Apple cider vinegar is one of those amazing, all-purpose products that you buy for one thing but end up using for almost anything but your original intention. Like other natural liquids–such as white vinegar, lemon juice, and good old water–apple cider vinegar has a variety of properties that come in handy for remedying almost any health or household situation with the serendipitous ease with which it was originally discovered (by accident, when grapes were left out too long even past the wine phase). The slow, natural fermentation by which it’s made allows for the build up of good-for-you bacteria, which can help fight off the less-good-for-you ailments that sometimes creep into our bodies and homes, even when we’re living an ultra-clean lifestyle.
Found in most grocery stories, ACV will cost you less than $7 for 32 oz., which go a long way in providing abundant, unexpected remedies for things such as:
1. Regulating health conditions: Vinegar works with digestive enzymes in your gut to block the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats. This is great news for: a) diabetics, whose blood sugar can be lowered with regular consumption of ACV (just 2 tablespoons per night before bed has shown to lower blood sugar in diabetics by 6 percent in the morning); and b) those with heart conditions, who can see drops in cholesterol with ACV. The acid can also help to solve discomfort from having too little acid in your belly, the ironic cause behind indigestion and acid reflux.
2. Healing skin ailments: The strong acidic properties of ACV will (literally) burn* off unsightly and uncomfortable skin conditions like rashes, bug bites, and common warts. For minor irritations, simply apply a light coating with a cotton ball or swab. For more insistent irritations, like warts, apply a piece of sterile cotton soaked in ACV to the wart and wrap it up with medical or duct tape overnight; repeat every night for a few days until the wart turns black and falls off.
3. Detoxing: Potassium and enzymes in ACV help to give the body and metabolism a boost of energy if you’re eliminating foods from your diet for the long-term and short-term. By preventing the breakdown of sugar and speeding up the breakdown of fats, it also speeds along the process of cleansing the body of excess carbs and fats even if you’re not actively ingesting them. As an acid, it also helps maintain a healthy alkaline pH balance in the blood. A great way to start the day (detoxing or not) is with a cleansing drink, made of water, cinnamon, lemon juice, raw honey, and ACV.
4. Beauty: ACV makes an easy weekly hair rinse to boost shine and balance the scalp’s pH (mix 1/3 c. ACV with 4 c. water). It also helps eliminate odors, and can thereby be part of a natural deodorant (for underarms and feet) or mouth wash.*
5. Natural cleaner: Depending on the level of dilution, ACV can gently or aggressively remove household toxins. Use it to clean everyday surfaces (mixed in a solution with water, or with water and lemon juice), as a produce wash (in a 9:1 ratio of water:ACV), or as a weed killer. It can also substitute for plain white vinegar for the super-cleaning solution of vinegar* + baking soda, which does everything from removing stubborn stains or baked-on food from dishes and pots, declogging drains, and refreshing stainless steel appliances like teapots, cookware, or tea infusers.
6. Cooking: Perhaps not as surprising, there are many great dressings, sauces, and marinades that feature the sweet and tangy taste of ACV. It pairs well with bitter ingredients like ginger and miso and can be used in place of balsamic vinegar. For apple-inspired desserts, ACV is a great choice when substituting eggs for (1 t. baking soda + 1 T. vinegar = 1 egg). One of my favorite combinations for a creamy dressing/dip (if you make it a little thicker) is:
1/4 c. tahini
2 T. ACV
1 T. raw honey
1 T. spicy mustard
1/4 c. lemon juice
*Some words of caution:
ACV is very strong, so always dilute it with water when ingesting it (it can burn the inside of the mouth or esophagus) or putting it near the eyes. If you use it on your skin, such as for wart care, try applying some petroleum jelly or similar product to the skin around the wart so you don’t damage the healthy skin. It also has a strong taste and odor, so I wouldn’t recommend using large amounts in recipes or detox drinks at first, until you know your personal limit. Note, too, that excessive use on the surface of the body (skin and hair) may leave a slight lingering odor.
How do you use ACV?
Related: All Natural Ways to Clean Your Home
Photos: Jennifer Kurdyla