Everyone makes their apple cider vinegar differently. Why? Because situations and apples are amazingly versatile! Lovely fruits, they are! Here, I add my own favorite to the mix!
While using apple scraps is a resourceful method of making vinegar, its more complex. Sometimes scraps manage to float to the top and there, they readily mold. In some cases, sugar is added for a sure, solid ferment. While this method is resourceful, it makes a bland-flavored ferment!
This recipe is quite foolproof (which is why I like it) and uses apple cider (American version) or apple juice (if you’re Canadian). Either way, we’re talking about raw 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. This alone makes having an electric juicer worthwhile!
A Few Tips for Apple Vinegar Making
Fruit with higher sugar content makes a stronger vinegar. If using several varieties of apples, there will be a subtle difference between finished products.
Use a wide container (rather than narrow and tall) for faster ferments. The greater the surface area, the faster the transformation!
Temperatures make a difference! The higher the temperatures, the faster your vinegar will convert! Ideal temperatures are between 60-75F (16-24C). If vinegar is kept below 60F (16C), fermentation may not occur at all!
How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar
- desired amount of fresh, raw, apple cider (unpasteurized)
- jars, a food-safe crock or even a glass bowl
- cloth and string
- Press the juice from apple according to method of choice (see how to with an electric juicer)
- Pour fresh liquid into container of choice
- Cover with cloth and secure with a string to keep fruit flies out
- Place containers where they can sit undisturbed in temperatures no lower than 60F.
- If concerned about sediment-free liquid, siphon after a few days time, leaving the bottom sediment behind. Transfer clean liquid into a new container, being sure to secure with cloth and string.
- Let sit until it begins to put off the ‘vinegar odor.’ Though it depends on the amount being fermented, you’ll want to let it give off that odor for at least a month!
- After that time, vinegar can be bottled up. Just make absolutely certain its done working before doing so!
- 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 on how to do this.
How to Store Vinegar for Future Use
Once the apple cider vinegar smells ‘ripe,’ you have options. Some boil their vinegar for 10 min to stop the bacteria and ensure that its shelf stable (and won’t burst a jar or bottle).
I don’t know about you, but I want the raw goods! 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 all sugars are eaten up by yeasts. Some say you end up with a compromised vinegar. We love it! And this stuff makes a wonderful starter for next year’s batch! It can be bottled without complications (great way to preserve the mother).
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.
How to Keep the Mother Culture Alive
It’s simple. It’s easy. Give her apple cider vinegar (live or flat) to live on and she’ll stay 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 in the next year’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!
How to Make a Continuous Ferment
This is another method for keeping the mother alive and a supply of 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), or placed in jars until it goes flat.
- 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!
There are many ways to make apple cider vinegar, but I believe this one is the most care-free and richest option!