How to Choose the Best Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar enjoys wide popularity thanks to its great versatility. Used as an ingredient in cooking, a beauty toner, ‘pick me up’ tonic and everything in between, it has a lot going for it.

You can read more about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar here.

Whether you use apple cider vinegar in your recipes or for health reasons, it is important to know that not all apple cider vinegar is created equal. With a wide range of brands, making various claims, it can get confusing when buying.

There are certain things you should know to make sure you are buying a high quality vinegar for the job you need.

Here we will cover what to look for and how to choose the best apple cider vinegar.

But first, in order to know how good a particular product is, it is important to understand how apple cider vinegar is made.  This plays a big part in the final quality.

How Apple Cider Vinegar is Made

Apple cider vinegar is a fermented product, like kombucha. The brew starts starts by adding water to apples that have been crushed to extract the juice.  Yeast is put into the mix to begin the first stage of fermentation where sugar from the apples converts to alcohol.

Next, a secondary fermentation converts the alcohol to vinegar forming acetic and malic acids. These give apple cider vinegar its distinct flavor.

While fermenting, a very important by-product called the ‘Mother’ develops. This floating clump is where all the beneficial bacteria, enzymes and minerals live, so it’s an important part of ACV.

What To Look For When Buying Apple Cider Vinegar

The ‘Mother’

Apple Cider Vinegar Mother

This is the biggest indicator of apple cider vinegar quality, but it is also what makes apple cider vinegar murky.  Sometimes it looks like slime floating around, but don’t let that put you off.

A clear sign that the ‘Mother’ is present is the color and cloudiness of the ACV. When you shake the bottle, if it goes cloudy this shows the ‘Mother’ is alive and well.  No ‘Mother’ means all the good stuff has gone.

To remove the ‘Mother’, vinegar must be filtered.  Filtration gives a clear, clean looking vinegar which is fine for culinary uses, but not so great if you are looking for other benefits.

When buying, if you want the ‘Mother’ included, look for unfiltered products.


Pasteurization is a heating process used in food manufacturing to kill bacteria. Its aim is to extend shelf life and preserve the product for longer.  The trouble with pasteurization is it doesn’t discriminate killing bad AND good bacteria.

When it comes to apple cider vinegar, pasteurization will kill the ‘Mother’. Like filtration, the product will still be fine for cooking, but don’t rely on it for any health benefits.

Look for unpasteurized products if you want the nutrients of the ‘Mother’.


Starting with whole, organic apples means you are getting a vinegar free from pesticides and chemicals. Organic apple cider vinegar is also more likely to be unfiltered and unpasteurized. This guarantees a high quality product that is great for any use.

It has also been shown that organic ACV has more beneficial microbes (source).

If organic is an important consideration for you, look for organic certified products.


Difficult to quantify and very personal, every apple cider vinegar does have a slightly different taste.

While vinegar will always have a degree of tartness, some will be milder in flavor and leave less of an aftertaste.  Others will also seem a lot more acidic, even though all ACV’s have roughly the same acidity level (around 5%).

The best way to find your preferred taste is to try a few options.  Choose a small bottle to start with so you don’t find yourself stuck with a big bottle of ACV you can’t stand.

If you are mainly using it in cooking, taste will be less of a factor when buying.

But, if you want to enjoy the vinegar without the taste (and it is an acquired taste), here are some ways to use apple cider vinegar that won’t leave you gagging.


While this isn’t a make or break choice, it is preferable that the vinegar is in glass packaging.  Food grade plastic with no BPA is the next best choice.  Any other plastic is not ideal as there is a chance it can leach into the vinegar and compromise quality.

Glass packaging is often used for smaller quantities, while plastic is used in larger volumes to reduce weight and breakage during shipping.  Nearly all brands use both glass and plastic packaging.

The Best Apple Cider Vinegar Brands

As you go through the list below, it is clear we have chosen brands that are unfiltered, come with the ‘Mother’ and organic.  By ticking all these boxes, the apple cider vinegar brands listed can be used for any purpose you choose.

Packaging does vary according to the brand and size.

So that leaves taste.  And this, as discussed above is very personal.

Use the list below as a starting point to experiment with different brands and find the best ‘taste’ for you.

#1  Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

Bragg is a respected, long term brand of apple cider vinegar that has been the standard for all others.  Produced from organic, whole apples it is known all over the world for its quality and is packed full of goodness.

  • Unfiltered – with the ‘Mother’
  • Unpasteurized
  • Organic
  • Packaging varies

#2  Viva Naturals Apple Cider Vinegar

Naturally fermented using organic Californian apples, Viva Naturals is a quality product of high purity.

  • Unfiltered – with the ‘Mother’
  • Unpasteurized
  • Organic
  • Packaging varies

#3  Kevala Apple Cider Vinegar

Fermented from organic USA grown apples, Kevala offers a high quality product that ticks all the boxes.

  • Unfiltered – with the ‘Mother’
  • Unpasteurized
  • Organic
  • Packaging varies

#4  Dynamic Health Apple Cider Vinegar

A good value choice, Dynamic Health offers a product made from organic apples that is adequate for any need.

  • Unfiltered – with the ‘Mother’
  • Unpasteurized
  • Organic
  • Plastic packaging

Other ACV Brands To Try

Complete Natural Products ACV – improved taste for cooking and drinks.

Trader Joes Apple Cider Vinegar – a pasteurized, unfiltered option.

TNV Vitamins Apple Cider Vinegar – a lesser known brand that is organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Choosing an apple cider vinegar doesn’t need to be confusing.  Look for organic, unpasteurized brands with the ‘Mother’ and you will be buying the best quality.  From there, it is a matter of personal taste, so it is up to you to experiment.

Let us know your favorite apple cider vinegar brand and how you use it in the comments below.

The Best Apple Cider Vinegar

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