Apple Cider Vinegar vs. Kombucha: What’s What?
by Patric Watzman
Clarity in the confusion of your grocery cooler
Apple cider vinegar drinks are also taking shelves by storm, but with a bit of confusion from the people staring at those very shelves. We’re sending in the ‘booch research team to clear up some things.
Along with all the booch popping up left and right, there’s another new player in the game quickly following its tracks, and claiming some of the health tonic glory as well – apple cider vinegar (ACV).
Once a staple in mom’s kitchen, but not terribly thought about too deeply, grocery store shelves are now being filled up, bit by bit, of not only the real stuff in jars, but all kinds of beverages made out of, and including it, often sitting right next to the ‘booch. This can sometimes lead to confusion, at best, or walking home with the wrong bottle, at worst. We won’t knock some apple cider anything, and you’ll find it in our hands from time to time too, but we thought we’d clear some things up.
Apple Cider Vinegar is one of the few things in this world that says exactly what it is, and how it came to be, by the name alone. By fermentation, apple juice is turned into vinegar by yeast and bacteria, turning the sugars, and then alcohol, into acetic acid.
There’s a lot of that process that sounds very similar, and there’s a lot of very similar vocabulary – “mother culture”, fermentation, colonies of bacteria – which also means there are indeed some similarities in between the two. ACV is also antioxidant rich, as well as containing beneficial bacteria. It’s also rumored to aid in digestion as well.
However, that’s where the similarities end. Kombucha has similar qualities to vinegar, but is in no way actual vinegar, although you can leave your base to ferment for longer, and turn it into actual vinegar if you choose. The fermentation of the sugared tea starter causes some of the vinegar similarities, but kombucha is fermented by a SCOBY while apple cider is fermented by an MOV (Mother of Vinegar), both containing different types of bacteria. Kombucha is the only one of the two that contains a yeast culture.
The acidity of both come from different factors as well. While having similar tasting tanginess, vinegar is very high in acetic acid and kombucha only contains a little of this. Kombucha is full of gluconic acid, along with the acetic acid, and this is in part believed to contribute to some of kombucha’s purported detoxifying effects.
Along with kombucha, ACV is still being researched and we can’t say some things for 100% sure, but it does appear that apple cider vinegar does have at least some probiotic benefit. There’s also extremely promising research on ACV’s effects on blood sugar, lessening blood sugar spikes after meals, having potential benefit for diabetics, and some benefits in digestion.
However, drinking vinegar straight is never recommended, and if you do choose to include this in your diet, speak with your doctor, and make sure what you’re drinking is significantly diluted as to not harm your esophagus.