30 Oct What you need to know before buying apple cider vinegar
If you’ve finally decided to give this whole ACV thing a swig, you quite likely ended up in the aisle of a health store (or if you’re anything like us – with more tabs open than you know what to do with) and found yourself utterly bewildered by all the options. I feel your pain. It’s not easy being a health nut or an ingredient/ label detective at that. So to empower you to get the right stuff and not waste any precious time or money on inferior vinegar, here’s all the lingo you need to know when it comes to buying apple cider vinegar.
This simply means the apple cider vinegar hasn’t been over processed or strained to produce a vinegar with more clarity. To recognise an unfiltered one is truly unfiltered, look for a cloudy vinegar.
You’ll want to get unfiltered ACV because it’s:
- Better for drinking as a health, digestive or general wellness tonic
- It contains more of the nutrients (and living bacteria)
But keep in mind with unfiltered ACV:
- Because the bacteria isn’t strained out, it continues to ferment
- May make the acidity or flavour increase slightly over time
- For drinking – simply dilute to adjust for taste and still get all the benefits
- For cooking – be aware of change in flavour over time and compensate accordingly or use filtered alternatives
You might then wonder why if the unfiltered one is so much healthier, would you be buying filtered apple cider vinegar?
These are the filtered ACV perks:
- Better for use in household cleaning and disinfecting (not necessarily for efficacy, more consistency)
- Better suited for beauty uses like hair rinses and skin toners
- Can be less expensive than unfiltered ACV varieties
If you’re buying apple cider vinegar for health reasons, unpasteurized is always better. This means it hasn’t gone through any heating process to pasteurize the vinegar. The heating process may be done to kill off any bad bacteria – but it will also rob the cider of its health-giving good bacteria.
Chances are if ACV is unpasteurized, it will contain ‘the mother. You’ll recognise these by the slightly wispy, white cobweb-like strands lurking around the bottom of the bottle. It can also give the overall liquid a very subtle congealed vibe going for it. It’s okay this is good.
These strands, known as the “mother”, are made of natural carbohydrate and bacterial cells that develop in alcoholic liquids during the fermentation process.
Why you want ‘the mother’:
- Strands contain living bacteria and enzymes
- Considered as ‘living food” rich in live probiotic colonies
If steering well clear of the risk of pesticides is important to you, then looking out for apple cider vinegar marked as organic is probably wise. This doesn’t necessarily mean that competitor brands are using loads of chemicals – it might just mean that they haven’t gone to the lengths to be certified as organic because this can be quite costly and you, as the consumer, could end up paying far more for certified organic products. But if you want to make sure you’re getting organic – buy organic.
You may also see reference to the quality in the type of apples used. Some brands mention ‘heirloom’ or ‘old world’ or ‘whole’ apples. This just gives you a further indication that they’re making an effort to produce their ACV from likely non-GMO produce.
- You’ll want organic, no matter what the use, health, cleaning or beauty – because who really wants nasties in their personal space.
‘Raw’ refers to vinegar that hasn’t gone through either filtration or pasteurization, the use of any other chemical processes (usually in the apple farming stages) or any added flavourings. Essentially it’s one word, to sum up, 4 powerful benefits.
- Raw apple cider vinegar is better suited for health tonics than household or beauty uses (likely because of price)
This speaks to the percentile acidity strength of the apple cider vinegar. Most top quality brands range between 4-5% acidity. If an apple cider vinegar claims to be ‘double strength’, it’s usually around the 8% mark in acidity, meaning it’s higher in malic and acetic acids. The great alkalizing benefit of consuming apple cider vinegar which has a ph of around 3.1 to 5, is that in the breaking down of this acid, the effect on your body is alkalizing (same principle goes for lemons). So if a vinegar is more acidic, it’s alkalizing effect on your body during digestion is increased. So to recap:
- Double strength vinegar has a higher acidity
- They’re likely more alkalizing on the body
- They can be almost twice as expensive
Keep this in mind before you gulp it down
People, this stuff is still after all purported health claims and benefits, an acid. So, while drinking it as a daily health tonic is a good thing for encouraging digestive health, the balance of your insulin levels and alkalizing the body, it’s still best done, diluted in a cup of warm water. No need to be brave here, you’re just going to cause irritation to the gums and throat by drinking it neat.