown rice, all of which have lots of antioxidants. It’s said this has the most strong sour taste of all drinking vinegars sold in Korea.

Drinking Vinegar - Hongcho - Pomegranates, Raspberries, Black Beans

- Micho: ‘Mi’ in this name means beauty or beautiful. This is also made from fruit and has the softest taste. It’s sweeter than hongcho. More popular among women.

Drinking Korean Vinegar - Micho

- Gamsikcho: Literally it means persimmon vinegar. Usually they ferment persimmons over a year to produce this kind of vinegar.

How to drink vinegars (gamsikcho or hongcho)

It’s instructed to mix it with water with the ratio of 1:3 (vinegar: water). I’m a little bit conservative, thinking it’s still vinegar. I mix it with water 1:4, sometimes 1:5 when I don’t have any cravings for sour stuff. Because it already contains some honey, it should be easy enough to drink for most people. For me, it almost tastes like juice. Just a little sour, but not bad at all. You can mix it with milk or soy milk for different taste.


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10 Responses to “Drinking Vinegar, Gamsikcho, Hongcho, Heuckcho”

  1. Lori Says:

    Believe it or not, the pomegranate vinegar is delicious mixed with vodka! Very different sort of martini.

  2. mykoreandiet Says:

    Wow, that sounds great! One of these Fridays, I’ll definitely try it. Moderately, hahaha! Thanks for reading! =)

  3. drinkingvinegar Says:

    Thanks for the experience, really enjoyed the thread on vinegars, and I would certainly agree with you. I’ve also just signed up for drinkingvinegars.blogspot.com so that i can share more knowledge on the bio-chemistry of vinegars, I am fortunate to have first hand knowledge of the brewing process of vinegars from Taiwan, with substancial evidence of health benefit reports from renouned bio-chemists. Try a sweet apple vinegar with crushed ice and soda, with a dash of mint, and a slice of lemon. Taiwan Magic!

  4. mykoreandiet Says:

    It sounds very delicious and I’ll try it sometime soon! Thanks for visiting my blog. =)

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Nice information dear! My friend’s mother is dietician at Delhi Hospital said that 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds soaked in curds and consumed in the morning in empty stomach prevents diabeties and also helps diabetic patients to recover.

  6. John Says:

    I have used both types of vinegar you have pictured above this year. The micho is indeed sweeter than the hongcho. In January I bought three bottles of micho (900 ml) and they are all gone. I bought persimmon, blueberry, and pomegranite. In February I bought five bottles of hongcho (it was on sale at about 4.50 a bottle). I bought red gingseng, blueberry, pomegranite, mulberry, and blackberry. Four bottles are already gone and it is only March 2. I drink it diluted four to one most of the time, and it is delicious. Now, I have to figure out how to enjoy apple cider vinegar, which is much cheaper. I can buy it by the gallon for less than 900 ml of the Korean fruit vinegars.

    I have yet to see any weight loss, or other health benefits from it, but it is great to drink.

  7. CShannon Says:

    I have tried the pomegranate And I love it!! I can give up soda. that alone should help me shed the pounds I’ve picked up over the years. But I can’t find any of these other wonderful flavors u speak of. I live in MD. I’ll order if I have to, but does anyone know if I can get them locally?

  8. XD Says:

    can you mix hongcho with milk too?

  9. Mat Says:

    CShannon - if you’re near DC, just check any of the local Korean markets. There is enough of a Korean population in the greater DC area that you should be able to find what you’re looking for in one of the markets.

  10. bware Says:

    H Mart near Catonsville, Maryland off of Route 40 specializes in various Drinking Korean Vinegar…I started my vinegar diet last week! They are about $9 a bottle but it is worth it.

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