Vinegar is one of many foods created by bacteria and yeasts. Most vinegars start from crushed fruit or grains and exposed first to yeasts and later to bacteria.
The yeast ferments the sugars in the fruit to create alcohol. Then, specific bacteria break down the alcohol to form acetic acid, the main component of vinegar.
Vinegar can be made from any fruit, many grains, and even wood chips! Starches are first converted to sugars to begin the fermentation process. The source will determine the vinegar result. For instance:
- Apples are made into hard cider first and then apple cider vinegar.
- Grapes are made into wine and then wine vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is specially made from Trebbiano or Lambrusco grapes under delicate conditions.
- Hops and barley are made into beer and then into malt vinegar (the starch converts to maltose).
- Rice is made into sake or rice wine and then rice vinegar.
- Common Grains are distilled into the familiar white vinegar.
- Other vinegars can be made from coconuts, pineapples, cactus fruits, and herbs along with a variety of sugar sources: molasses, sorghum, honey, beets, potatoes, melons, or maple syrup to start the process.
The acids in apple cider vinegar improve digestion and deter the growth of disease-causing bacteria in the digestive tract.They also provide balance to acid/alkaline levels.
The minerals (potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium) bind to the acids and neutralize them when the digestive tract needs to be more alkaline.
Acetic acid is formed only by Acetobacter bacteria. These bacteria are found everywhere in food, water, and soil and is naturally produced as fruits spoil. In humans and other primates, acetic acid is a component of the female vagina, where it serves as an antibacterial.
The acetic acid content of vinegar will determine its use and varies according to the fruit or grain used to start with. Rice wine vinegar is quite mild with a low acid level making it a good choice for salad dressings. On the other end of the scale is distilled white vinegar which is highly acidic and suitable for making pickles. All other vinegars fall in between.
Malic acid, in particular, is the main digestive acid found in apple cider vinegar as well as in our own body cells. It has many health benefits, including boosting immunity, maintaining good oral health, reducing the risk of toxic heavy metals, and promoting good skin tone. Its most significant contribution is the ability to stimulate the metabolism and increase energy production.
Homemade, or good quality vinegar, will have a thick, filmy substance floating in it. This is called the mother, which consists of cellulose as a result of interaction between the bacteria and the alcohol. Because the mother is a concentration of Acetobacter bacteria, it cannot be disturbed during the process and must float on the top to feed on oxygen. If it is moved, it will sink to the bottom and die thereby halting the vinegar process.
At one time, it was thought that this substance acted similar to a yogurt starter, but thoughts have changed. It is now known that the mother is the result of a process rather than the initiator, changing alcohol into vinegar. Since there are countless members of this family, no one particular strain can be counted on to make only one kind of vinegar.
While it may take several months for homemade vinegar to complete, industrial vinegar has speeded up the process by adding more surface area for oxygen to reach the bacteria. Unfortunately, vinegar manufacturers usually filter out the mother and any sediment to make their product more aesthetically pleasing. Doing so robs the product of its healthful qualities, which can be compared to refined flour versus whole grain flour.
Making Your Own
Fill a sterilized wide-mouth jar about two-thirds full of hard apple cider. For larger quantities, use a large crock. Hard apple cider has already been fermented and ready to go into the next stage which is the making of vinegar. The cider found in grocery stores will not work.
Add a little unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar with the mother (sold at many health food stores or on line).
Cover with a cheesecloth to allow oxygen to feed the bacteria without insects also getting in. Allow to sit for about 4 weeks in a dark place at room temperature. Do not disturb because the mother has to float. If disturbed, it could sink to the bottom where it will decompose; thus destroying what could have been vinegar.
As cider is transformed into vinegar, the alcohol content drops while the acidity rises. The only real way to tell if the process is complete is to taste it. When ready, there should be no taste of alcohol. A litmus paper test should give the proper reading of between 5 and 6 per cent acidity. Do not try to make pickles with it unless you are very sure that the acidity is at least 4 per cent.
