There are apple cider vinegars, and then there are apple cider vinegars. What makes one better than the other? Is apple cider vinegar simply a souring agent for cooking acid used in the making of condiments and dressing salads or does it have any health benefits?
Let us first examine what the term “Mother” refers to on the label of an apple cider vinegar bottle. If you are familiar with fermentation processes of any kind, be it sourdough bread, yogurt or kefir making, Kombucha, etc., you will have an idea of what this might mean. In the context of sourdough bread, a “mother starter” is a small quantity of the bacteria that actually aids the fermentation for the whole batch of dough. Similarly, in the context of apple cider vinegar, “mother” refers to a colony of healthy, gut-friendly bacteria that act as a catalyst for fermentation. But, why is this important? The gut-friendly bacteria present in apple cider vinegar helps in dissolving cholesterol deposits in arteries, and helps in keeping blood sugar and blood pressure in control.
Another important advantage of consuming apple cider vinegar with the mother is in digestive health. Enzymes present in a vinegar that contains the mother help break down foods and make them easier to digest. Problems of acid reflux often arise from low levels of good acid (which aids digestion). Research has shown that this problem can be contained to some extent with regular consumption of a spoonful of apple cider vinegar with the mother, diluted in water because such vinegar contains acetic acid and other beneficial compounds, as opposed to filtered apple cider vinegar, which has been heated to clarify it. Such filtered and heated vinegar is more suitable for cleaning purposes!
It is important, therefore, to pick the right kind of apple cider vinegar. You may have noticed that most bottles of vinegar contain a clear liquid. Such vinegar does not contain the mother. Vinegars that have a cloudy appearance and have some sediment at the bottom of the bottle are more likely to contain the mother. All you have to do is make sure you shake the bottle well before every use, so you get a little bit of the mother with each use!