What is Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother?

What is the mother in apple cider vinegar

I use apple cider vinegar a lot. From making cleaning recipes to its many health benefits, ACV is a staple in our home.

For cleaning, any vinegar will do. In food or drink recipes though, I always use an organic and unrefined version of apple cider vinegar with “the Mother.”

Over the years, my mentions of “vinegar with the mother,” have gotten a lot of questions. Readers ask what “the mother” means and how to find it, so I wanted to fully explain exactly what it is and why it is important.

Here’s why:

What is Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother?

In short, it is apple cider vinegar that still has the culture of beneficial bacteria that turns regular apple cider into vinegar in the first place. This is similar to the SCOBY (also called a “mother”) in Kombucha making.

Pasteurized vs. Unrefined & Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

In ACV particularly, “the mother” is a complex structure of beneficial acids that seem to have health benefits. Unrefined vinegars have a murky appearance and typically still contain the mother culture. Clear and pasteurized vinegars typically do not contain the mother culture and don’t carry the same benefits.

Refined and clear vinegars are great for cleaning as they don’t leave residue. Raw, unfiltered and unrefined versions contain many more beneficial properties for culinary uses.

How Apple Cider Vinegar is Made

The word vinegar comes from the latin words vinum (wine) and acer (sour) and in essence vinegar is just that: sour wine.

Organic unfiltered vinegars have a long history of use, having been discovered thousands of years ago!

Folklore claims that Cleopatra once dissolved a pearl in vinegar and drank it in order to win a bet with Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony). She wagered that she could spend a fortune on a single meal. Vinegar is mention in the Bible and Hippocrates often recommended it for a variety of ailments.

Any carbohydrate or alcohol in theory can become vinegar. Carbohydrates are made into an alcohol through a process of careful fermentation.

The (non-distilled) alcohol in beer, wine or cider is exposed to air and a group of bacteria (acetobacter) that convert the alcohols into acetic acid.

In unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar, this beneficial group of bacteria and acids remains and creates the murky web-like “Mother.”

This type of vinegar gained commercial popularity in the 1930s:

In 1394, a group of French vintners developed a continuous method for making vinegar called the Orleans method. In this method, oak barrels were used as fermentation vessels and the vinegar was siphoned off through a spigot at the bottom of the barrel. About 15% of the vinegar was left behind which contained the “mother of vinegar” and its concentrated bacteria floating on top. A new batch of cider or wine was carefully added to the barrel and was quick started by the remaining vinegar. (source)

This is similar to the process for continuous brew kombucha, and at the time, it allowed these Frenchmen to satisfy the growing market for vinegars. They went on to create infused vinegars with herbs, spices, and fruits to meet the growing demand.

Benefits of The Mother in Apple Cider Vinegar

As with many things in nature, vinegar in its unfiltered, unadulterated and unrefined form has a variety of benefits that are lost when it is filtered and heated.

The acetic acid created in the secondary fermentation process is a component of the finished vinegar and has a host of benefits on its own. Certain medications contain acetic acid in concentrated form and studies have looked at the role of acetic acid in balancing blood sugar, blood pressure and dissolving cholesterol deposits in arteries.

More research is needed, but acetic acid in vinegar has a long history of use in alternative medicine.

Cleaning and Preserving

The high acid content in vinegar makes it a powerful preservative for food and it is often also recommended in cleaning for this reason. In fact, historically, vinegars were added to water to make the water more drinkable.

It is important to note that vinegar has some limitations as a natural cleaner and that it is not a registered disinfectant for disinfecting uses. A hydrogen peroxide based formula is a better choice and strong natural soaps (like this one) are better for degreasing.

Digestive Support

Digestive problems and acid reflux can often be from too little stomach acid rather than too much. Apple cider vinegar is a simple and really inexpensive remedy for low stomach acid. Personally, I’ve found relief from minor heartburn by adding 1 teaspoon of vinegar to water and drinking.

Immune Support

ACV also has a long history of use for immune support. According to legend, thieves during the bubonic plague survived by making an herbal vinegar with herbs like rosemary, thyme and lavender.

The “mother,” which provides immune boosting properties on its own, also allows the vinegar to get stronger over time and maintain its beneficial properties.

Beautiful Hair

The beneficial acids in the “mother” of apple cider vinegar are also great for hair, and this is one reason that ACV is often recommended as a hair rinse for conditioning hair and increasing shine.