Apple Cider Vinegar Nutrition
Apple cider vinegar is a concentration of acids, flavonoids, polyphenols, pectin, enzymes, minerals, and amino acids that form during fermentation. Scientists have found about 90 different substances in apple cider vinegar, including 13 kinds of carbolic acids, 4 aldehydes, 20 ketones, 18 types of alcohols, 8 ethyl acetates and much more.
- Acids: acetic, isobutyric, lactic, malic, and propionic
- Amino acids: the number and amount depends on its source with some having antioxidant properties.
- Beta-carotene helps prevent cancer and protects the body against damage caused by exposure to toxic chemicals
- Boron is found abundantly in fresh apples. It is a key mineral that assists other bone-building minerals also found in apple cider vinegar like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- Enzymes are built from protein molecules and have many duties in the body. Those suffering from indigestion, gas, or bloating lack the essential digestive enzymes needed to digest food properly. Fresh apples are loaded with enzymes, which increase as vinegar is made. This is why it is important to buy apple cider vinegar with the mother. That way you know the precious enzymes and nutrients have not been destroyed in processing.
- Magnesium is needed for bone health as well as for proper muscle function, including the heart where it can strengthen the beat and help normalize blood pressure.
- Pectin is a soluble fibre that can absorb water, toxins, and cholesterol in the digestive tract. Apple cider vinegar contains valuable pectin from the apples and will go a long way in improving heart health and regularity.
- Potassium is stripped from processed foods and replaced by sodium. To make matters worse, caffeine and sugar take what little is left in the diet because both act as diuretics, flushing valuable nutrients out of the body. Apple cider vinegar is an excellent source of potassium, giving roughly 100 mg per 3.5 ounces.
- Tannins are released from the crushed cells of the apple. Tannins are the red-gold plant chemicals that give plants and various fruits and vegetables their astringency. They are effective antioxidants that help to prevent spoilage.
- Other: During both fermentation processes, many new plant chemicals are formed. As yet, many remain unidentified and no doubt will add to apple cider vinegar’s growing list of health-giving substances.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
- TONIC: 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar in 1 glass filtered water. Drink before or during meals 3 times a day.
- Acne: Mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar with a cup of water and dab on blemishes several times a day. This will help dry them out and curb infection. You can follow this treatment with a little aloe vera gel to help prevent scarring.
- Aging: Premature aging can be a sign of an inefficient digestive process. Drinking a little apple cider vinegar before each meal can help improve digestion. Taking the TONIC on a regular basis will improve digestion and metabolism, resulting in better skin tone, less joint pain, improved memory, and a trimmer figure.
- Allergies: Regular use of apple cider vinegar helps strengthen the immune system and improve metabolism.
- Arthritis: Although there is no definitive research on this, many arthritics attest to its effectiveness. Dosages vary from taking 2 teaspoons a day to 10 with water after a meal until the pain subsides. Arthritis is often aggravated by food allergies. The most common culprits are nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tobacco), wheat, dairy, corn, and citrus. By eliminating one at a time, people can find out which one may be affecting them.
- Asthma: Sipping a glass of water containing a tablespoon or more of apple cider vinegar often helps.
- Athlete’s foot: Soak the feet twice a day in half water and half apple cider vinegar. Applying the vinegar directly to the affected areas several times a day also works well.
- Bladder: Patricia Bragg recommends this healing and cleansing drink to help overcome bladder and kidney infections: 2 tbsp. cornsilk to 1 quart distilled water or marshmallow herbal tea. Drink 1 cup 3 times a day, adding ½ tsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp buckwheat honey each time. Adding a little apple cider vinegar to organic, non-sweetened cranberry juice also works well.
- Bleeding: Vinegar has long been used to treat wounds and stop bleeding. It is believed that the adrenaline-like effect of apple cider vinegar helps to coagulate the blood. A cottonball soaked in apple cider vinegar and placed in the bleeding nostril is more effective than a plain cottonball.
- Blood pressure: Take the TONIC to gain the benefits of the potassium in the apple cider vinegar. Potassium helps balance the body and lower the blood pressure.
- Bones: Apple cider vinegar contains minerals (magnesium, manganese, and silicon) which contribute to good bone health. It also contains the trace mineral boron which supports the metabolism of calcium and magnesium. Several good quality calcium and magnesium manufacturers are recognizing this and adding the mineral to their supplements. Boron also helps elevate levels of the hormones estrogen and testosterone which help keep bones strong.
