apple cider vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is reputed to have magical properties and be the cure for all ails. But is it really a magic elixir from the ‘Fountain of Youth’, a fighter of disease and killer of germs? There is the fact that apple cider vinegar contains all the health benefits of apples, concentrated into a liquid that is packed with essential amino acids and enzymes containing many vitamins and minerals. And if you consider that humans sometimes need tiny quantities of trace elements for good health and that a tiny deficiency can result in sickness, it stands to reason that something packed with many of these elements is good for you.

While scientific evidence suggests that ‘an apple a day may not keep the doctor away’, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar may do the trick, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to give it a try. Besides, prevention, they say, is better than a cure.

What is vinegar?

Vinegar is produced when an acidic alcoholic liquid like wine, beer or cider is exposed to air, changing the alcohol into acetic acid and water. This acetous fermentation process is due to a small microorganism, vinegar bacillus, that occurs naturally in the air and gobbles up the alcohol and excretes acid. The acetic acid gives vinegar its characteristic tart tang, also found in pickles and sourdough bread.

Studies on the benefits of acetic acid have found that it reduces blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure and reduces inflammation, making it ideal for the smooth running of a body. Beware of going overboard, however, as too much can make you sick, as with many things. A tablespoon a day in water or in your salad dressing is plenty for maintaining a healthy system.

Fighting germs

I use a combination of honey, hot water, fresh ginger and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to sooth my kid’s sore throats, and add the Hot Toddy whiskey part for the adults in the family. Itches and burns get a vinegar-moistened cloth to cool and relieve, and I swear by vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to squeaky-clean my kitchen. Vinegar is considered by many to aid digestion by attacking harmful bacteria in the gut, and a healthy gut is a healthy body. There are many other theories and uses for apple cider vinegar not mentioned here. Suffice it to say, it’s good stuff and worth making your own.

Make your own

There are different ways of making vinegar. Speed it up by adding yeast or ‘mother-of-vinegar’ – the scum that forms on the top of cider when alcohol turns into vinegar – or go the long way around and start by making the cider and then letting the air turn it into vinegar. The easiest way, if not the quickest, is to cut up apples and put them into clean sterilised jars. Fill to the top with cold water and cover with cheesecloth. Leave in a warm place for 4 – 6 months and then strain off the vinegar.

Note: Don’t use commercially made apple juice for making vinegar – it usually contains preservatives, which will hamper the fermentation process. 

Cooking with apple cider vinegar

Use apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice when making salad dressings, marinades for a sweet/sour flavour, and for pickling.

The screw press was invented In the 13th century to replace the stone mill for extracting apple juice to make cider. Today we have commercial juicers, but you can still buy a cider press to make the experience more authentic.

For serving with lunch or dinner, this quick pickle is perfect for several veggies including radishes, carrots, onion slices, sliced beetroot, cucumber, beans, lemons, cabbage, peppers, asparagus, cauliflower, fennel and squashes.

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Place the coriander seeds and peppercorns in a saucepan and heat until they start releasing their aroma. Add the vinegar and honey and cook for 2 minutes. Cut the veggies into manageable pieces and pour the pickling liquid over them. Let this stand for at least 10 minutes, and drain before serving.

Please note that if you are on medication or have a specific illness, please consult your doctor before adding vinegar to your diet.

The Gardener