I know they say in the blogging world that you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel; meaning don’t write about stuff that has already been written about. Well I have two thoughts about that:
First, it’s almost impossible to come up with completely novel content. We do try us bloggers, but it’s hard. There are millions of blogs and even more blog posts. Chances are if you have thought of an idea, someone else somewhere in the world has already had that idea… twice.
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For my second point I will tell you a random completely made up tale (cause that’s just how I roll) in hopes of making my point. You live in a small village. Your days are spent under the yoke of heavy and backbreaking labour. Constantly bending and picking up extremely heavy and awkward objects up and moving them to another place. For years you toil away under these conditions wishing and hoping for a better way. On your death bed (due to an injury no doubt) you learn that the neighbouring village invented a tool; a magical circle that made the task of moving and hauling heavy objects much easier and more efficient. For years they had this tool – ‘the wheel’ they call it – and did not share their knowledge.
Now I don’t know about you, but I would be angry that they did not think to share this knowledge with their neighbours! Perhaps they thought you already knew because that knowledge was already out there? Perhaps they feared copyright infringement. We may never know. Now how can I, as a writer, not share with you a wickedly awesome idea simply because others have written about it? I’ve had three requests for this blog in one night alone! Far be it from me to not share this with you.
So here we go folks; how to turn kitchen scraps (otherwise known as compost/garbage) into glorious, homemade, fermented apple cider vinegar.
Cue the trumpets….
- apple peels, cores or diced pieces (preferably from organic and/or unsprayed apples)
- one litre (quart) sized mason jar
- 2 tbsp of sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
- 2 cups of filtered water
- glass weight (or a smaller jar)
- cloth, cheese cloth or dish towel
- elastic band
Ensure your jar, apples and all utensils are clean. It’s important that you don’t accidentally introduce foreign bacteria to your culture. It’s also important that you use good quality, unsprayed or organic apples. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t eat it, then don’t use it to make your vinegar. You can use whole apples (diced into small pieces) or you can use peels and cores leftover from other projects (like applesauce or apple butter making).
Fill your jar 3/4 of the way full with your apples (cores, peels or pieces).
Add 2 tbsp of sugar to the jar and pour your two cups of filtered water in. Your apples need to be completely submerged under the water during the entire fermentation process. You can add more water if you’d like but I do recommend getting some sort of glass weight (or using a smaller jar on top) to keep your peels from floating above the water. This process takes weeks and anything above the water will go moldy ruining your batch of apple cider vinegar.
Side note: I have seen folks use plastic ziploc bags filled with rocks as a way to weigh down their apples. It’s okay to be creative, just make sure everything is clean and sterile and you are good to go.
Cover your jar with a breathable material of some kind – cheese cloth, cotton cloth or dish towel. Secure your material with an elastic band because the fruit flies will LOVE this and if they get inside it will ruin your vinegar.
Store in a fairly warm (room temperature is fine) environment away from direct light. The cooler your room is the longer it will take to ferment but it will still work.
After about three days or so you should start to see bubbles forming (that means it’s working since the bubbles are a by-product the fermentation process). It’s wise to check your ferment every few days just to ensure all the peels and such are still submerged under the water.
You may start to see a culture form on the surface of your apple cider vinegar (or it may start to go cloudy). If so, that’s great news! That is called “the mother” and it can be kept and used to create a new batch of apple cider vinegar (see the subsequent batches section). If one didn’t form that’s okay too. As long as it smells like vinegar you are making vinegar.
After about four weeks you will be ready to strain out your apples. Ensure you don’t waste that apple goodness! Feed them to your pets, chickens or your compost, but whatever you do don’t chuck them in the garbage. There is too much awesomeness in them to go to waste. We feed it to the chickens and they LOVE it.
Pour your liquid back into your jar and allow it to ferment for another 2-3 weeks. This part is personal taste preference as the longer you let it sit the more vinegary it will taste so I recommend tasting it every 5-7 days. It is at this point where my “mother’ usually forms.
Once your vinegar tastes the way you want it to, bottle it and seal it with a lid. I personally keep my apple cider vinegar at room temperature but many folks prefer the fridge. Either works.
For future batches of apple cider vinegar you can change up your process just slightly (if you want). It’s also perfectly fine to keep using the above method each time you make vinegar.
To speed up the process for your subsequent batches you can add a small amount (about 1/4 cup for a litre sized mason jar) of your apple cider vinegar from a previous batch. You can also toss in that “mother” you worked so hard to create. This is considered adding in a starter culture and this will speed up your process.
If you don’t want to use the “mother” you can always feed that to your chickens or pets too.
A Little Bit About Fermentation
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least touch on the subject of fermentation and what exactly we are doing when we make our homemade apple cider vinegar. If you have made milk kefir, kombucha or a ginger bug before then you are very familiar with fermentation and it’s wonderful health benefits.
Fermentation is a process that occurs in an anaerobic environment (meaning without oxygen) with the help of beneficial microorganisms (bacteria, yeast etc.) Now if you think this sounds gross please be assured that folks have been consuming fermented foods for many many years. If you have ever had yogurt, sauerkraut or sourdough then you are consuming a fermented product.
During the process of fermentation, the beneficial microorganisms break down the sugar and starches in your ferment and transform them into alcohols and vinegars. These foods are rich in beneficial bacterias (probiotics) that help to improve digestion and overall health.
Thanks for joining me and I wish you the best of luck on your apple cider making adventures!