- Bruises: Dissolve and warm 1 tsp salt in ½ cup apple cider vinegar. Apply as a compress to the affected area.
- Burns: Use apple cider vinegar full strength to any burn, including sunburns.
- Cancer: Apple cider vinegar contains a number of substances that can help protect against cancer, including beta carotene and pectin that help fight against free radicals. One interesting study published in Lancet was done by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and at the University of Zimbabwe. Nurse midwives screened more than 11,000 women for cervical cancer, using both acetic acid (the prime ingredient in apple cider vinegar) and the traditional pap smear. They found that the vinegar test picked up more precancerous or cancerous cells than the pap smear.
- Canker sores: Rinse the mouth with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in 1 glass of water several times a day.
- Candida: As a douche for vaginal yeast infections, mix 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 quart warm water and use twice a day until the burning and itching stop. Adding 1 cup of the vinegar to bath water also brings relief and toning the skin and helps to heal other skin problems.
- Cataracts: Studies have shown that diets high in fat and salt increase the risk for cataracts. Since apple cider vinegar helps metabolize proteins which, in turn, improve fat metabolism, it should be added to the diet to lower the risk of cataracts. Not only that but apple cider vinegar also includes the antioxidants (beta-carotene, C, and E) known to fight against the free radicals formed in the body that contribute to cataracts.
- Chicken pox: The discomfort of the itching pox can be relieved by applying apple cider vinegar full strength to the affected areas and by adding 1 cup to a warm bath.
- Cholesterol: Taking the TONIC is an effective way of adding pectin to the diet. Pectin is a soluble fibre which absorbs fats and cholesterol and removes them from the body. The vinegar also contains amino acids which neutralize harmful LDL cholesterol.
- Cold sores: Cold sore pain and duration can be lessened by applying apple cider vinegar full-strength to the sores several times a day.
- Colds: During a cold, the body is more alkaline. Therefore, taking the TONIC several times a day at the onset of a cold can help raise the acidity level to kill off the harmful viruses and boost the body’s immune system. Nasal congestion can be relieved by adding apple cider vinegar to a steaming bowl of water and inhaling the vapors. This will not only open the passages but the vinegar will help kill the viruses or bacteria causing the problem.
- Constipation: Constipation is caused by a poor diet and a reduction in digestive acids that diminish with age. Along with improving the diet by adding more fibre, apple cider vinegar taken with meals can also help with regularity.
- Corns: Soak feet in a warm bath containing ½ cup apple cider vinegar. Rub the corns with a pumice stone and apple vinegar full strength. Cover with a bandage overnight. Apply the vinegar and a bandage again in the morning. Repeat until the corn has dissolved.
- Coughs: One of the oldest home remedies is honey and lemon juice, but using apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice also works well.
- Cramps: Muscle cramps can be an imbalance of nutrients in the body, especially vitamin E, potassium, calcium, or magnesium. Taking apple cider vinegar daily will help supply as well as metabolize these nutrients from other sources.
- Cut Flower Preservation: Adding 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar and 3 tsp. sugar to a litre (or quart) of warm water helps flowers last longer.
- Cuts and abrasions: Applying apple cider vinegar to superficial wounds is an age-old practice. It will not only cut down on the risk of infection; but it will also speed the rate of healing.
- Dandruff: Use apple cider vinegar full strength on the scalp to destroy the bacteria or fungus that is causing the problem. Apply to the scalp, rub in, and leave on for half an hour before shampooing the hair.
- Deodorant: A good diet and regular cleansing will go a long way in reducing body odor; but for added protection, dip a cloth in apple cider vinegar and wipe underarms with it.
- Depression: Although depression can range from the mild to the severe, it is a serious metabolic disorder. Apple cider vinegar can help cleanse the body by stimulating the liver to get rid of toxins that might be contributing to the problem. It also helps metabolize the proteins needed to influence production of seratonin.
- Diaper rash: Apply half apple cider vinegar and half water to a diaper rash or any other type of rash. It also tones the skin.
