In the span of human food innovations, vinegar is as old as you can get. Historians date this preservative to about 3000 B.C. in ancient Egypt.
These days it is experiencing renewed popularity in the form of apple cider vinegar and pickle juice.
When comparing the potential uses of pickle juice vs apple cider vinegar, you need to consider the facts. Some uses have survived the test of both time and science. Others might be better off left to history.
Compared: Pickle Juice vs Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar is the common denominator between pickle juice and apple cider vinegar.
Pickle juice refers to the brine that preserves any food item by pickling it. Essentially, it is a combination of salt, water, and vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar results from the fermentation of apples, water, and sugar. First, the liquid turns into alcohol. It eventually then turns into acetic acid.
Fun fact: you can use apple cider vinegar to make pickle juice!
Nutrition at a Glance
Whether you buy these vinegary liquids or make them at home, you might want to consider the nutritional facts before chugging a quart of brine.
Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar describes itself as “the original wellness elixir.” A serving contains no calories, fat, sodium, sugar, or carbohydrates.
This elixir does, however, contain acetic acid. Bragg claims this ingredient helps manage blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight. (The company’s website does not provide evidence to support these claims.)
Pickle juice has a slightly different nutritional profile, particularly regarding sodium. To make a comparison, let’s look at the popular pickle juice company Pickle Juice.
An 8 oz bottle of Pickle Juice Sport contains 820 mg of sodium. That’s 38% of your daily value. In better news, Pickle Juice Sport also contains 70 mg of potassium and Vitamins C, E, and Zinc.
If you’re wondering how much pickle juice you should drink in a day, sodium probably needs to be your most significant consideration.
Health Benefits Compared
If pickle juice and apple cider vinegar have one thing in common, it’s that many people make many claims about their potential health benefits.
Home remedies often offer natural solutions to minor problems. But when it comes to health matters, you should speak to a doctor before believing everything you read on the internet. Unfortunately, much of the so-called evidence backing these claims is anecdotal rather than scientifically verified.
In some cases, drinking too much of either acidic liquid can harm your health.
Here are some commonly cited uses for pickle juice and apple cider vinegar. First, let’s look at how science does or doesn’t back up these uses.
Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties. Old wives and influencers alike have turned to ACV as a treatment for acne and other skin issues.
A recent study suggests that apple cider vinegar is not an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis. But beyond that, little scientific research exists to verify (or dispute) the usefulness of ACV to dermatology.
If you’re concerned about the chemical content of skincare products, you might be tempted to use ACV as an astringent (or facial toner).
Applying diluted apple cider vinegar or pickle juice won’t cause permanent damage. But either liquid might irritate the skin.
Before rinsing your face with a vinegar-based liquid, test a small area on your forearm first, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
Cramp Relief, Dehydration, & Athletic Performance
Many athletes are turning to pickle juice to power up their workouts. Anecdotal evidence claims drinking pickle juice relieves cramps in a mere 35 seconds.
A study from 2010 found that pickle juice can help inhibit “electrically induced muscle cramps” in dehydrated individuals.
That said, healthcare professionals caution against drinking too much pickle juice. Some scientists fear that pickle juice actually prolongs dehydration. They suggest drinking a sports drink instead.
What do exercise and hangovers have in common? The risk of dehydration.
But just as athletes should use caution against over-imbibing pickle juice, so should those who have imbibed too many other liquids.
Pickle juice will help replenish electrolytes. But it could also lead to further dehydration.
Traditionally, both pickle juice and apple cider vinegar contain probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that scientists believe help restore gut microbiota, digestion, and the immune system.
Note: pickle juice will only contain probiotics if fermentation has occurred. If you are unsure, check the nutritional label. Recipes for quick pickles, like the one below, will not create probiotics.
A study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that apple cider vinegar might help with weight loss. The study specifically looked at how ACV worked alongside a restricted-calorie diet.
The control group completed a 12-week restricted calorie diet without ACV ingestion. The test group, who received both ACV and a restricted calorie diet, lost more weight.
Unfortunately, research on the topic remains limited.
Again, speak to a doctor before adding undiluted vinegar to your daily diet. The liquid is highly acidic and can impact insulin and potassium levels. Sipping ACV in its pure form can also damage tooth enamel.
How To Make Pickle Juice at Home
If your local farmers’ market has experienced a boom in artisanal pickles offerings, you might think pickles require top-notch culinary skills. Nope! Making a quick pickle juice is pretty simple.
First, gather your ingredients. To make a quart of pickle juice, you will need the following:
- Two cups of water
- One cup of white vinegar
- One tablespoon of salt.
If you want to create a more flavorful concoction, add any of the following ingredients:
- Garlic cloves
- Red pepper flakes
- Mustard seeds
- Fresh ginger
Pro tip: add cucumber spears to give your juice a probiotic boost!
Heat the water, vinegar, and salt together in a pot. Stir to dissolve the salt. Once the mixture reaches a simmer, add any additional ingredients (minus the cucumber or other vegetable). Continue heating for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and allow the liquid to cool. Once it has cooled, pour the liquid into your desired container. You can use a strainer to remove any ingredients you don’t want to slurp down.
Add the cucumbers. That’s it! Store the pickle juice in a refrigerator for up to three weeks.
How To Make Apple Cider Vinegar at Home
Making apple cider vinegar is slightly more time-consuming (and also a little messier). But it is an excellent way to use the parts of apples that might otherwise go to waste.
To make a quart of apple cider vinegar, you will need the following:
- Three cups of water
- At least two tablespoons of sugar
- Two cups of apple peels and cores
Any variety of apples will work for ACV. You might have to increase the sugar content depending on the fruit. But for your first attempt, stick with two tablespoons of sugar.
If you’re avoiding sugar, you might be tempted to make substitutions. Don’t. Sugar is crucial to the fermentation process.
You don’t need to worry about removing the seeds or any bits of the stem as you will eventually strain the liquid.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, place them in a glass jar. Shake or stir until the sugar dissolves. Make sure all of the apples stay submerged under the water.
Then, cover the jar with a cloth and a rubber band. Place the juice in a dark place.
Let the jar sit for three to four weeks, stirring every couple of days. Make sure that the apples stay submerged. If they come into contact with the air, they can begin to develop mold.
At the end of this period, remove the apple peels and other solid items.
Then, wait for another three to four weeks. Give it a sniff. If the liquid smells strongly of vinegar, you indeed have apple cider vinegar! Otherwise, let it sit for a bit longer.