Susan Jane Murray: Mother of all Vinegars
Great for dressing up salads or wrapping up coughs, this cheap, tarty little elixir delivers a deluge of crucial trace minerals, says Susan Jane Murray, but make sure it's organic
Cider vinegar is very friendly. It loves all sorts of food and does great things to your body. Bone-building calcium, heart-healthy magnesium and potassium, and energy-enhancing iron are all stuffed into a paltry teaspoon of this unassuming vinegar. Try one tablespoon with a large glass of water every mealtime as a steadfast way to keep your body happy.
Not only does cider vinegar deliver a deluge of crucial trace minerals, it also rapidly alkalises the system. Why is this exciting? We now know that acidic systems facilitate the mutation of bugs and viruses. Acidity also leaches calcium from the bones, contributing to lower bone density and osteo-related complications. Those concerned with bone health should therefore make friends with this tarty little elixir. It's cheap, virtuous, and can expel hangovers quicker than you can mumble "where's my paracetemol?"
In recognition of cider vinegar's stimulating effect on the digestive system, it's often used as a weight-loss aid and a cravings controller. Cider vinegar is produced from crushed and aged apples. The unfiltered product is a kind of brownish-yellow color, and the unfiltered cider contains the 'mother' of vinegar. The live enzymes in the 'mother' turbo-charge the metabolism. However, this 'mother' can only be found in organic, unpasteurised varieties. The commercial process of pasteurisation destroys these beneficial enzymes and living bacteria. Check the bottles for a ghostly cobweb loitering at the bottom. If it's there, that's a good sign. If not, keep looking.
Cider vinegar is good in dressings. It's also excellent, when combined with seaweed, for curing coughs.
Parsley Cider Dressing
You will need:
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of your favourite olive oil
1 teaspoon raw honey
Handful parsley, finely chopped
Place all the ingredients in a small jam jar, and shake them vigorously together like a cocktail. Pour over a boring-looking bowl of leaves. Gently tumble together with clean hands.
Cold and Cough Remedy
We Irish are often seen wearing flip-flops and snotty noses this time of year. While I can't remedy the former, the latter can be resolved with this Harry Potter potion. Sellotape the instructions to your kitchen cupboard. You'll be glad you did when you feel a pesky tickle in your throat. This recipe has been passed down through family and friends for 20-odd years. It's anti-viral, anti-bacterial and swinging with crucial trace minerals.
Carrageen is a type of seaweed available in select supermarkets and in all good health-food stores. Did you know that seaweed is our very own national superfood? Forget visions of slimy tidal pools. They're more like the linguini of the sea. Marine-y linguini. Prannie Rhatigan, a GP and culinary genius from Donegal, uses seaweed daily for its star-studded medicinal value. Her book Irish Seaweed Kitchen details how recessionistas can harvest it for free, tap into its nutritional storehouse and disguise it in children's meals. A doctor in the kitchen sounds like an outrageously sensible idea. Brava!
You will need:
Roughly 20g carrageen moss
1 tablespoon manuka honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Soak the carrageen moss in water for 30 minutes to rehydrate it. Remove, discard the liquid, and rinse the carrageen moss under the cold tap. Boil it in a large saucepan with the cloves and about 700ml of fresh water. After 25 minutes, strain the brew and allow to cool to lip temperature before stirring in the manuka honey and the cider vinegar. When it turns cold, the brew will set like a jelly. Should this happen, gently reheat it to make it liquidy once again. If your cough is particularly chesty, make several batches and sip away all day with the aid of a couple of Woody Allens.