- Diarrhea: Taking the daily TONIC can help get rid of the micro-organism causing the problem and improve digestion that might also be a contributing factor. Some people resort to over-the-counter use of Kaopectate. The pectate part is simply pectin. Much cheaper and more natural versions can be found in fruits and vegetables and of course, apple cider vinegar. Persistent diarrhea, however, requires medical attention.
- Digestion: As mentioned many times, apple cider vinegar improves digestion especially in metabolizing proteins. It enhances the action of hydrochloric acid (HCL – which deminishes with age) and digestive enzymes. Digestion begins in the mouth where the apple cider vinegar stimulates the acid receptors on the tongue to produce saliva that begins the breakdown of carbohydrates. Taking apple cider vinegar and water before each meal can help improve the digestive process.
- Dizziness: A too-alkaline environment can produce dizziness and a number of other conditions. Some people have obtained relief from dizziness by taking the TONIC on a regular basis.
- Earaches: While waiting for antibiotics to work, should one be needed, put some apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and place in the ear. This can help kill off any microbe that might be causing the problem as well as relieving pain.
- Eczema: Use half apple cider vinegar and half water to relieve the itching and dryness.
- Fatigue: The amino acids in the apple cider vinegar can help neutralize the build-up of lactic acid in the bloodstream that occurs after exercise and stress. It is also thought that regular use of the TONIC can help prevent fatigue.
- Fever: There is an age-old remedy of wrapping the calves with towels that have been soaked in 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts water. This seems to have helped reduce fevers. Resoak and reapply as the towels dry out and until the fever is reduced, all the while keeping the patient warm, of course.
- Flatulence: Stomach gas is a sign of poor digestion, often caused by the incomplete digestion of carbohydrates. Sipping the TONIC before meals can help relieve the problem.
- Food poisoning: Traveling to other countries often brings on digestive upsets. Traveling with liquids can cause other problems. However, apple cider vinegar is available in capsules. Taking them every time you eat can help avoid digestive problems and kill any microbes that cause food poisoning.
- Gall bladder: Apple cider vinegar can be an integral part of what is called a gall bladder flush. There are many variations to this flush, which is taken over a period of 2 to 3 days followed by drinking straight olive oil. However, this should only be attempted if small gallstones are present and even then, should be supervised by a health care professional. Consuming apple cider vinegar on a regular basis can help avoid gallstones altogether.
- Gums: Bleeding gums are often relieved by using the TONIC as a mouth rinse. The action of the vinegar dissolves plaque and fight oral infections. It can also dissolve tooth enamel, so swish well with water after a vinegar rinse.
- Hair: Add ¼ cup apple cider vinegar to 1 quart warm water and use as a final rinse or for loosening tangles. It will restore lustre and shine to dull, lifeless hair. The mixture will also help fight scalp conditions like dryness, itchiness, and flaking, especially if caused by a fungus. For hair colouring: If using a vegetable-based hair dye or henna, rinsing with apple cider vinegar holds the colour longer. In addition, rinsing the hair with apple cider vinegar before a colouring or perm process will remove any residue from shampoos and make the dye or perm take a better hold.
- Headaches: Headaches are often the result of the body being too alkaline. The fastest way to gain relief is to try a little apple cider aromatherapy by breathing in the fumes of simmered water and apple cider vinegar. Adding the vinegar to a vapourizer can also help.
- Head lice: Over-the-counter head lice preparations are very toxic and often are not as effective as more natural approaches. Try rinsing the hair with full strength apple cider vinegar. Do not wash out. Wrap in a scarf and leave until the next shampoo. Do this for 2 or 3 days in order to kill all the adult lice. Then for the next few days, examine each strand of hair in the sunlight for eggs. Use a nit-comb or fingernails to remove these. Wash your hands and clean your fingernails thoroughly afterwards. Use apple cider vinegar regularly on your hair to keep the scalp free of pests and other infections.
- Heartburn: Ironically, heartburn results from too little hydrochloric acid rather than too much. Taking antacids only compounds the problem. Regular use of apple cider vinegar can help eliminate the problem as it properly breaks down fats and proteins and stimulates digestive enzymes to improve the whole digestive process.
