The Best Things I Learned About Vinegar This Year

by Caitlin Wood

I got laid off unexpectedly this year, and while it’s been a stressful, ego-crumbling experience, it’s also allowed me ample time for soul-searching and psychological inquiry and watching back-to-back episodes of ‘Revenge’ on Netflix.” (Btw, doesn’t Madeleine Stowe look amazing?)

While some of it has been terrible, there are upsides to having so much free time. Consuming every TV show known to man is one, and dressing like the lovechild of Steven Tyler and Mary Kate Olsen is another (my apartment is cold and I really like scarves, okay?). But you can also learn a lot about things from hours spent searching Google. Important, life-changing things, things like Apple Cider Vinegar.

People have been using Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV if you’re, you know, down) for a zillion years, but I only learned about this panacea a few months ago. Maybe it was the unemployment-induced boredom, maybe it’s my obsessive tendencies, but … you can seriously use it for everything: cleaning your house, cleaning your hair, cleaning your skin, cleaning your sinuses, cleaning your liver — it does it all! Unsurprisingly, I got a little overzealous, and after forcing my boyfriend to endure a few too many active-listening sessions about how awesome ACV is, he finally informed me (gently but firmly), that I was “getting a little weird about the vinegar.” Tough love moments can be difficult, but they’re sometimes crucial to maintaining your relationship. And sometimes your delightful best friend will humor you and mail you more vinegar for Christmas/the end of the world, like mine did yesterday.

So what all can your new fermented friend do for you? Remember when I said you can use it for everything? Well, you can use it for everything. If you’re unlike me and into housekeeping, you can use an ACV/water mixture for: steamcleaning your carpets, disinfecting your countertops, scrubbing your wooden or tile floors, banishing the sinful evidence of your bowels broadcasted by a stubborn toilet bowl ring, soaking your gold jewelry to let that bling shine, eliminating your dog’s fleas, and deoderizing your laundry. Also, you can drink it.

Drinking the vinegar balances pH levels, aids in digestion (shoutout to my fellow IBS soldiers), decreases cholesterol, regulates blood pressure, lowers glucose levels, clears your skin and helps prevent colds and sore throats. Not to oversell, but ingesting it is the best thing that will ever happen to you in your entire life.

Also, disclaimer: These are of course just my personal observations and pieces of information I’ve gleaned from the internet (which is never wrong!). Despite having enjoyed a fair share of “ER” reruns and appreciating a crisp lab coat, I’m not actually a doctor.

My vote is for the illuminati of ACV, the Bragg brand. It’s organic and unpasteurized (important factors) and bears an intriguing “with the mother” declaration on its label. The “mother” is the jelly-like layer found in the vinegar that indicates it’s unpasteurized, which is what you want. The Bragg website gives more information about this, answering darkly philosophical questions like “What is the nature of the Mother?” and “Is it okay to eat/drink the Mother?” Short answer: Yes, drink the Mother.

The daily health tonic that I’ve been making is 1–2 tablespoons of ACV in at least 8 ounces of water, 3 times a day. I enjoy the taste, but it’s not for everyone, and you never want to drink it undiluted! For one, it would taste horrendous, but, more important, it could also damage your tooth enamel (high acidic content). However, as long as you’re not taking straight vinegar shots, you should be fine.

This leads me to my last and favorite use for ACV: hot toddies, a.k.a. the only thing I like about winter. You can put ACV in your hot toddy and call it a ‘health drink’ (!), and, actually, it kind of is. Take the usual suspects: bourbon, hot water, lemon, ginger, and honey, and add a tablespoon of the vinegar. Now drink it. You’ll eradicate that cold in no time. Then you can pour out a little vinegar for your homies and clean the bathroom.

Previously: Ask a Woman in a Wheelchair.

Caitlin Wood is a dirty south transplant currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is a writer and co-founder of the disability and pop culture website

Image via Flickr/noahbloom