One of my favourites and easiest ways to use up excess apples is making your own ACV: apple cider vinegar.
You’ve all heard of the benefits of apple cider vinegar right? All the probiotics and enzymes in there help balance your blood sugar, increase weight loss, reduces blood pressure…
Apple cider vinegar has been around for centuries and was traditionally made from pressed apple juice. Using apple juice is a great way to make ACV and that’s how I’m making it today, but don’t think you have to use whole apples on this. This way is still using only apple scraps! (Though obviously, if you have too many apples, by all means use the whole thing!)
When I used to make it previously I would weigh the apple scraps down underneath filtered water, add in some sugar and let it sit. This way does work but you have to make sure all the scraps are held under water and you need to add a little sugar.
Now what I do is juice my apple cores and peels. Even just these parts of the apple make a substantial amount of juice. You can add in some filtered water to bulk it out though if you want to make more. This new way needs no added sugar, and you don’t need to hold anything under water. The only maintenance is to scrape off any apple juice scum for the first couple of days as it rises to the top. It’s also a brilliant way to add in different types of fruit scraps for some exciting vinegar flavours such as feijoa, berries, pears, kiwifruit, stone fruits.
Once your scraps have been juiced, let it sit for a while so all the thick fruit scum rises to the top. You’ll want to separate this from the liquid. Scrape off what you can, then pour the rest through a cheesecloth, into a sterilised glass jar.
Now you can bulk it out with some filtered water if you like, don’t add more water than fruit juice though or it will be too diluted.
Then add in some already made apple cider vinegar with the mother (the floaty bits of good bacteria in there. You can buy this from the supermarket). You don’t have to add in already made vinegar but if you do it lessens the chances of bad bacteria getting in there so much.
I made my first two batches of apple cider vinegar using NO added other vinegar and they did work, by the next batch didn’t as it got some bad bacteria in there. So it works without the added vinegar, but it’s a gamble.
Then cover your container with a cheesecloth or paper towels. You definitely want there to be airflow happening when you are fermenting, otherwise, you’ll have an explosion on your hands!
Store this mixture in a warm, dark place for about 3-6 weeks. I keep mine in the cupboard under the stairs. Every couple of days in the first week or two, I’ll check the scum that has risen to the top and scrape it off. If I added in some already made vinegar, the chance of this scum growing mouldy is minimal but if you’re making it completely from scratch, then you’ll need to scrape it off. After the first week or two, you probably won’t need to scrape it anymore. It may form a white or grey topping, or a scoby on top are fine to leave.
After a couple of weeks, you can start to taste your vinegar. Once it tastes to your liking you can bottle it. If you added no extra vinegar the process will take at least 4-6 weeks. With vinegar it’s as little as 3 weeks.
- You may see a white or grey scum forming on the top of your vinegar. This is absolutely normal and is just a sign of the fermenting process. If mould grows it doesn’t mean all is lost. If it’s grey or fuzzy scoop it off before it has a chance to affect the taste of the vinegar. If dark green/black, discard the vinegar and start again.
- A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) may occasionally form on top of your vinegar. This is just all the good bacteria combined in this squidgy little disc. (And yes, you can make kombucha from this SCOBY.)
- Your vinegar will look cloudy and there will be remnants swirling around in there. These may form into another sort of squidgy disc but this one stays under the surface. This is the vinegar ‘mother’. Both the SCOBY and the Mother of Vinegar are a collection of acetic bacteria (the bacteria that oxidise the sugar and turn it into alcohol) contained in a cellulose structure, but the SCOBY contains yeast while the vinegar mother does not.
The yeast causes carbonation. This is why kombucha made with a SCOBY is fizzy, while a vinegar with the mother is not.
- You can absolutely make fruit vinegar with other types of fruit, the possibilities are endless! Apple cider vinegar is mainly so popular because of the abundance of apples. Try pear cider vinegar or plum!