Cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from cider, typically cider made with apples. Cider is a liquid made by pressing fresh fruit. If allowed to ferment, cider will become alcoholic, and if it is oxidized and fermented properly, the alcoholic cider will become vinegar. Cider vinegar has been made for centuries in numerous nations, along with other vinegar products. It is a rich golden to brown color, and should be stored in a cool dark place such as a cabinet until ready for use.
The word “vinegar” comes from a French term, vin aigre, meaning “soured wine.” Many early vinegars were made from batches of wine, especially those which had gone awry, and wine vinegar is still a popular condiment throughout the Mediterranean. Cider vinegar was probably also an early discovery, given the ease with which cider can turn alcoholic and then convert to vinegar in imperfect storage conditions. As a condiment, vinegar remains eternally popular in many countries.
Many health claims are associated with cider vinegar in particular, probably because it is fermented in a long process which generates mother of vinegar, a bacterial slime which forms on the top of vinegar as it ferments. Mother of vinegar is harmless and bland in flavor, and some people believe that the acetic acid bacteria which make it are beneficial. For this reason, cider vinegars are often sold unfiltered, allowing consumers to choose whether or not they want to consume the mother of vinegar.
As a cooking ingredient, cider vinegar pops up in many dishes. It has a mellow and slightly acidic flavor which complements some foods. In addition, it has historically been used as a disinfectant, along with many other vinegars. This is a valid medical use for cider vinegar, especially if better disinfectants are not available. It has also been shown to be useful for reducing inflammation, when applied in the form of a compress to the inflamed area. For some injuries, it may be more effective than ice and other traditional anti-inflammatories.
Other health claims for cider vinegar are more dubious. Many dieters use it, claiming that it induces a feeling of fullness and that it promotes health. In addition, some people use it in skin care, because of its astringent properties. However, it can damage sensitive skin and is extremely painful if it gets into the eyes, and this use is not advised.