Best Apple Cider Vinegar: O Mother, Where Art Thou?

Last Updated: Sep 8, 2020 @ 1:43 pm.  What’s the best apple cider vinegar? We did a blind taste test with several top brands . . . which was the best overall? Smooth tasting? Budget-friendly? Here are the winners.

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Best Overall

Bragg Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother, 16 ounce, 2 Pack

Organic, no GMO’s, gluten free
Excellent taste—this apple cider vinegar is simply better tasting (and milder) than other brands we tried. “Mother” most consistent from bottle to bottle. Caveat: it’s pricey.

Best Overall: Bragg Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

Let’s talk apple cider vinegar.

In a nutshell, it is very simple: apples and water. Yeast is added to ferment the apples. The sugar in the apple juice is turned into alcohol . . .  just like any vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is then diluted to about 5% acidity.

A big part of apple cider vinegar is what’s called “the mother.” This is a mix of the yeast and good bacteria (from fermentation) that floats around in the bottle. The mother is a probiotic (in fact, all probiotics are a combination of yeast and live bacteria).

When we tested apple cider vinegar, we noticed the amount of mother varied from brand to brand. We know this is one of the reasons why folks buy apple cider vinegar—so we’ll discuss that below.

We did a blind taste test with several popular apple cider vinegar brands. We mixed it into salad dressings. And made cinnamon tea. We also mixed it with seltzer and ginger to make a spritzer.

So which was best overall? The crown went to Bragg’s.

Braggs is to apple cider vinegar what Tesla is to electric vehicles—the brand is virtually synonymous with apple cider vinegar. And after trying it up against other brands (again, it was a blind taste test), we see why.

Here’s why it came out on top:

What We Liked

• Taste is excellent. Braggs simply tasted better than the majority of apple cider vinegars. (We think Dynamic Health, see below, slightly edged out Braggs on taste . . . but it has less mother, which might explain that.)

• USDA Organic.

• Gluten free.

• No GMO’s.

• Bottles consistently contain “the mother,” which is the probiotic. In our research, we noted some brands inconsistently contain varying amounts of mother.

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

• Plastic bottle. We don’t think this affected the taste, but we know some folks prefer glass.

Best Budget Friendly

Fairchild’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother, 32 oz.

Processed in Idaho
Strong, full bodied apple cider vinegar has more apple flavor profile than others we tested. No GMO’s, gluten free and vegan. Cavet: higher acidity level than others.

Best Budget Friendly: Fairchild’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

If you are a fan of apple cider vinegar, you quickly realize there is one major drawback: it is rather pricey!

Good news: we found a good-tasting apple cider vinegar that is easier on the wallet: Fairchild’s. Good quality, unfiltered and contains mother. Here’s more:

What We Liked

 More apple flavor than others we tasted.

• Includes mother.

• No GMO’s.

• USDA Organic.

• Apples are processed in Idaho.

• Affordable.

• Gluten free.

What Needs Work

• Glass bottle is fragile. We didn’t have any issues with the bottle we tested, but we see feedback from our readers that it can break easily.

• More acidic than others. This apple cider vinegar has 6.3% acidity (most have 5%). That means receipes may need to be adjusted to dilute it more (so it’s less sour).

Best Tasting

Dynamic Health Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother | 16 Fl oz

Also easy on the wallet
We loved the taste of this organic apple cider vinegar best—crisp without too much sour bite. No GMO’s, gluten free and USDA organic. Slight citrus flavor notes.

Best Tasting: Dynamic Health Organic Cider Vinegar

When you do a blind taste test, sometimes the results are surprising. Or at least they surprised us.

Even though the Braggs brand dominates this category, we thought Dynamic Health’s organic cider vinegar edged it out in taste.

Now, that doesn’t mean we think Bragg’s doesn’t taste good—it was a close second.

Part of the difference we think is the bottle we tried had somewhat less mother than Bragg’s—and that probably affects the taste. On the other hand, we know folks WANT the mother, as that’s the probiotic part of apple cider vinegar. So there is  a trade-off.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• USDA organic.

• No GMO’s.

• Gluten free.

• Vegan.

• 5% acidity is average for category.

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• O mother, where art thou? Yes, the bottle we tested had mother (but there seemed somewhat less compared to Bragg’s). However, we see reports that some folks got bottles with little or no mother. It would be great if this was more consistent. That said, it’s hard to measure exact amounts of mother, as it is mixed into the apple cider vinegar.

• Plastic bottle. This doesn’t affect the taste, but we know some folks prefer glass.

Best Large Quantity

Lucy’s Family Owned – USDA Organic NonGMO Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, Unfiltered, Unpasteurized, With the Mother, (Gallon)

Made from Washington state apples
Since apple cider vinegar has such a long shelf life, we liked this gallon-size bottle—good (somewhat sweeter) taste and easy on the wallet. Gluten-free, no GMO’s.

Best Large Quantity: Lucy’s Family Owned USDA Organic Non GMO Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

If you are an apple cider vinegar enthusiast, you quickly realize one drawback to it: those small, pricey bottles.

Most apple cider vinegar is sold in bottles that are 16 ounces. And sometimes less.

If you want a larger quantity (and to go easier on your wallet), we found a gallon size apple cider vinegar we’d recommend: Lucy’s Family.

Yes, this is basically the same as the apple cider vinegar you see in smaller bottles: unfiltered, organic—and includes mother. And it is 5% acidity, which is typical for this type of vinegar.

Another major plus: apple cider vinegar has a very long shelf life. So if you buy a gallon like this, you don’t have to worry about using it all up in a short time frame. (Most brands have a two or three year expiration; other brands say it can last indefinitely as long as it is stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.)

What We Liked

• Taste is a bit sweeter and less acidic than others we tried—although it has 5% acidity, which is typical for apple cider vinegar.

• Organic

• No GMO’s.

• Includes mother.

• Made from apples grown in Washington.

• BPA free container. 

• Easy on the wallet. 

• Family owned business.

• Long shelf life.

What Needs Work

• Taste varies by the batch. We see reports from some of our readers that this apple cider vinegar brand’s taste can vary from bottle to bottle. And some bottles have less mother than others.

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