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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.
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 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.
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.
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?
Discussion (83 Comments)
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
scientist are realizing the importance of good bacteria in digesting vitamins and minerals I drink kombucha tea and kefir for that reason I already put ACV on sliced cucumber and salads and will make sure it has the mother from now on
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.
Try Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bragg-Certified-Organic-Apple-Vinegar/dp/B07B8QZX56/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=b3d9e1594a5560aa2d1b03a52892ecb4&language=en_US
Thanks! That helps a lot. Already ordered!
I am using ACV as a drink twice a day and it has improved my digestion.
With or without the mother?
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?”
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
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.
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.
What can we do with with the mother once the vinegar is used up? (Forgive me if someone’s already asked this!). I’ve got one just sitting waiting to be made useful…I hope. Thanks!
You are supposed to shake “the mother” in it, as it always settles to the bottom before taking it.
Yes, Marla, that helps it distribute evenly. But don’t feel bad if you forget. Just taking ACV with the mother is soooo good for you! 🙂
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!
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
The Mother in the ACV mentioned in this blog is dead wild yeast (not active) and can’t ferment additional cider. Because no real benefit has been medically or scientifically substantiated shouldn’t it be classified as a by product or waste the same as coffee grounds? Both coffee grounds and dead yeast cells have a purpose in amending soil but are free if you look in the right place so why pay for it. Seems like just another way to take the trash out at the customer’s expense. If you want an active Mother just buy a bottle of fresh pressed apple cider, put it in a large mouth Mason jar w/ a piece of cheese cloth over the opening to stop dust and the Mother will come.
Great site very informative Thanks for this site;)
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?
Good catch. All fixed 🙂
Hmmm…been seeing this for awhile but never really thought about its real potentials