DIY Cider Vinegar Bitter Tonic

Make your own alcohol-free digestive bitters

Doctor Jarvis, who studied medicine in our hometown of Burlington, Vermont, was perhaps the epitome of the New England country doctor. He worked during the first half of the 1900s, helping countless patients, visiting homes of friends and neighbors, and relying on strategies that supported and nourished – the same tonic approach we favor today. But he is perhaps best known for popularizing the use of apple cider vinegar, recommending its use for a range of common, everyday complaints. We may owe the recent popularity of switchel, fire cider, shrubs and other infused vinegars to the old country doctor. His popular remedy makes sense: New England is rich in apples, and every fall, pressed and fermented into cider, he had access to endless quantities of raw, natural vinegar. Ever practical, Dr. Jarvis realized that this abundant natural product (already popular with old-time Vermonters) could provide a range of health benefits.*

Some of the classic uses for apple cider vinegar include supporting healthy digestion, especially the occasional bout of heartburn and healthy metabolism.* This seemed to  us to provide a perfect match for the traditional European digestive bitters, another classic digestive and digestive remedy.* Furthermore, since apple cider vinegar’s fermentation process converts alcohol into acetic acid, steeping the right herbs and roots in vinegar provides a way to enjoy all the benefits of bitters in a preparation made without alcohol.

Make Your Own Apple Cider Vinegar Bitters

For a bitter tonic, we rely on the time-honored bitter roots that serve as the foundation, burdock and dandelion roots. These are also excellent sources of prebiotic starches, important for maintaining a healthy gut flora.* Because apple cider vinegar has a strong sour flavor, we needed more of the powerful bittering agents – gentian and artichoke – to fully stimulate our bitter taste receptors both on the tongue and throughout the digestive tract. Finally, the formula includes a little ginger, fennel, and orange peel, to add warmth and spice to balance the more cooling roots and herbs. 

The formula is versatile enough to use as your go-to daily bitter tonic, as it strengthens and tonifies digestive function, relieves occasional heartburn and indigestion, encourages gentle daily liver detoxification.* 

We like to think that, had he known more about the power of bitters, old Doctor Jarvis might have added a few to his apple cider vinegar blends himself.

DIY Cider Vinegar Bitter Tonic


Materials needed:

  • 1-quart glass jar, with a plastic top. 
  • Knife and cutting board 


  • ½ cup dried Gentian root 
  • ½ cup dried Dandelion root (or half dried root, half fresh dandelion leaves)
  • ½ cup dried Burdock root or fresh root chopped.
  • ½ cup dried Artichoke leaf
  • 2 tbsp. dried Fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp. dried or fresh Orange peel
  • 2 tbsp. dried or fresh Ginger root
  • 2-3 cups Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

 DIY Cider Vinegar Bitter Tonic


  1. Chop herbs as needed.
  2. Mix all of the herbs together in the jar.
  3. Cover with 2 cups ACV. Shake well, making sure all herbs are covered, top off with the extra ACV cup and let it sit overnight. 
  4. Come back tomorrow and add more ACV to cover the herbs completely if need be.
  5. Let sit for about 2 weeks covered, shaking regularly.
  6. Drain out the liquid to retain, and compost the herbs. 
  7. Bottle and label your apple cider vinegar bitters, and enjoy in good health. 

Use ½ tsp before or after meals, in a little water or as is, enjoyed up to 6 times per day. 

These will stay good for about 2-3 months unrefrigerated. 


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