Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

I love vinegar. I use balsamic in my home-made salad dressings and apple cider vinegar in my tonics. It’s really good for you just like many fermented products are. The store-bought pasteurized version is good for you, too, but not as good as the unpasteurized stuff is. All the wonderful bacteria are killed when the store-bought version is heated to nearly boiling and kept there for a few minutes. The store-bought version needs a long shelf life and the manufacturers must adhere to safety standards. Our home-made version is not heated at all. We have control over the safety. There are some precautions to take and if you do you will have a healthy success.

Making your own apple cider vinegar doesn’t happen over-night or even in a couple hours. It takes a few weeks but when you’ve made it yourself you know it’s a good thing and worth the wait! Apple cider vinegar is high in phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Yes. It’s very good stuff.

I have one word of warning. Don’t make the same mistake I did and swallow a full-strength spoonful! It felt like battery acid must feel like and it nearly ruined my throat. I recovered after many glasses of water!

Used in a tonic it doesn’t taste or feel like battery acid. It’s actually delicious. Here’s my ACV common cold tonic. I’ve used it since I first read Paavo Airola’s book How to Get Well.

Apple Cider Vinegar Cold Tonic

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water.
  • 1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raw, unfiltered honey
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 wedge lemon

Bring water to a boil. Combine the hot water and apple cider vinegar in a small glass or mug. Add honey and cayenne pepper. Stir well. Top off with a squeeze of lemon and zip as you like it. I nurse it all day long.

A Few Tips and Bits of Information

The Mother

There’s a “thing” in some unpasteurized products that’s called the “mother”. It’s technically a “SCOBY” which is an acronym for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. For example, you’ll see a mother in kombucha and other fermented products like that. It’s kind of a small pizza dough shaped “blob” and it’s what makes the vinegar. Don’t be alarmed. It’s a good thing.

Sugar or Honey?

Sugar is not much good for anything and this is my opinion. However, sugar is good for one thing and that is to feed the bacteria in apple cider vinegar. In the making of the apple cider vinegar most (if not all) of the sugar is eaten up by the bacteria. Can honey be used? Not really.  Honey has anti-microbial properties making it unsuitable for this kind of fermentation.

Be Mr. Clean

Make sure all your equipment is very clean. Bacteria is everywhere and we want to limit bacteria that is not appropriate from getting into the brew. Sterilizing as best you can is always advised.

Types of Apples

Any kind of organic apple is good. I think you get the best flavor if you have a mix of varieties. Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and McIntosh. More varieties mean more complexity to the flavor.

What’s with the white scum?

White, gelatinous scum is going to form on the top. This is normal.

However, No Mold

Mold, however, is not normal and will ruin your apple cider vinegar. Be sure that the apples stay submerged under the water which will help prevent mold. You can use a fermentation weight or even just a smaller glass jar (sterilize the outside) and set it on top of the apples to keep them submerged.

Gnats and Flies

Gnats and flies love apple cider vinegar so you need to make sure your jar is well covered. However, it needs to be able to breath and release gasses created from the fermentation process so do not use a solid lid. A layer of cheesecloth secured by a rubber band works well.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe

Gather Your Supplies

  • Sterilized jar – you can use any size jar (as long as it’s a wide mouth jar). I pour boiling water very carefully into it if I can’t get it in a hot water bath.
  • Organic apple scraps – enough to fill your jar 3/4 of the way full
  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar to 2 cups filtered water or well water
  • Fermentation weight or small glass jar that fits closely the opening of the jar
  • Cheesecloth and rubber band

Instructions

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Total Time: 6 weeks

Fill your sterilized jar 3/4 full with apple scraps. (don’t use a metal lid. Use cheesecloth. There’s a picture coming in a minute that shows this.)

Dissolve 2 tablespoons of cane sugar into 2 cups of water.

Pour the sugar water over the apples until they are completely submerged. You might not use all the sugar water but, in any case, make sure the apples are covered. They will float to a degree.

Weigh down the apples with a fermentation weight or the small glass jar.

Cover with the cheesecloth and secure with the rubber band.

Store in a dark place at room temperature. Leave it for approximately 3 weeks. Check on it every few days to make sure the apples are staying under the water and no mold is growing.

After 3 weeks, it will still smell “sweet” but will start to have that distinctive scent of apple cider vinegar. Strain the apples pieces out and return the liquid to the jar. Compost the scraps.

Re-cover and put the jar back in the dark spot for another 3-4 weeks, stirring gently every few days. When the ACV has reached the acidity you like you can put a lid on it and start using it!

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