Everyone makes apple cider vinegar with a different twist. Some use apple scraps. Others, juice from home-pressed apples. Some add sugar. Others add starter vinegar from an old batch to speed the process.
Today, we’re going to teach you how to make the best vinegar from raw apple juices. They can be fresh or frozen. 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.
WHY NOT USE APPLE SCRAPS?
While using apple scraps (cores and peels) is a resourceful method of making vinegar, its more likely to lead to complications. Sometimes bits of scraps manage to escape from their weight and float to the surface. There, they will readily mold (and spoil a batch) if left unchecked.
Apple scrap vinegar also makes a weaker finished product. Flavor is bland and lacking fullness found in apple vinegar.
TIPS FOR MAKING APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Ferment liquid in a wide container (rather than tall and narrow) to speed the process. The greater surface area had, the quicker liquid will move through transformation phases.
Temperatures make a difference! Ideally, your soon-to-be vinegar should sit in an environment that is between 60F-75F (16C-24C). Juices will convert to vinegar quicker if temperatures are on the higher end of the scale.
If kept below 60F (16C), fermentation process may not begin. Should they be higher (over 80F/26C), the wrong bacteria may take over and spoil the batch. But don’t worry: most homes hold to ideal temperatures for vinegar making!
Always cover the mouth of your fermenting container with breathable material. Secure with a rubber band or string to keep fruit flies out. The scent is sure to draw them in!
Should you live in a home with mold issues, you may have difficulty transforming a batch of cider into vinegar without mold forming on the surface. For the first month, check your ferment every 7 days. If scum or bubbles appear on the surface, be sure to skim them off. By doing so, you’ll likely bypass the mold issue.
Fruit with higher sugar content makes stronger vinegar and a more acidic product. If using several varieties of apples, there will be a subtle difference between finished products.
HOW TO MAKE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
- the desired amount of raw, apple cider (unpasteurized)
- jars, a food-safe crock or even a glass bowl
- cloth and string
- Press juice from apples according to method of choice (here’s how you can do it with an electric juicer).
- Strain fresh liquid through a cloth and into your fermenting container
- Cover with a clean cloth and secure with a string to keep fruit flies out
- Place containers where they can sit undisturbed in temperatures no lower than 60F/16C and no higher than 80F/26C.
- If concerned about sediment-free liquid, siphon after a few days time, leaving 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 want it to give off a strong odor for at least a month.
- Before bottling up, make absolutely certain its done working/releasing gasses!
- By the end of the fermentation stage, a mother-culture is likely to develop. Much like a kombucha scoby, it’s a thin, white rubbery substance that protects the liquid and aids in fermentation. Keep her for your next batch to speed the process! Directions are given below.
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 bacterial action and ensure liquid is shelf stable (so it won’t burst the jar or bottle).
As this kills the beneficial bacteria, we prefer the following options.
a) Let it go flat: this occurs when liquid is left in a warm place and fermenting continues until full transformation to acetic acid has taken place. This stuff makes a wonderful starter for next year’s batch. It can be sealed without complications (great way to preserve the mother).
b) Move ripe vinegar to a cold room, root cellar or refrigerator: there, it maintains it’s flavor for longer and any further fermentation is delayed. It can also be sealed up.
While we ferment juice in a 5 gallon crock, it’s hardly convenient for every day use! Instead, we siphon liquid into old jugs or wine bottles. Several go to the cold room while one or two stay in the kitchen. Mother cultures usually form on those left in a warm environment.
KEEPING A MOTHER CULTURE FOR THE NEXT BATCH
Should you wish to keep a mother culture until the next time you make vinegar, give her apple cider vinegar (live or flat) and she’ll remain happy and healthy!
Be sure to keep a cover on the container so liquid doesn’t evaporate. A canning jar with a lid will do!
HOW TO MAKE A CONTINUOUS FERMENT
If you don’t have containers large enough for the amount of vinegar you’d like to make, a continuous ferment may be your best option.
- Take unpasteurized apple juice and fill container/s. Freeze the rest for later.
- Make cider vinegar (as outlined above).
- When your ferment smells ripe, siphon off vinegar into containers of choice. Leave 2-3 inches of liquid behind. If there’s a mother culture, also leave her.
- Siphoned vinegar can be stored in cool room (see above), or kept in bottles/jugs until it goes flat.
- Remove juice from freezer. When liquid has reached room temperature, add to your fermenting container.
- Transformation will happen faster this time with the help of the mother and culture loaded vinegar!
- Repeat as needed.
HOW TO USE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
This vinegar can be used in your baking, as a tonic and in salad dressings. Because most of us don’t have reliable equipment for testing it’s pH, homemade vinegar isn’t recommended for home canning. But for everything else, it’s a green light!