Making your own organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a healthy and frugal activity that doesn't take much effort or time. Using scraps leftover from making a pie or applesauce, you can easily produce your own vinegar in an hour over the weekend. It has a multitude of uses in the kitchen and around the home, making ACV one of the most versatile and useful products in the home.
You can easily produce a gallon of ACV for less than the cost of a commercially-produced bottle, and your vinegar is guaranteed to be raw and organic.
1. Choose The Right Apples
The type of apple isn't as important as their quality. You can choose sweet, tart, or sour ones. Choose ones that you know are organic and that come from a reputable source. Use the freshest fruit possible.
Because I make a lot of applesauce, I tend to use Red Delicious apples, but you can use any kind you like.
You can either use the whole fruit (cut up), or just scraps, such as the peel and cores. Be sure they're not bruised, and to wash them well before peeling them.
Use a hand-held peeler to make the process simpler since you will need to pack the scraps into a jar.
2. Choose A Fermentation Vessel
Decide if you will ferment your apples into vinegar in a mason jar, crock, or other container. Avoid plastic, since it's hard to sterilize and can cause off-flavors in your vinegar. Make sure the container's mouth is wide.
Mason jars are best to use because they're easy to sterilize. The vinegar can be easily seen during the fermentation process, and it's easier to see if there's any mold or contaminants in the jar.
3. Mixing Your Ingredients
After the apples are prepared, mix 1/4 cup raw organic honey with 1 cup of filtered water. It doesn't need to dissolve entirely, but just enough so it slightly diluted. The honey will allow the fermentation process to begin.
Put them into your mason jar (or other fermentation vessel). Leave 2 inches of head room at the top of the jar, and add your honey mixture. Continue to add water until all the apple scraps are submerged.
4. Starting The Fermentation Process
The most important step in making ACV is to make sure the scraps stay below the surface of the water. Fermentation is an anerobic process, and if the fruit isn't below the surface of the water, mold and other bacteria will contaminate your vinegar.
To ensure the scraps stay below the water's surface, use a weight to press the mixture down. Choose something that's easy to remove from the jar.
Once the apples are completely below the water's surface, cover the jar's opening with cheesecloth. This will allow the fermentation process to begin, but will keep out contaminants.
Put your vinegar in a dark but warm location, where you can check it often. Stir the vinegar whenever you remember, and be sure to keep the scraps below the surface of the water.
5. Checking On Your Vinegar's Progress
After 2 weeks, check on your vinegar. Turning to alcohol (hard apple cider) is a normal part of the process. It will ferment into vinegar eventually.
At this point, remove the scraps, and return the liquid to the jar to complete the fermentation process.
As long as it doesn't smell moldy or have other off-smells, return the mixture to a dark, warm place in your kitchen, and allow it to sit another 4-6 weeks to turn into vinegar. The longer you leave it to ferment, the more it will create a strong vinegar scent.
If any brown scum forms on the top of the mixture, just skim it off. It's harmless, and part of the fermentation process.
Once your vinegar has completed fermenting, it's ready to use. You can store it on a shelf, and it won't go bad. You'll have raw, organic apple cider vinegar to use whenever you want, and for the myriad uses it has in the kitchen and around the home.