- Heatstroke: This can happen when not enough fluids are consumed, causing the body to overheat. Apple cider vinegar can quickly restore electrolytes and other minerals lost during sweating. In fact, an age-old remedy called switchel was served to exhausted workers. It consisted of combining 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 ½ tablespoons of blackstrap molasses, and 2 cups boiling water poured over ice.
- Hemorrhoids: Apply full strength apple cider vinegar to the hemorrhoid to promote shrinking and a reduction in the itch and pain. Regular internal use can help with the digestion that precludes the onset of hemorrhoids.
- Hiccups: There are so many remedies for hiccups that adding apple cider vinegar should come as no surprise. Sipping a glass of warm TONIC sometimes helps.
- Hives: Make a paste of equal parts apple cider vinegar and cornstarch and apply to the hives or rash to help calm the itching. This also works for jock itch and other rashes.
- Impetigo: This is a very contagious bacterial infection (staph or strep) often seen in young children. Applying apple cider vinegar to the lesions every 3 hours should help halt the spread and dry up the areas.
- Iron absorption: Apple cider vinegar can help improve the absorption of iron, a mineral that carries oxygen to the cells and holds it there, thus preventing iron deficiency anemia. The acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar helps release iron from food. The more iron that is absorbed, the more oxygen will be in the blood cells and the more energy a person will have.
- Insect bites and stings: Apply full strength apple cider vinegar to reduce pain and/or itching.
- Insomnia: A glass of apple cider vinegar TONIC with a little honey before bed often helps. The carbohydrates in the vinegar and honey will activate serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes relaxation.
- Kidneys: Pyelitis (Pyelonephritis) is an inflammation of a kidney. Some doctors have used the apple cider tonic with good results. However, always check with your own health care professional.
- Leg cramps: Regular intake of TONIC can help absorb calcium and magnesium. A lack of these minerals often contributes to leg cramps, especially at night.
- Liver function: Apple cider vinegar has long been used as a detoxifying agent. To promote good liver function, add an additional 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your daily TONIC. This will increase the breakdown of fats and proteins from foods that tax the liver.
- Night sweats: Whether night sweats are the result of an illness or menopause, drinking a glass of TONIC in the morning can help balance the hormones and help the body remove toxins through the perspiration.
- Pets: Apple cider vinegar works very well on animals, as well as on humans.
- Putting a little in their water dish helps keep their digestive tract healthy, deters fleas and ticks, and gives them a shiny coat.
- Swabbing their ears with diluted apple cider vinegar keeps them free from itching.
- Skin conditions are relieved by adding apple cider vinegar to their bath.
- Using the vinegar instead of tomato juice can help relieve the smell after a run-in with a skunk, as well as being healthy for their coats; shampoo as usual after the treatment. Horses can develop intestinal stones (enteroliths) that can cause blockages. Veterinary researchers at University of California Davis recommend 1-2 cups of apple cider vinegar daily in their water to prevent these stones from forming. In addition, by pouring the vinegar over the feed, flies stay away.
- Poison ivy, oak, sumac, nettles: Mix equal parts of cider vinegar and water and apply directly to the area. By keeping this mixture in a spray bottle in the fridge, the coolness will also help bring more relief.
- Salt replacement: Apple cider vinegar can be used to replace salt, which can be a flavor enhancer for fat. In other words, eating too much salt can cause a person to increase fat consumption. Adding apple cider vinegar to protein foods, including beans, can go a long way in enhancing flavour and be a much healthier substitute for salt.
- Shingles: This is a painful condition of the nerves caused by a herpes virus. Applying apple cider vinegar full strength to the areas 6 or 8 times a day can help the itching and burning. Taking apple cider vinegar internally can help speed healing as well.
- Sinusitis: Drinking a glass of apple cider vinegar TONIC can balance the body’s pH level since sinusitis is sometimes caused by the body being too alkaline. Inhaling the fumes from hot apple cider vinegar and water can also help destroy any virus or bacteria that might also be the cause of an infection.
