Making 'apple cider' vinegar
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Its Autumn, my favourite season, and apples are ripening on trees all around the UK. We are very lucky to have a lot of apple trees in our garden. We have 6 large mature apple trees that were already here when we moved in, and we have planted an additional 3 since we moved in...not counting the crab apples.
However this means we have a LOT of apples to deal with at this time of the year and I do not like to waste any of them. As we are based in Herefordshire its not always easy to give them away because so many people have apple trees in their own gardens! So I have to be creative in ways that use them all up.
I discovered it's really simple to make your own apple cider vinegar. Its not made in exactly the same way in that commercial apple cider vinegar is made but the process is the same. Commercially cider is made from apple juice, and then turned into vinegar. Making it at home involves infusing water with apples, and additional sugar/hone. The process takes the apple sugars and the added sugars, and turns them into ethanol (alcohol) and which is then transformed into vinegar. Both methods make acetic acid (vinegar) through fermentation....
I make large batches but you can make a batch as small as you want to. If you eat an apple a day, cut the cores out before you eat the apple and use this to make vinegar. You can use apple peelings as well. If you are lucky and have apple trees you can use windfall apples too as long as they aren't bruised and damaged. I always follow the rule if I wouldn't eat it then I won't preserve it.
To make apple cider vinegar simple place your apple pieces into a container and cover with water. Measure the water you are adding so you can calculate the correct amount of sugar to add to the mix. For every 2 pints of water I add a scant 1/3 cup of sugar (70g). You can use honey if you don't want to use refined sugar but the process will take longer.
It's important to keep the apple piece fully submerged under the water as it ferments to prevent mould forming. I find that a heavy clean tea towel or similar piece of fabric holds the apple pieces down best. I struggled to get plates with weights to work well
Everything used in the process must be clean! This is really important.
Place your container out of the way for 3-4 weeks. Cover it with a cloth to stop anything falling into, and flies if its the summer.
As the vinegar is produced you will get a white scum, and white floating bits. This is normal, and a desirable part of the process. Eventually the 'Mother' will form which is the good bacteria that enable vinegar to be made. Its seen as 'healthy' by a huge group of people and you can even buy apple cider vinegar with the mother in it now in shops...
After 3-4 weeks remove the apple pieces and then put your cloth back on and leave to ferment for another 3-4 weeks.
I test my vinegar with my children's made science kit! Its just a basic pH strip test. Most instructions just tell you to bottle when its tart enough... I like to know the pH is about 3 before I bottle mine. Commercial vinegar it between pH 2 and 3.
When its ready decant it into clear bottles or jars. I use glass jars or milk bottles for mine...
I use it for so many things from cleaning to conditioner to a tonic for my chickens! It really is worth making its so much cheaper than buying it and its uses are endless.