You’ve probably heard about apple cider vinegar (ACV) in the wellness space, or possibly referenced in a recipe at home. Maybe you even have a bottle in your pantry! If you’ve already got some, you’re about to get a download of ideas on how to make the most of this delicious, tangy vinegar in your cooking and as a go-to remedy. Don’t worry—if you’re not on the ACV train yet, there’s plenty of room for you.

What is it?

Essentially, apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made from apple juice. Logical, right? The juice is extracted by crushing the apples, followed by a fermentation process similar to that of wine which creates its trademark bold flavor.

Watch out for two different types of ACV on store shelves. The first has been filtered, which removed the beneficial bacteria that make ACV such a powerhouse pantry staple. The second is the unfiltered kind, often labeled ‘with the mother’, meaning that the friendly bacteria, proteins, and enzymes created by the fermentation process are still present. This second type is the one you’ll want to stock up on—you’ll find it from brands like Bragg’s, Thrive Market, and even Heinz. The bacteria and enzymes in unfiltered ACV give it a murky appearance and are likely responsible for its myriad of benefits. Always shake before using to distribute the goodies throughout the bottle! #shakewhatyourmamagaveyou

How do you use it?

First, let’s allow ACV a moment to brag about its wide variety of applications, several of which are supported by scientific studies:

  • Skin issues—wound healing, nail fungus, head lice, acne, sunburn
  • Blood sugar balancing—improves insulin sensitivity, lowers fasting blood sugar
  • Weight loss—increases satiety, lowers cholesterol + triglycerides, low calorie flavor boost
  • Digestive aid—decreases gas and bloating, prepares body for a meal
  • Cold + flu remedy—fire cider, diluted ACV water
  • Recipes—salad dressings, slow cooker meals, pickled veggies

Sounds too good to be true, you say? Well, there’s no better way to become a believer than to give it a try. Check out my 3 favorite uses of ACV:

1. Digestive aid: about 20 minutes before a meal, drink an 8-ounce glass of water mixed with 2 teaspoons (or up to a tablespoon if you can handle the strong taste) of ACV. Pro tip: warming the water before adding the ACV will make it go down a bit smoother.

This drink will prepare your body for a meal by introducing more acid to the stomach, as well as a dose of digestive enzymes and friendly gut bugs. (Side note: almost everyone is low in stomach acid in our modern world, even those prone to acid reflux symptoms. In fact, the reflex can be caused by low stomach acid. Mind blown!) It can also reduce insulin spikes that often come from eating a high carb meal. This is by far my favorite use of apple cider vinegar and a go-to when my stomach is feeling a bit uneasy or if I have an adventurous or large meal in store.

2. Cold + flu remedy: When I come down with the sniffles or a sore throat, my bottle of ACV is the first line of defense. You can use a version of the digestive aid I described above plus a tablespoon of raw honey, or for the bold at heart, try FIRE CIDER. What a name, eh? The name won’t surprise you once you’ve had a taste, because this drink is for real. Like really for real. You’ve been warned.

Basically, it’s ACV infused with some ass-kicker ingredients like horseradish, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers. After about a month-long infusion process, the mixture is strained and taken like a shot to save the day when you’re feeling lousy. If you’re the experimental type, you can make your own at home or simply purchase from Amazon or The Vitamin Shoppe.

3. Apple cider vinaigrette: If you’re not a big salad lover, this vinaigrette can really change the game. I find the tanginess of this dressing to be rather addictive, which is a bonus because the ACV will also help you digest a fibrous meal!

Simply combine one minced clove of garlic, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey (depending on the sweetness level you’re after), 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, and 1/4 cup of ACV. Shake it up and add salt and pepper to taste—easy!

Use it wisely  

One final, but important, note: ACV is an acid, so it’s always best to dilute it when applying to the skin or drinking it. Drinking ACV in excess can cause damage to the esophagus, so don’t exceed 2-3 tablespoons in one day (and don’t have that much all in one sitting.) Also, remember to seek medical attention if your best home remedy efforts are not proving to be effective. Sometimes, the intervention of a doctor is necessary to keep an illness from getting worse.

I’d love to know what other apple cider vinegar recipes/uses you’ve discovered. Leave a comment below with your ideas or feedback on the ones I’ve mentioned here!