Apple cider vinegar is one of those incredible “do-all” substances that is as comfortable in the medicine cabinet as it is in the garden shed. Introduced in the United States in the 1950′s by D.C. Jarvis, author of Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health, apple cider vinegar is finally being embraced as a dietary supplement worthy of attention.
Traditional therapeutic uses of apple cider vinegar are vast. To name just a few, it has been used to ease digestion, aid in flu prevention, reduce inflammation, regulate pH balance, alleviate allergy symptoms, ease nausea and heartburn, as a staple in detox regimens, and for a number of skin conditions, including reducing acne and smoothing wrinkles.
Although there is much anecdotal evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar for a number of health conditions, science if finally catching up and confirming what many have known for a long time; real, unfiltered apple cider vinegar made with organic apples is truly a gift from nature.
Will the real apple cider vinegar please stand up?
Perhaps you were at the supermarket looking for some apple cider vinegar (ACV) and happened to notice a few different brands. One brand came in a nice plastic container, and the vinegar had a clear and clean appearance, while the other brand came in a glass bottle and looked murky and old. Which one did you pick? If you picked the clear and crisp-looking vinegar in the plastic bottle, you are not unlike millions of other Americans who choose their food with their eyes.
Truly, the clear vinegar is of superior quality, right? It just looks better. Kind of like how the apple treated with synthetic chemicals and free of any bruises looks better than the organic apple that just fell from the tree and suffered a few bumps in the fall. However, the truth is that the cloudy vinegar is, like the apple that fell from the tree, truly the best. The cloudy, somewhat nasty-looking vinegar actually contains beneficial living properties that lend to its therapeutic value.
The natural fermentation of ACV has been done for hundreds, if not thousands, of years by numerous cultures. Crushed raw apples are placed in large wooden barrels and allowed to ferment naturally over time. The resulting liquid is neither clear nor “perfect” looking. In fact, natural ACV should be brownish in color and contain what is known as the “mother.” This is the first thing you should look for when choosing quality apple cider vinegar.
The cloudy and somewhat cobweb-like structure that you may see in raw ACV is endearingly referred to as the mother, because of its life-giving properties. As the vinegar ages, the mother becomes more pronounced, and if you hold the vinegar bottle to the light you can almost always see the makings of the mother – usually suspended close to the bottom of the jar. In the mother are valuable nutrients and beneficial bacteria that make unprocessed ACV so special.
Raw ACV should also have a strong aroma and make you pucker when you taste it. These signs, along with the visible appearance of the mother, are good signs that your ACV is of high quality.
Some of the beneficial ingredients in raw, organic ACV include:
- Potassium: promotes cell tissue and organism growth, and helps prevent brittle teeth and hair loss
- Iron: important for blood health
- Magnesium: vital to heart health
- Enzymes: boosts chemical reactions in the body
- Malic acid: protects vinegar from viruses, bacteria and fungus
- Acetic acid: slows the digestion of starch
- Calcium: builds strong bones and teeth
- Pectin: helps regulate blood pressure and cholesterol
- Ash: maintains a healthy alkaline state in body
That plastic container full of crystal clear ACV that you have sitting on your shelf has had all the life sucked out of it by the processing industry. Pasteurized vinegars contain none of the health-promoting characteristics of traditional vinegars, but they look good, and since most customers seem to demand what looks good, manufacturers continue to refine solely how good things look with little regard for their nutritional value.
As unappetizing as the mother floating around aimlessly in the unfiltered vinegar bottle may appear, never underestimate her power! She is exactly what you are looking for. You can buy high quality raw and organic ACV at most health food stores, or stores that sell whole foods.
You can also purchase it from a reputable online retailer. Bragg’s has been making unfiltered, GMO and gluten-free apple cider vinegar for decades.
If you have access to raw and organic apples, you can even try to make your own vinegar.
Organic, whole apple cider vinegar
Although will take seven months for your vinegar to ferment, the process of making your own is not difficult.
- 10 whole, organic apples of any type
- 1 medium glass bowl
- 1 large glass bowl
- A piece of cheesecloth
- Wash the apples and cut them into quarters.
- Allow the apples to turn brown in the air.
- Place in a medium glass bowl and cover with filtered water.
- Cover the bowl with the cheesecloth and leave it in a warm, dark place for six months.
- After six months you will see a gray-colored scum on the surface of the liquid – this is normal.
- Strain the liquid through a coffee filter into a larger glass bowl.
- Cover the bowl with the cheesecloth and let it sit for four weeks.
- Pour into a glass container and use as desired.
If you are impatient and want your vinegar sooner than seven months, you may want to try this recipe. It is a great way to make use of apple scraps after baking or eating.
- Wide-mouth jar
- Apple scraps, including cores and peels from organic apples
- A piece of cheesecloth
- Leave the scraps until they turn brown.
- Add scraps to the jar and cover with water.
- Cover jar with cloth.
- Place jar in a warm, dark place.
- In a few days you will see the contents thicken and a gray scum appear.
- Allow the apples to ferment for one month.
- Taste the vinegar – if it is strong enough, strain the liquid.
- Store your vinegar in a glass container.
- How to consume raw apple cider vinegar
Keep in mind that apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, so it is always best to dilute it. Straight apple cider vinegar may damage tooth enamel or burn mouth and throat tissue.
Apple cider vinegar may interact with diuretics and other medicines, so be sure to check with a healthcare provider before using.