Apple Cider Vinegar
How about a nice glass of diluted vinegar with breakfast? Made by fermenting raw apple cider, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been touted in recent years for use as everything from a weight loss aid to an acne cure. The concept of ACV as curative elixir is nothing new. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used it for its healing properties. Babylonians prized the golden acid as a food additive and preservative. Even Hippocrates himself prescribed its use as an antibiotic.
Over the years some of the therapeutic properties of apple cider vinegar have been debunked, but many have persevered and been given credence through scientific study. Here are a few that are still encouraged in modern homeopathy (although the efficacy of some is debated).
Cold Relief: Apple cider vinegar may not cure the common cold, but it is said to ease congestion by aiding in sinus drainage.
Weight Loss: The evidence is a little flimsy, but many swear by the use of ACV to boost metabolism when consumed in small amounts before a meal.
Relieve Heartburn: Some believe a shot of apple cider vinegar helps break down fat and balances the stomach acid that causes acid reflux.
Lower Cholesterol: Recent studies suggest that a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water taken twice daily can measurably decrease cholesterol levels and promote heart health.
Help Control Diabetes: A 2004 study revealed that ACV lowers glucose levels and, when taken before a meal, increases insulin sensitivity and reduces glucose spikes common after eating.
If you're considering adding apple cider vinegar to your health regimen, not just any commercial cider vinegar will do. Pasteurization and filtering remove many of the enzymes that give ACV its homeopathic value. Look for solids in the bottom of the bottle. Called the “mother,” these solids are evidence of productive enzymes in the vinegar.
Better still, make your own apple cider vinegar. Homemade ACV is easy to make, all natural and takes little more than apples and time.
If the health benefits of apple cider vinegar aren’t enough to inspire you to make your own, let’s not forget its many culinary uses. Homemade apple cider vinegar can be used in salad dressings, marinades or baked goods. Homemade vinegar is not recommended for canning because of inconsistencies in pH levels but is perfectly suited for refrigerator pickling.
How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar
- Select organic apples for your vinegar. Any apples will work, but be aware that sweeter apples will produce a more acidic vinegar.
- Juice apples using a juicer or apple press. Raw apple cider is unfiltered and unpasteurized to allow for productive fermentation.
- Transfer cider into a glass or ceramic container, filling no more than ⅔ full. Cider needs plenty of air to ferment, so narrow-necked vessels are not recommended.
- Cover container with cheesecloth or a towel and secure with a rubber band or twine. The cover will keep dust and bugs out but allow plenty of air needed for fermentation.
- Allow to rest at room temperature in a dark location to ferment. Bubbles will be evident in the cider after a day or two. This is the fermentation process at work.
- Wait 4 to 5 weeks. A mass will have formed on the surface. This is good news. That mass is the “mother” and indicates the bacteria have done their job. Taste the cider. The flavor (and scent) should be what one expects from vinegar—acidic and sour without the bite of alcohol. If it isn’t ready, allow it to rest a few days and taste again.
- When vinegar is ready to go, remove the mother (which can be saved and added to future batches to give them a head start in fermentation).
- Carefully pour about ¾ of the vinegar into a pot. More cider can be added to the remaining vinegar to start a new batch.
- Heat pot of vinegar to 160 degrees to pasteurize and transfer to jars or bottles to store.
Editor's Note: This article is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a professional healthcare provider before trying any form of therapy or if you have any questions or concerns about a medical condition. The use of natural products can be toxic if misused, and even when suitably used, certain individuals could have adverse reactions.