An Apple A Day
Do you remember the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Toula says, “My dad believed in two things: That Greeks should educate non-Greeks about being Greek and every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy can be cured with Windex.”
Well, perhaps Windex isn’t the miracle cure of the world, but something just as cheap and readily available might well be.
It’s a food. No, it’s a medicine. No, it’s a cleaner. Actually, it’s all of those! One of the most versatile products on the planet for your health is also one of the most humble. Say hello to apple cider vinegar.
What to Buy
I know it’s temping to buy the gallon size bottle at the grocery store for $5, and that’s not bad for some of its household uses. However, if you want the best nutrition, go with raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered and organic.
Why go to the trouble of all of these things? First, when you pasteurize apple cider vinegar (ACV), you kill the enzymes that make it so potent. When you filter it, you lose the mother, which is the life. Organic is important because apples are on the dirty dozen list as the second most pesticide-laden produce.
I know that most of us have been scared by anything unpasteurized, but in the case of apple cider vinegar, there is very little to worry about. Because of the acidity of vinegar, almost nothing can survive the harsh environment inside that bottle.
We use Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar in our house because the company has been around for almost a century and we trust their product. Amazon.com has the best price.
These are some of my favorite ways to use ACV, because you’re getting amazing nutrition into your body, and it’s tasty!
Bragg’s recommends taking the vinegar internally three times per day, 1-2 teaspoons at a time, in water or juice. You may add 1-2 teaspoons of honey if you like. This is amazing at aiding digestion, so if you suffer from bowel problems or heartburn, get started ASAP.
We make our own salad dressing in minutes, altering our basic recipe with herbs when the whim hits us:
- 2/3 to 3/4 c. olive oil
- 1 c. ACV
- 2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
- 1 clove garlic (two if you like a lot)
Blend well and place in a glass jar. We leave it on the counter, but some people like to refrigerate for up to three weeks.
Another great tip is that soaking beans overnight in half water and half apple cider vinegar helps reduce the bean’s flatulence factor.
The Natural Medicine Cabinet
Relieve itching from bug bites by pouring a bit of apple cider vinegar onto a cotton ball and dabbing it directly on the bite.
Relieve the sting of sunburn by lightly rubbing it with vinegar. You may have to reapply. Do NOT apply to blistered skin, as a blister may have opened and exposed the skin underneath. This can be painful (trust me, I’ve done it).
A teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of water will help soothe a sore throat. I like to use warmish water and gargle for two minutes.
This vinegar is also great for blemishes. Mix 1 tablespoon into 8 oz. of water, then dab on the pimple three times per day. It’s anti-bacterial and helps reduce inflammation.
Because of ACV’s natural ability to destroy fungal infections, it is a great home remedy for athlete’s foot. Use a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water and soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes per day. This will also help ease the itching and peeling associated with athlete’s foot.
It’s also fantastic for two other fungal infections, dandruff and diaper rash. For dandruff, pour straight vinegar on the scalp and allow to stand for 30-60 minutes, then rinse. For babies’ delicate skin, mix water and vinegar 50/50 and allow to air dry.
Weight Loss and Health
According to Webmd.com, studies have found that apple cider vinegar may help lower blood glucose levels. What a fantastic find! One study suggested people with type II diabetes take 2 tablespoons of ACV before bed, but be sure to contact your health care provider if you want to try this remedy.
Because vinegar contains chromium, it may alter your insulin levels. As a diabetic, you will need to be monitored when using apple cider vinegar.
No one is exactly sure how, but the vinegar seems to have an appetite suppressant effect when taken before meals. Patricia Bragg’s formula of 2 tsp in a glass of water (with or without honey) is the recommended dosage. The weight loss will be slow and gradual.
For the cleaning section, you can use pasteurized vinegar, since you’re not ingesting the product. Maybe it’s just me, but at least a couple of times per month I forget a load of laundry in the washer for a day or two (or, cough, three). Now the clothes reek of mold, of course. The best solution is 1 cup of vinegar added to the next wash cycle.
Apple cider vinegar is also great for removing perspiration stains from clothes. Mix 1 part vinegar to four parts water, soak for ten minutes and rinse. Then you can launder as usual.
Plain vinegar is fantastic for cleaning mirrors and other glass. It’s best to use crumpled up newspaper for the job, since it won’t leave streaks or lint. You can still recycle this paper since it doesn’t have toxic chemicals on it.
My favorite way to clean toilets is to dump in a cup of apple cider vinegar and let it stand for 30-60 minutes. It takes the smells and stains away, and with three kids five and under, we need both removed! It’s also fantastic for mineral deposits like in coffee makers, or to clean showers and sinks if you have hard water.
Make Your Own Apple Cider Vinegar
That’s right, I said make your own. You can do this the easy way of the hard way, it’s up to you. If you purchase hard cider that is 5-6% alcohol by volume, you’re golden. I personally like Strongbow, but that’s just me.
If you’re under 21 or have access to lots of fresh cider, by all means make your apple cider vinegar from freshly pressed, unpasteurized cider. It’s easy to find during autumn throughout most of the country. This is a longer process, but not labor-intensive.
Here’s “the how” for vinegar made from hard cider:
- Fill a clean wide-mouthed glass jar with 16 ounces of 5 to 6% hard apple cider.
- Add 1.5 ounces of unpasteurized and unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar which contains some mother of vinegar (I recommend Bragg’s). This will quick-start the vinegar making process.
- Cover the jar top with two layers of cheesecloth. This will allow vinegar bacteria and oxygen from the air to get to the surface of the cider without being contaminated with fruit flies and other pests.
- After about 2 weeks there will be a gelatinous white film floating on top of the liquid, this is the mother of vinegar, which is produced by the vinegar bacteria as it converts the alcohol into vinegar (acetic acid).Place the jar in a warm room but in a dark place away from sunlight, which will interfere with the action of the bacteria. The optimum temperature for vinegar making is about 85 degrees.
- Allow the reaction to proceed for at least 4 to 8 weeks, then, if you started with a hard cider with 6% alcohol content, you should have a vinegar with about 5% acetic acid.
- The age-old method for determining if the vinegar is complete is to simply smell and taste it. No odor or flavor of alcohol should be present. A far more accurate way is to measure the acid content by titration. Inexpensive titration kits can be found at your local wine and beer making shop or online.
- Don’t discard the mother! If you’re not ready to start making more vinegar, store the mother in some of the vinegar you’ve just made. When you begin again, just toss the mother into 16 oz. hard cider and you are able to skip two weeks of waiting for new vinegar!
There are literally hundreds of other uses for apple cider vinegar, but these are the ones I use most. I’d love to hear what works for you!