Apple cider vinegar is one of those foods that rises and falls in popularity, always accompanied by a variety of health claims that seem too good to be true.
While I don’t think apple cider vinegar is a magical elixir of life, it is delicious and makes a great addition to any kitchen pantry.
One of the things you might read about apple cider vinegar is that you should never, ever heat it since it will lose all of its many health benefits.
Since those health benefits are often overstated, it’s worth looking into whether or not there is any reason to boil or not boil your apple cider vinegar.
So, are there benefits to boiling apple cider vinegar? While boiling it won’t make it any healthier or taste much different, it also doesn’t have any real negative effects. The only thing boiling apple cider vinegar does is reduce the number of probiotic bacteria present.
Read on to discover more about what apple cider vinegar is, how it’s made, whether it’s ok to boil it, if there are any benefits to boiling apple cider vinegar, what you can add warm or hot apple cider vinegar to, and more!
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Before we get into the details about whether there are any benefits to boiling apple cider vinegar, I think it’s important to understand what it is.
How it’s created directly impacts the content of the vinegar and can play a role in whether or not you decide to boil it!
Apple cider vinegar is a fermented food that is made in a two-step process. First, apples are crushed and juiced.
Then yeast is added to turn the natural sugars in the apples into alcohol. Once that process is completed, bacteria are added, which further ferment the apple cider.
The alcohol and remaining sugars are converted into something called acetic acid (you find this in all kinds of vinegar such as balsamic, white vinegar, wine vinegars, rice vinegars, and so on).
Acetic acid is what gives apple cider vinegar that strong, pungent, sour taste and smell.
Another byproduct of the fermentation process is the creation of beneficial bacteria called probiotics.
Probiotics are strains of friendly bacteria that can live in our digestive tracts or on our skin, in our eyes, and elsewhere. They play many roles in the body, including aiding in digestion.
You can find probiotics in many types of fermented foods such as:
- Apple Cider Vinegar (and all other kinds of vinegar)
- Soy Sauce/Tamari
These foods were often created before refrigeration was invented because fermented foods were one of the few safe ways to preserve summer harvests for long winters.
The resulting foods were not only incredibly delicious, but also rich in probiotics, beneficial acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Fermented foods are part of many traditional food cultures from many places around the world.
That’s because they’re a great way to preserve harvests and to help inoculate the digestive tract with the types of beneficial bacteria that promote healthy digestion and balanced immunity.
Incorporating a small spoonful of probiotic foods into your meals can also help with immediate digestion.
They’re also great for people with digestive issues because they’ve already been partially digested by helpful bacteria, so they’re much easier for your body to break down and absorb.
Apple cider vinegar is a delicious fermented food that can be used in many ways in the kitchen. I love adding it to salad dressings, splashing some in my soup, some warm winter drinks, and more.
Now that we know what apple cider vinegar is, let’s look at whether there are any benefits to boiling it!
Is It Okay Boil Apple Cider Vinegar?
Since most apple cider brands are sold as raw and unpasteurized, you might be wondering whether it is ok to boil it or not.
In terms of impacting flavor or the acidic components of the vinegar, boiling isn’t really going to have much of an impact on the overall taste or function.
The only thing that will happen when you boil raw apple cider vinegar for about 10 minutes or more is that the bacteria it contains will likely be killed off.
Since the bacteria in apple cider vinegar can have some probiotic benefits, that might be something to consider before boiling.
When it comes to apple cider vinegar, since it’s a probiotic-rich food, it could be a simple way to add some beneficial bacteria to your life.
But if you’re not concerned about the probiotic content, then it really isn’t any different from heating or boiling any other vinegar.
Aside from reducing the amount of bacteria found in apple cider vinegar, boiling or heating it isn’t going to cause any issues, so you can feel confident using it in all your hot or cold recipes.
Are There Benefits To Boiling Apple Cider Vinegar?
While it is definitely safe to boil apple cider vinegar, it doesn’t really have any specific benefits.
The flavor may be slightly more mellow once it’s heated, but not in any really noticeable way. It will still be sour and tangy and have that slightly sweet apple flavor.
The only thing that really changes when you boil apple cider vinegar is that you decrease the amount of probiotic bacteria it contains.
If you’re not concerned about using apple cider vinegar as a fermented food source of probiotics in your diet, then you can go ahead and boil away!
It also takes about 10 minutes of boiling for the bacteria to be killed off, so unless you’re boiling and simmering it for a long period of time, it’s likely you’ll still get a few of those helpful little bacteria even if you boil it.
Are There Different Health Benefits In Hot Vs Cold Apple Cider Vinegar?
When it comes to the health claims about apple cider vinegar, there are certainly a lot of people who claim it is a magical elixir that is going to cure all that ails you if you take it every day.
I don’t like to buy into the hype around so-called superfoods because health is complex and depends on more than just a couple of foods that you include in your diet.
With that being said, there are a couple of scientifically-backed benefits to apple cider vinegar that are worth exploring.
Cold/Raw Apple Cider Vinegar Is Rich In Probiotics
As we’ve already learned, apple cider vinegar is rich in probiotics. These friendly bacteria can be a nice addition to a balanced diet because they can support healthy digestive function.
One of the great things about probiotics is that they can take compounds we can’t digest, like fiber, and break them down.
The byproducts of their digestion are things like vitamins and beneficial fatty acids that can be great for our gut health.
While there are too many types of probiotic strains to outline in one post, they are being studied for their impacts on digestion, immune function, mental health, and more.
Raw apple cider vinegar that hasn’t been heated or pasteurized is a great source of these probiotic bacteria.
Unfortunately, excessively heating the vinegar will kill off the bacteria so you won’t get those same health benefits.
What Can You Add Hot Apple Cider Vinegar To?
When it comes to what you can add hot apple cider vinegar to, it’s really limited only by your imagination. Anywhere you would use another vinegar, you can safely use apple cider vinegar for a subtle change in flavor.
A few ways I like to use apple cider vinegar in the kitchen include:
Adding It To Soups
I like adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to my soups a few minutes before serving. I find adding the acidity helps brighten up the soup and make it taste more fresh and flavorful.
Adding It To Hot Drinks
There are some recipes for apple cider vinegar elixirs. These drinks often combine apple cider with boiling water, lemon, cinnamon, honey, ginger, or other flavors to make a cozy, comforting drink.
You can also add a little splash to your tea with some honey.
You could also add a little splash to apple juice or apple cider to add an extra tangy flavor. You can add it to hot or cold juices/ciders.
Making A Salad Dressing
While you don’t really need to heat your apple cider vinegar to make a dressing, sometimes a warm salad dressing is really delicious. Or you can make a warm dressing to serve with roasted veggies, meat, or fish!
Adding It To Marinades
Again, you don’t need to heat the apple cider vinegar to add it to a marinade, but you can use it as the acidic component to help tenderize your meat.
Since it’s safe to heat up, you can throw your meat, fish, etc. right onto the grill or into the oven or frying pan.
Adding It To Warm Sauces
It’s a great way to cut the richness of fatty sauces and add a little tanginess.
If you’re interested in making your own apple cider vinegar, check out this helpful video on the subject!