Have you been throwing out organic apple peels and cores, then paying a premium for organic apple-cider vinegar? I have, but no more! It's ridiculous easy to make your own apple-cider vinegar using my recipe below. Scale the proportions up or down to suit your containers and the amount of apple scraps you have.
Homemade apple-cider vinegar is practically free. My local Harris Teeter is selling 16 ounces for $4.49 and I can make that much in 5 minutes for the cost of a 1/4 cup of sugar: less than six cents! That's like making $88 an hour!
What's with the cloth and solid lids below? Air needs to come in contact with the liquids during two stages of fermentation. Wild yeast that occurs naturally in the air ferments the apples, sugar, and water into a weak alcohol (cider). Then a harmless bacteria called acetobacter ferments the cider into vinegar if enough oxygen is available. When these processes are done, you use a solid cap to keep the vinegar clean and minimize evaporation.
Homemade Organic Apple Cider Vinegar from Cores and Peels
Active time: 5 minutes. Total time: 6 weeks. Yield: about 1 cup.
- 1 cup apple cores and, optionally, peels
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Find a glass or ceramic container and a glass or ceramic plate or other container that fits just inside the first one. Run the containers through the dishwasher or dip them into boiling water to get them very clean.
- Put apple cores, peels if using, and sugar in the larger container. Add water so apple parts are covered by about an inch. Stir. Put second container on top to keep the apple parts from poking up into the air. Cover with a clean tea towel and let ferment in a dark place at room temperature (60° to 85°F) for a week.
- Every few days, stir the mixture and spoon off any mold. Enjoy the bubbles that will start to form and don't worry about the mold: it's normal.
- Pour mixture through a clean strainer into very clean jar. Cover with clean cloth, such as cheese cloth, a bit of cotton, or a scrap of old pantyhose. Secure fabric with a rubber band or the ring from a canning jar. Store in a cool, dark place for about six weeks.
- When the liquid smells and tastes like vinegar, pour it into a sterilized, narrow-necked bottle and seal with a lid. Vinegar will last for several weeks at room temperature, longer in the refrigerator, and indefinitely if you heat it to 140°F before bottling it. That's it! Use as desired for salad dressings, cooking, homemade vegetable spray, and cleaning.
- Taste the vinegar with a clean spoon. Notice that it's not sweet at all. The wild yeast have eaten all the sugar as part of the fermentation process.
- Don't worry about the ghostly mother of vinegar that may be floating in the jar. It's not only harmless, many people believe it has healing properties. I leave it in my vinegar but you can filter it out by pouring your vinegar through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into another very clean container.
- Speed up your next batch of vinegar by adding a spoonful of mother of vinegar to it.
- Don't use this vinegar for preserving other food unless you have a way to test its strength. Mine seems to be milder than store-bought vinegar. It might not be fierce enough to keep your food safe over long periods.