By now, we’ve all heard the laundry list of potential health benefits that come with consuming apple cider vinegar (ACV): lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, weight loss, clear skin, energy boosts, lower risk of heart disease, better digestion, and oh, the list goes on.
Here’s the problem: We’re not all drinking it because the taste is tough. Thanks to the strong vinegar smell and acidity, the healthy fermented vinegar ends up sitting in our pantry, untouched. Here's the good news: There are ways to bypass ACV’s natural taste and smell. If you're wondering how to use apple cider vinegar in your everyday life, these tips can help.
1. Coat Your Greens in Homemade Dressing
It's not rocket science. It's just a matter of making a couple changes to your home-cooking regimen. Ariane Resnick, CNC, says the easiest way to consume ACV is to swap out any vinegar in a salad dressing with ACV. “If you really don’t like the taste, pair it with a stronger flavor like balsamic and use half the amount for each,” she says. “A heavily flavored oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, will also help mask the cider vinegar taste.”
Pegah Jalali, MS, RD, agrees: “I recommend making a vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, ACV, and mustard.” Now you can get your greens and your ACV at the same time. Win-win.
2. Make an ACV Mocktail
We like this one because ACV really does make a mocktail taste more celebratory (a.k.a. like there's alcohol in it). And you won’t even realize you’re drinking it when you put it in a healthy mocktail form. Experiment with your mocktail of choice by combining fresh fruit, herbs, and a little seltzer water.
Jalali likes to dress up her ACV by adding a tablespoon or two to seltzer water, muddled strawberries, basil, and ice for a refreshing mocktail. The taste gives you the vibe of drinking a delicious cocktail at the bar, but this one is good for you.
3. Don't Shrug Off Shrubs
For centuries, vinegar-based syrups, also known as shrubs, have been used in mixed drinks. And you can use them to get your dose of ACV (not just to sweeten a cocktail). Resnick explains how to make your own: “The standard recipe for a shrub is 1:1:1, meaning 2 cups of chopped fruit, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 cups of vinegar. Combine all the ingredients in a jar and let it hang out for a couple of days, stirring or shaking occasionally. After two days, strain out the fruit, which will be broken down and mushy, and you'll be left with a syrup.”
The syrup works well in cocktails and desserts and is used most simply “by adding a splash to a glass of sparkling water for a grown-up take on soda,” Resnick says.
Worried about all that sugar? We say try to scale back on and use honey instead. It won’t be as sweet, but combined with the fruit, we think you’ll make out just fine. Also, you're only consuming a couple tablespoons max at one time, so don't worry that you're taking in a cup of honey in one sitting.
4. Vinegarize Smoothies
OK, we made up that word, but you know what we mean. Just as you hide the taste of kale and spinach in your smoothies, you can also mask ACV. Add a tablespoon of ACV to your favorite smoothie ingredients and blend away. Bananas and apples are great for masking the ACV taste, and spices like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice work great for whipping up a fall-inspired smoothie.
5. Go Gut-Healthy With Sauerkraut
Crunchy, tart sauerkraut is a food that works really well with ACV. All you have to do is slice up half a head of cabbage into thin strips and add it into a large bowl with 5 teaspoons of coarse-grained salt. Work the salt into the cabbage with your hands for about 10 minutes, or until the cabbage becomes soft and moisture is being released. Mix in other seasonings like caraway seeds, red chili flakes, or yellow mustard seeds (whatever you fancy).
Tightly pack the cabbage into mason jars, leaving some room at the top for something to weigh it down. Pour in any leftover liquid from the bowl and one to two teaspoons of ACV into each jar.
Weigh down cabbage with a clean stone (or whatever you have on hand that will keep the cabbage submerged in the liquid—marbles, extra cabbage leaves, plastic bag filled with water, etc.—and place a cheesecloth over the top and secure tightly. Over the next few days, press down cabbage as the liquid begins to release. Skim off any residue that forms.
Ferment for about a week, tasting cabbage after three days. Once the cabbage reaches your preferred taste, remove the stone and place in a container in the fridge. Sauerkraut can be refrigerated for up to two months.
6. DIY Pickles
Skip the store-bought jars because Resnick says that ACV is a natural match for making pickles at home. It makes sense since they already have that vinegar taste. A quick method for pickling is called “quick pickling” or “refrigerator pickles” and doesn’t involve canning.
Mix water, ACV, one to two teaspoons of salt, and a pinch of sugar in a mason jar to your taste preference. Add in vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, onion, carrots, and radishes and soak at least overnight. These quick-pickled veggies last about a week in the fridge.
7. Buy Store-Bought Flavored ACV
Many companies are creating pre-made, flavored ACV drinking vinegars and beverages to help consumers get the health benefits of ACV without the sour taste. Giusto Sapore makes “Appleganic” ACV drinking vinegars in flavors like “Delight” with cinnamon and turmeric and “Fiery” with turmeric, ginger, and chili.
Bragg makes ACV beverages in flavors like limeade, ginger spice, and Concord grape-acai. Homemade options are great and all, but we like this option for convenience.
Tips for Consuming Apple Cider Vinegar
Now that you know you can get ACV into your diet more often, let's make sure you're making the most of this new habit.
Save the shots for the bar.
ACV isn’t one of the foods you should take straight out of a shot glass. You should always dilute your ACV when drinking it. It’s extremely acidic and drinking it straight may burn the tissues in your mouth and throat, and could also erode the enamel on your teeth. A 10-to-1 (water to ACV) ratio is best, or 1 tablespoon of ACV to one glass of water. Rinse your mouth with water or eat after consuming, and wait at least 30 minutes before you brush your teeth.
Look for “mother” strands.
The mother is what gives you the health benefits from ACV and also what gives ACV its murkiness. The mother strand contains probiotics, which may help your digestive and immune systems run smoothly, and enzymes, which are essential for breaking down food into nutrients.
Don’t heat ACV.
Sautéing or boiling your ACV in food will kill the beneficial bacteria so it totally defeats the purpose. It's best to take your ACV in the ways suggested above.