Return to Knowledge Basics
Last fall we wrote about several ways to preserve apples. We canned apple slices, apple sauce and dried apple slices in the Sun Oven®. This year, we’ve had an abundant harvest of apples again. With all that apple preservation, we were left with piles of apple cores and peelings. Homemakers of times past had the perfect use for all this “waste” – making vinegar!
So this year, we decided to give it a try.
The process includes four steps and can take up to six weeks to complete.
1. Make a clean cider from ripe apples.
2. Convert all the fruit sugar to alcohol through a process called alcohol fermentation.
3. Change all the alcohol to acetic acid referred to as acetic acid fermentation.
4. Clarify the acetic acid to prevent further fermentation and decomposition.1
Which Apples are Best?
Fall and winter apple varieties are best for making vinegar because their sugar content is higher than summer apples. Gather fruit and wash it well. We soaked our apples in a diluted solution of vinegar in water. This is recommended to remove any surface pesticides and most of the surface bacteria. While the fruit is soaking in the vinegar solution, thoroughly wash and rinse some half-gallon jars (a good run through the dishwasher works well, too).
Peel and core the apples. Leave the scraps to air. They’ll turn brown. Fill the jar about 3/4 full of scraps and top with filtered (non-chlorinated) water. We covered the jars with coffee filters held in place with a rubber band and placed the jars into a container (to catch the foam-over from the fermentation process.) Cover and place in a warm, dark place (60-80ºF.) You can leave it for up to a month. You’ll notice the contents of the jar thickens and foams and a grayish scum forms on top. 2
We separated the peelings and cores from the liquid after a week, strained the liquid into clean jars, covered them, put them back in the warm space and left them to ferment. After about a month, you can taste test it for strength. When it pleases you, strain it again and bottle it. It may be cloudy and have a sediment. This is “the mother.” This slimy looking thing consists of acetic acid bacteria and cellulose. It’s a natural product of the vinegar-making process. Filtration through a coffee filter will remove most of it. There are lots of uses for apple cider vinegar,3 from drinking it, rinsing your hair with it and using it as a cleaning product – don’t forget making pickles! Let us know what uses you have for apple cider vinegar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
Additional articles in this month’s issue: