Ten things I know about cider vinegar (you’ll be glad to know them, too):
1.Cider vinegar is made from the fermented juice of apples, diluted with water to a uniform strength of 5% acidity.
2.American farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries drank apple cider vinegar as a kind of Gatorade, for an energy boost. They would dilute it with fruit juice, and the “cocktail” was known as a switchel.
3.Although cider vinegar is quite inexpensive now, because of its versatility it was highly valued as a unit of currency in the 19th century, when it sold for three times the price of apple cider.
4. Artisanal vinegar is darker in color, but not always better in flavor, than supermarket cider vinegar. It is, however, always more expensive than the vinegar I buy in my local market.
5.The vinegar is fermented in a long process that generates a “mother”, a bacterial ooze that forms on the top of vinegar as it ferments. Commerial processing filters out the mother.
6.Some people love the ooze and believe the bacteria found in it aid in the treatment of a variety of ailments from A to Z. Can it cure acid reflux or athlete’s foot or zits? Maybe. Buy vinegar with its mother in health food stores.
7. Or, you can make cider vinegar at home, but don’t use it for canning; the acidity of homemade vinegars varies, and you need a reliably high acidity for safe food preservation. Use your homemade cider vinegar in salad dressings and to brighten up fruit-based sauces.
8.Cider vinegar adds a mildly tangy fruitiness to chili and apple cider vinegar pork, cider roasted vegetables, bacon jam, vegan blueberry muffins, easy pickled carrots, and Moroccan-style chicken and lentils.
9.Substitute rice vinegar (regular or seasoned) or brown rice vinegar for cider vinegar.
10.Unopened, cider vinegar will last on your pantry shelf forever. Opened bottles of vinegar will keep for six months or more.