We are heading into apple season when you suddenly notice that there are apple trees everywhere. I personally already have them coming out of my ears and it’s not even autumn yet! Obviously, there are only so many apples a person can eat, so processing them is the way to use them up.
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 but if you don’t have bucket loads of apples to spare or a means to make juice, this isn’t the most cost-effective option.
Today I’m making apple cider vinegar using my apple scraps: peel, core, pips and all!
I’m only using three ingredients: Apple, water and an unrefined sugar.
Organic apples are necessary, especially when you’re using the peel. For the sugar, I use coconut sugar though you can use any unrefined sugar of your choosing. How much sugar is needed depends on the sweetness of your apples. The role of the sugar is, when it combines with yeast, this is what turns the apple scrap/water mixture into alcohol, and then, in turn, this alcohol is fermented again and turned into vinegar.
If you are thinking of using honey as your sweetener, be aware that this will slow down your ferment a lot. This is because honey is antibacterial so it will also kill a lot of the bacteria and wild yeasts you need to make the ferment happen.
The yeast part of this ACV is added naturally, through wild yeasts in the air as well as on the apple scraps themselves. You can add extra yeast such as wine yeast into your batch to speed up the fermenting process, as well as a few tablespoons of an already finished apple cider vinegar though these steps are absolutely optional, they only speed things up.
The container you brew your ACV in is also of importance. It needs to be a non-reactive material such as glass or stainless steel. Don’t make your vinegar in a plastic container.
The container must be sterilised too so you’re not introducing any nasty bacteria to your ferment. I wash my glass containers then let them dry in an oven on 120 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes to sterilise them.
Once your apple scraps, water and sugar are combined, some of the apples will float to the top. You need to keep them submerged to avoid any mould growing on them. I use a wad of baking paper, or a clean ziplock bag filled with water and push it down in the jar to hold down the apples.
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 weeks. I keep mine in the cupboard under the stairs. This is the time where alcohol is made and your mixture will bubble. Place a towel under your containers to soak up any spillage as the mixture may bubble over the top. After this time you can strain out the apple pieces and return the vinegar to the same container.
Place your vinegar back in the warm, dark place for another 4-6 weeks. After a couple of weeks, you can start to taste your vinegar. Once it tastes to your liking you can bottle it.
The longer you leave it, the stronger the vinegar will become. The next time you make your apple cider vinegar, using a few tablespoons of this batch will speed up the next batch’s fermenting process.
- 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!
- The amount of sugar needed for this process varies depending on the sweetness of your fruit. I go by a general rule of 1 tsp of unrefined sugar to every 230 ml of water. This can be reduced if your apples are super sweet, or increased if they are tart, or if you are using a different fruit with less sugar.
- If you have a large amount of peels and cores, juice them! Making the ACV from this juice makes an even tastier vinegar. You also won’t need to add sugar, or use anything to weigh it down. Just scrape off the apple ‘scum’ every couple of days.
Apple Cider Vinegar with Apple Scraps
- Organic Apple pieces (any part of the apple can be used, just make sure it is washed if using the peel.)
- Unrefined sugar
- Combine your apple pieces in a sterilised glass or stainless steel container, about 3/4 full. Cover with enough water until the apples are submerged.
- Add in 1tsp of unrefined sugar per 230ml water.
- Use a weight such as a wad of baking paper to hold down the apples and keep them submerged under the water.
- Cover the container with a cheesecloth or paper towels and place in a warm, dark place on top of a towel.
- Leave for 3 weeks, checking on it every so often to clean up any messes from the mixture bubbling over.
- Strain the out the apples and return the mixture back into the container and back into the warm, dark place.
- Leave for another 4-6 weeks, stirring and tasting occasionally. When the vinegar is to your liking you can bottle it.
How easy is that! A million times cheaper than store bought, and tastes a whole lot better too!
Let me know if you try this, or with another fruit in the comments below!