For Healthy Skin

Unrefined Apple Cider Vinegar is also often used in skin remedies and beauty recipes. It can be used to help sunburns, skin rashes and mosquito bites (I typically dilute 50:50 with water).

Blood Sugar Balance

Unrefined apple cider vinegar, high in beneficial compounds, is also known for its ability to help keep blood sugar in check. It isn’t a wonder drug, but studies have shown that it can help lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. (source)

Other studies have shown the benefits of ACV in helping improve cholesterol levels, and support heart health.

Where to buy Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother

Most grocery stores should carry it, or you can purchase it online on as well.

Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother: Bottom Line

Apple cider vinegar with the mother is simply unrefined, unpasteurized and unfiltered ACV. The “mother” is a colony of beneficial bacteria, similar to a Kombucha SCOBY, that helps create vinegar through a secondary fermentation process.

Vinegar is high in acetic acid and other beneficial compounds. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar may have more benefits that filtered and heated types of vinegar (though those types can work well for cleaning).

Does your vinegar have a mother?

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Reader Comments

  1. think you have a typo…. “Digestive problems and acid reflux can often be from too little stomach acid rather than too little” you say often be from too little… rather than too little”. Did you mean too little… rather than too much?

      • Hmmm…been seeing this for awhile but never really thought about its real potentials

  2. Thank you that is a really helpful overview. I never used to know if I should be scared of the weird floaty stuff in the bottom of the bottle or embrace it. I guess I should embrace it!

    • Thank you! That is the reason I logged on here. I didn’t know if I should shake up the bottle…lol

      • I logged on here to find the answer to this question too. Still unsure

  3. Apple cider vinegar with the mother is also excellent for poultry (and other animals). Added to the water it is a natural wormer, and when added to wet grains and soaked for several days it produces a fermented feed that allows 80-90% digestion vs 25% for dry grain feed, plus the bacteria increases to probiotics in their gut.

    • Wow.. Good to know!

  4. Thank you for your great post. Would love to know the amounts of vinegar you use along with water for animals to worm and for soaking grains. Is there a book out that would have more information? Greatly appreciate any advise you can give. Again, thank you for such a informative, low cost way to improve animal health and food.

  5. I use ACV for my little dog’s kidney/urine problems – a capful added to food 1/day stops her severe distress of constant urination and she’s now happy and no longer upset by this. Not sure how it works but it it certainly does the job.

  6. Hi, is it possible to put one scoby into the ACV? And where I live there is a pineapple vinegar, do you know about it? I would like to know what are the benefits of this PCV, thank you

  7. How much should someone “take” each day to enjoy the benefits? I am especially interested in blood sugar, cholesterol and the digestive benefits. Does a store like Whole Food offer the “mother cider?”


  8. I am using ACV as a drink twice a day and it has improved my digestion.

    • With or without the mother?

  9. I’ve been reading up on your Kombucha (sp) recipe and articles. How different is it from water keifer? Which has the best health benefits? If I should invest in this, how much can I drink daily? After all, there is only one of me 🙂 I appreciate the fact that in all your articles you place links to all that is needed, such as, the best place to buy the SCOBY, etc. Another question I have is what is the mother in ACV mother? In this instance, you didn’t place a link to where you could buy the correct ACV. I’ve used it for a long time but not for drinking. Over 60 years ago, I developed RA and read all I could get my hands on about it. One book recommended ACV and honey. It didn’t help me but my mother tried it and swore by it for her osteo arthritis.

    I know this is a lot of questions but hope you won’t mind enlightening me.

  10. How much should someone take a day for blood sugar, cholesterol and and digestion?


    • Yes, I’m a diabetic and worry about the sugar I put in keifer, so this question is for me also 🙂

      • the sugar gets eaten up in the fermentation process as I understand it

  11. If I make kombucha with a scoby and apple cider (instead of tea) will that turn into ACV?

    • Sort of, but I’ll be writing more about this soon…

  12. Does the raw unpasturized ACV need to be refrigerated?

    • I keep mine in the fridge after opening…

  13. Do you know if the unrefined, unpasteurized and unfiltered ACV comes in a capsule form? I simply can’t bring myself to drink it. Please let me know. Thank you

    • It does, but it’s not as effective and it’s also not a good idea to swallow concentrated acids like that…

  14. Can you add filtered pasteurized ACV to the unfiltered unpasteurized with-the-mother ACV and thus turn it all into the good stuff?

