If the “wellness” wing of the internet is to be believed, apple cider vinegar is so powerful and miraculous that it can [deep breath]: help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, control blood sugar, clear up acne, soothe sunburn, alleviate itchy bug bites, cure hiccups, eliminate body odor, get rid of dandruff, control frizzy hair, clean and disinfect household surfaces, and stop cancer cells from growing. Though I’m sure that some of these purported benefits are true, whenever a product found in health food stores claims it can cure more than three unrelated diseases, I call shenanigans. Maybe one day science will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can cure cancer and clean a toilet with the same product, but until then, I shall keep my bullshit meter calibrated.
This is not to say I don’t love apple cider vinegar, because I do! It’s my go-to in the kitchen any time I need a kick of acidity without an intensely discernible flavor. As an ingredient, apple cider vinegar (or ACV to its friends) plays very well with others and is happy to hide in the background when necessary; when it’s used with a heavy hand, like in vinaigrette, you’ll be able to pick out gently fruity notes behind all its acidity. And if you drink it on its own, like wellness gurus have suggested, it is pure, unadulterated burning that will make you feel like you are dissolving from the inside out.
I know this pain because many years ago, I allowed myself to be hoodwinked by the ACV cult in a moment of desperation. (My doctor had told me to stop eating cheese to get my cholesterol in check and hahahahaha no.) I started taking two tablespoons of straight vinegar every morning with a tap water chaser and couldn’t stand it. I tried diluting the vinegar in both tap water and tea, but all that did was extend the unpleasantness. I completely ignored the stuff until a few weeks ago, on the day that I got my second shot of the COVID vaccine.
Some weeks ago I received a box from Bragg’s—the biggest name in ACV—containing three bottles of “Blended Apple Cider Vinegar,” meant to be consumed as some sort of magical heath tonic. I stashed the bottles with the rest of the vinegar in my kitchen and promptly forgot about it. Then came vaccine day, and while discussing potential side effects with my coworkers, I joked that I wasn’t worried because I had a cabinet full of apple cider vinegar to protect me. And, since I always back up all my work jokes with firm, concrete action, I decided to add a splash of Citrus Ginger vinegar to my standard beverage: a can of whichever flavored seltzer is currently on sale. I am not here to sell you on any health benefits or medical miracles apple cider vinegar may or may be associated with—I am here to tell you that the combination of seltzer and a splash of ACV is so freakin’ good that outside of coffee and the occasional fancy beverage, it’s the only thing I’ve been drinking.
I’ve had plenty of vinegar-based drinks before (there’s nothing like a tall glass of switchel on a hot summer’s day), and I enjoy adding a fat lemon wedge to ice water, yet it had never occurred to me to add vinegar to a can of flavored seltzer, and I’m kicking myself for not figuring this out earlier. The bubbles seem to amplify the vinegar’s fruity notes, the acid adds spunk, and the seltzer’s flavoring adds character. I have used citrus-flavored seltzers, berry-flavored seltzers, other various fruity seltzers, and every single one has worked marvelously.
I can’t say for certain that I’m feeling any better than I have in recent months, or at least, not as a direct result of this newfound beverage. What I do know is that it’s motivating me to drink a lot more water every day, and isn’t hydration another one of those things that will help me live forever? At the rate I’m knocking these things back, it’s only a matter of time before I’m indestructible.