Raw, unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar (not the sterile, distilled, nutrition-less apple cider vinegar sold in grocery stores) has mainly been used for centuries for its health benefits (and some surprising benefits in and around the household). I have been buying and using Bragg's apple cider vinegar off and on for at least 40 years, but only lately have I become convinced that this unassuming vinegar is potent for my health. (There are other brands, but Bragg's has national distribution in natural foods stores and in many grocery stores, and has been around almost a hundred years.)
Now I have learned I can make it myself. There are 2 basic processes; one is by the purists who first make real hard (alcoholic) cider as the base. The other, easy home-method, is starting with freshly pressed apple juice, adding the culture and processing...
I'll cover both ways in following posts, but first... why should anyone use raw, organic ACV daily, what will it do for each of us, and why bother to make my own?
There is so much emphasis today in marketing about everything being pasteurized or irradiated to become sterile (thus devoid of health benefits) that I'm sure an immediate concern, if you are unfamiliar with raw apple cider vinegar, is that raw ACV is not pasteurized. Vinegars in general, raw or distilled, have antiseptic properties. Raw vinegar is perfectly safe because pathogens cannot live in that acidic solution. Because it is raw, it contains all the natural acids, enzymes, minerals and nutrients that are destroyed from distilled apple cider vinegar in processing.
Raw apple cider vinegar taken internally helps the body with digestion, metabolism of minerals (esp. calcium), balance pH, support the immune system, and is said to help control weight and help longevity. Applied externally, it soothes skin problems and helps aching muscles.
Around the house, raw vinegar is an excellent all-purpose cleaner, particularly in the kitchen and bath. Use it in cooking by adding a bit to the water for poaching eggs... it helps them clump. Add some to potato or cauliflower cooking water to keep veggies whiter. Add some to gelatin to help hold it firm, and to the water for boiling eggs so the whites don't leak from cracks in the shells.
Use raw vinegar to clean galvanized metal objects before painting. Add some to animal/pet water to reduce pet odors, keep coats shiny, and promote health.
Bragg's advertises their "Bragg Healthy Cocktail" is designed to flush out wastes that are clogging the organs of elimination, the bowels, lungs, skin, and the kidneys. Take it at least twice a day, and you will start to see changes like increased energy, soft skin, and decreased muscle and joint aches from exercise. Make sure you use raw, organic vinegar, never dead, distilled vinegar because the natural enzymes, minerals, and nutrients are destroyed in the distilling process. Any vinegar that is clear and has no "mother" (the strand-like substance in the bottom of the bottle) has no nutritional value. Natural raw vinegar should be pungent, with a rich, brownish color and a visible "mother."
Patricia Bragg, N.D. Ph.D., Health Crusader and daughter of founder Paul Bragg, recommends a "healthy cocktail" of 2 teaspoons of their ACV twice daily, in distilled water, sweetened with a natural sugar if you prefer. I don't sweeten mine as I rather like the taste, and I don't use distilled water, although I do avoid using chlorinated water. I took 2 tsp. twice daily for about a month, and now generally take it just in the mornings, or just at bedtime. There was an almost immediate, noticeable difference in how I felt.
It seems to me that something used for great benefits for so many centuries deserves merit. ACV was used by the Egyptians as far back as 3000 BCE, used as well as the Babylonians, and Julius Caesar's army used a vinegar tonic to stay healthy and fight off disease. Hippocrates, in 400 BC, treated his patients with apple cider vinegar.
The Greeks and Romans kept vinegar 'vessels' for healing, and for flavoring and preserving food. In Paris, vinegar was sold by the barrel and was used for deodorant, and for a delicious tonic drink to keep the body ageless. Even Christopher Columbus took vinegar barrels for his sailors on his long sea travels to prevent scurvy and disinfect wounds.
There is nothing 'magical' in Bragg's ACV; it is simply a raw apple cider vinegar (which you can make) with a bit of the 'mother' still in the bottle. ('Mother' is the substance containing various bacteria that forms on the surface of liquids undergoing acetous fermentation. It can be added to wine, cider, etc. to promote vinegar formation. Also called "mother of vinegar."