Everyone does this differently. Why? Because apples are amazingly versatile! Lovely fruits, they are! I’m adding my own favorite to the mix!
While using apple scraps is a resourceful method of making vinegar, it is similar to the raspberry variety. In most cases, sugars must be added for a sure, solid ferment. The results is a lack of flavor!
This recipe is quite foolproof and uses apple cider (if you’re American) or apple juice (Canadian). We’re talking juice from freshly picked, just-pressed apples.
The flavorful result of this method is a delight to the palate! Absolutely the richest and most delicious I’ve ever found in apple vinegar!
But first, a few things you ought to know!
- Fruit with higher sugar content makes a stronger vinegar. If using several varieties of apples, there will be a difference between finished products
- Use a wide container for quick ferments. More surface area=faster transformation
- High temperature 27C-33C (80F-90F) make for a 3 month+ finish while lower temperatures 16C-21C (60F-70F) make for a 5-7 month process.
- In temperatures lower than 60F (16C), apple cider may not transform at all.
- Siphoning for pure liquid is an option but not a necessity. I usually do.
- Never seal up active vinegar unless its in the cool room that holds to the appropriate temperatures!
Apple Cider Vinegar
- desired amount of fresh, raw, apple cider (unpasteurized)
- jars, a food-safe crock or even a glass bowl
- cloth and string
- pour fresh liquid into container of choice
- Cover with cloth and secure with string to keep fruit flies out
- Place containers where they can sit undisturbed in temperatures no lower than 60F.
- Siphon after several days and transfer into a new container if you wish for a ‘pure’ vinegar!
- Let sit until it begins to put off the ‘vinegar odor.’ Try some. You’ll love it!
- There should be a thin, filmy white substance floating over the surface of the vinegar. It’s a mother-culture and she’s a good thing! Keep her all winter and add to next year’s ferment! See below for more information. But first, let’s talk storage!
Storing Vinegar for Future Use
Once the vinegar smells ‘ripe,’ you have options. Some boil their vinegar for 10 min to make it shelf stable (killing the bacteria), but I want that good stuff! It’s the whole purpose in making my own vinegar (ok, maybe the delicious flavor has some thing to do with it!). I want those good guys to help me through the winter months!
As I’m all about live cultures, I prefer to either
a) Let it go flat: this occurs when liquid is left in a warm place and fermenting continues until sugars are eaten up by yeasts. Some say you end up with a compromised vinegar. However, this stuff it still good as a starter for next year’s batch! It can be bottled without complications (great way to preserve the mother). Or, there’s the preferred method…
b) Move everything to the cold room: take the fermenting containers with vinegar/mother culture and place on the cool room shelf. Keep cloths in place.
For easy use, I siphon off several wine-bottles full and seal with corks (see Bottling Raw Vinegar). Some stay in the cool room and one goes to the refrigerator. Due to the cool temperatures, fermentation will come to a halt though mini mother cultures will usually form.
Keeping the Mother Culture Alive
It’s simple. It’s easy. Give her apple cider vinegar (live or flat) to live on and she’ll be happy and healthy! Last year I left her in my upstairs pantry, floating on 1-2 inches of vinegar in my 5 gallon crock. I planned to use her for next fall’s ferment!
Unfortunately, I didn’t stop to think about evaporation! Sad. My poor mother began growing strange mold and didn’t like resting on the sediment on the bottom of the crock! I lost my mother. Next year, I know: either put her in the cool room and keep her there, or else place her in a 1 gallon jar with some vinegar and cover with a lid to stop evaporation!
This is another method for keeping the mother alive and a supply fresh apple vinegar all year ’round! It requires lots of apple cider and freezer space! We can’t seem to keep ourselves from drinking our fresh-pressed cider, so we don’t use this method, amazing as it is!
- Make cider vinegar (see above)
- Take excess apple cider and freeze with future vinegar in mind
- When ferment smells ripe, siphon off liquid to be used and leave 2-3 inches of vinegar behind, along with mother culture.
- Siphoned vinegar can be stored in cool room (see above).
- Take frozen cider in amount wanted. Thaw on counter. When liquid is at room temperature (do not put cold cider into vinegar!) add to fermenting container.
- Vinegar will ferment quickly with help of mother and extra, culture loaded vinegar!
- Repeat as needed! Lovely plan, this is!