  15. My ACV contains “The Mother” and I use it once a week as a hair rinse. First I dilute with distilled water, then I add 1 or 2 drops of essential oil. My favorites are lavender, peppermint, or jasmine. At the very end of my shower I carefully pour the mixture onto my hair and then rinse it out with more distilled water. This last step is important, because the tap water in my area is extremely hard, so rinsing my hair out with tap water after an ACV rinse would defeat the purpose. When my hair dries, it is noticeably softer, shinier, and even curlier! I love the way my hair looks and feels on those days.

  16. Drinking your dose at once or throughout the day? GO!

  17. Hi, I’m not sure where a good place to ask about this is, but i need help with something, at least some advice on where to go, some ideas, anything! My family has alot of health issues, including autism, autoimmune(lupus), allergies, sinus, gut, you name it, it’s weak or not working right. Plus, our neighbors cook meth, we get the airborne toxins from it, ops do nothing, and we are extremely sensitive to it. Any ideas at all what will counter, heal, cleanse, someone to contact, or whatever you can think of to help us, the garden, or our hens, I’d appreciate it big time! P.S. slowly working in ACV, seems pretty good so far!

      • I read the posts you suggested, and that explains why our indoor aloe vera plants started dying, they must’ve been doing a VERY good job filtering & gotten overloaded lol. I’m limited on resources right now, but can adapt the planting info (indoor cats), and the salt info reasonably well, thank you. I had no idea some plants ionized air! Whoo hoo!

        • Doing all this research, i found out Sarin gas (my father was a war veteran) is a narcotic, as is meth. We have already been able to detox partially from second hand sarin exposure using a form of guaifinesin, mainly intending to treat fibromialgia. Confusing, i know, but if anyone else asks you about drug related detox or airborne drug stuff like this, guai is a good additional suggestion. There is more info available, the guy who started it is called guai doc, it’s in between a med & a supplement. It basically flushes excess calcium and other things out of the body, which combined with keeping stuff from getting in the body might just do it! Hope this made sense lol, I’m a little hyperactive. Again, thank you for the info you had, i am already finding a couple of things that i can adapt a bit.

    • Your neighbors cook meth?!?! I have a suggestion for you-call the cops!

    • Hello, I read you post about multiple allergies and family problems. I think you should research Salicylate Intolerance.
      as this is a sneaky pervasive allergy/ intolerance which is hard to pin down, and causes many of the problems you mention and is going to be more widely recognised in years to come as a major contributing factor in the rise of childhood asthma, allergies, and behavioural problems. Salicylates occur naturally in fruit and veg but are higher in some than others. It is also hidden in many of the chemical additives in our foods and is now ingested at a much higher concentration in processed foods over the last 50 years. – the same time span as the rise in allergies etc….

  18. Should you mix/shake the ACV to get the benefits or let it rest at the bottom?

  19. I would like to know if this can be used if you already have low blood sugar and low blood pressure?

  20. I have been adding one T. of ACV with the mother to one can of diet ginger ale (to help taste) and 1/4 tsp. of ginger and drink it daily. In your opinion, does the fizz outdo the benefits of the ACV ? I am trying to keep UTI s in check. Thanks!

  21. I buy new raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the mother…shall i drink direct without any mixture?

  22. Can it be heintz apple cider vinegar or does it have to be Bragg’s to help u lose weight… I bought the heintz with mother. Does it matter

    • As long as it has the mother and hasn’t been pasteurized, it should work.

  23. I drink a table spoon of ACV with the “mother” every night before bed n mid day! I don’t mix anything with it! It really helps the digestive system n heartburn! The taste is horrible but u get used to it! U can also use a drop of pure natural honey with the table spoon of ACV to help taste! Also twice a week I take a shot glass n fill it with the ACV n sprinkle two dashes of cayeene pepper n shoot it! It’s works great on curbing the appetite n helps to burn fat!

  24. so if i make my own will it contain “the mother”

  25. What I want to know is now that the Mother is sitting in the last few ounces of ACV, what do I do with her (lol)? I don’t want to toss such a lovely creature. Does one make ACV successfully at home? Or do something else with it?? Thanks!!

    • Oops. Never mind. I JUST found your article on this very subject. Move along. Nothing to see here…..

  26. Hi, I have Sjogrens Syndrome would I benefit from taking ACV for that auto immune disorder? If so how much and how often?