- Sore throat: Gargling with apple cider vinegar TONIC helps relieve a sore throat – but do not swallow the gargle since you do not want to swallow any microbes that might be the cause. Apple cider vinegar can reduce any swelling and increase the flow of mucus. This is also a good preventative if there is to be much stress placed on the throat, as singing or public speaking.
- Swimmer’s ear: Combining the drying effects of alcohol with the disinfecting properties of apple cider vinegar can help reduce the itching and pain. You can use 3 to 4 drops in the ear after swimming or showering.
- Teeth: Daily rinsing with TONIC can help maintain good oral hygiene and fight bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. However, be sure to rinse well with water afterwards as vinegar can damage tooth enamel in time.
- Tinnitus: This is an annoying condition with any number of causes. Daily consumption of TONIC helps improve mineral balance and circulation, both of which can have a positive effect.
- Ulcers: Apple cider vinegar has been used to help keep stomach ulcers from forming.
- Varicose veins: A number of apple cider authorities recommend soaking a compress in the vinegar and wrapping it around the legs twice a day for a month. The legs should be kept elevated for about ½ hour before removing the compress. Drinking the TONIC before or with meals, along with the soaks, helps as well.
- Warts: Use apple cider vinegar full strength or combine 1 part salt with 4 parts apple cider vinegar and apply several times a day to the wart until it disappears.
- Weight loss: Although fat is necessary for the body to function, most people eat too much of the wrong kinds. Appetite increases as daylight decreases. So does the craving for fat, which is the body’s main line of defense against the cold of winter and possible food shortage. The body uses protein for fuel and carbohydrates for instant energy, but it is fat that provides the resources for long-term energy. Fat insulates vital organs (heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys) as well as keeping the body temperature regulated. It is also involved in certain chemical reactions in the body involving enzymes, hormones, and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Another responsibility added to fat is its role in a healthy nervous system. When fat is combined with phosphorus, lecithin is created. Lecithin plays an important role in the formation of neurotransmitters – chemicals needed for proper functioning of the brain which, in turn, controls such things as appetite, mood, and the ability to learn and remember.Essential fatty acids are essential because they must come from the diet. Manufacturers remove the omega-3 fatty acids to lengthen shelf life. This means omega-6 fatty acids are all we get in most foods. The omegas work in opposition to each other; and by getting too much of one and not enough of the other, health problems result. For example, omega-6s increase blood pressure, blood clotting, and cell proliferation. Omega-3 fatty acids do the exact opposite and, without it, heart problems, diabetes, and cancers – just to name a few – increase.So, what has all this got to do with apple cider vinegar and weight loss? Well, I am glad you asked. Apple cider vinegar helps with gradual weight loss. Fad diets encourage rapid weight loss, which is never permanent. This is how.The acids in apple cider vinegar help to improve the digestion of protein. Protein helps to construct some of our hormones, especially the growth hormone which is instrumental in breaking down fat cells. By increasing the acid in the stomach before a meal begins, the chances for proper digestion of protein also increases. All too often people think they have too much acid because they have heartburn and take an antacid when, in fact, the exact opposite is true. The stomach is too alkaline and pours out more acid to compensate, but antacids are taken instead and the whole vicious cycle begins again.
Proper digestion of protein will also improve carbohydrate conversion and, ultimately, insulin production. Apple cider vinegar starts a process by first raising the metabolism, which increases the body’s ability to utilize proteins for insulin formation. This ultimately improves the transformation of the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, which is a natural mood elevator and tranquilizer. In addition, because apple cider vinegar stimulates and improves digestion, it can reduce the amount of time fats remain in the digestive tract all the while allowing enough time for other nutrients to be absorbed.
All of these chain reactions will send the fats to where they are needed rather than being stored where they are not wanted.
- Bragg, Patricia. Apple Cider Vinegar. 55th edition, 2006.
- Holzapfel, Cynthia. Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss and Good Health. 2002.
- Mindell. Dr. Earl Mindell’s Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar. 2002.
- Rose, Victoria. Apple Cider Vinegar. 2006.
- Stanway, Dr. Penny. The Miracle of Apple Cider Vinegar. 2010.