This pantry staple can do a lot more than just dress your salad, and it’s got the buzz to prove it. Find out why apple cider vinegar is one of your kitchen’s most versatile ingredients. 

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apple cider vinegar
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Apple cider vinegar is getting a lot of attention these days, but it’s hardly a fad. ACV (as the cool kids call it) has been used in kitchens and households for generations. And it’s no wonder! With its tart-sweet flavor, numerous healing properties, and all-natural cleaning power, ACV is a legit miracle product. As a busy chef and mom, it’s my go-to product for keeping my family fed and healthy and my home sparkling.

So much more than a salad stand-by, apple cider vinegar is also an:

All-natural sports drink

A great source of electrolytes, apple cider vinegar (combined with water) has the same energizing effect as those neon-colored, sugary sports drinks. Plus it has been found to prevent muscle fatigue after exercise, increase stamina, and relieve joint pain.

Oatmeal cookie-lifter

The same combination of ingredients that made foaming science-class volcanoes so fun to watch can take an oatmeal cookie out of hockey puck territory and into tender treat terrain. When ACV is added to cookie dough, particularly one as dense and heavy as oatmeal cookies, it reacts with baking soda, producing those same carbon dioxide bubbles, which add rise and air to the dough.

Wooden cutting board cleaner

Cutting boards, especially porous wooden boards, are a notorious hideout for harmful bacteria. Thankfully, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is an excellent disinfectant— effective against E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus—but gentle enough to keep from damaging the wood.

Breath freshener

Thanks to its antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar can kill the germs that cause bad breath. For a quick fix, gargle ½ teaspoon ACV stirred into 8 ounces of water.

Organic weed killer

At 5 percent acidity, undiluted apple cider vinegar zaps weeds naturally—it’s reasonably safe for the environment and surprisingly effective.

Sunburn soother

While it may seem counterintuitive and sound super painful, dabbing apple cider vinegar on a sunburn actually takes the sting away! It can also help prevent blistering and peeling.

Bean de-gasser

Beans, though super nutritious, have a high concentration of indigestible sugars and phytic acid that can wreak havoc on the digestive system. ACV helps break down these stubborn starches. When cooking beans, add ¼ cup of ACV to the liquid during the last half hour to help eliminate the gassy aftermath.

Have you discovered any creative uses for apple cider vinegar or any other kitchen staple?

The Apple Cider Vinegar Companion
Credit: Courtesy of Suzy Scherr

Suzy Scherr is chef, cooking teacher, writer, and mom. She is the author of The Apple Cider Vinegar Companion.  Follow her on Twitter (@sisackscherr), where she shares tips and tricks for making healthy family meals exciting, fun, and accessible.