Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar was a total buzz food a few years ago as we learned the benefits of prebiotics (and probiotics). As far as I know, it still lives up to it’s name, being fed now to livestock to reduce methane emissions, improve chicken health and used in immune tonics everywhere. A good ACV is delicious, strong and contains live bacteria and yeast, just like kombucha or sauerkraut, only different strains. A good ACV is also quite expensive, so making your own can save you a lot of money and you’ll be surprised how easy it is! The secret to a good ACV is organic apples, and patience. It takes a couple of months to develop one from scratch, and I recommend always having one brewing on the shelf to replenish stocks. By the way, organic apples (from the grocer, your backyard, farm gate or roadside) are preferential as they’re unlikely to have chemical residue or wax coating that reduces the present of wild yeasts – these are essential for the fermentation process. To reduce waste, I recommend either using damaged apples, or the peel and cores and eat the flesh in a pie or something else yummy.
- A large food-grade bucket or glass jar, at least 1.5L
- About two cups of apple scraps, or chopped unpeeled apples (more is fine)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1L unchlorinated water
- ¼ cup ready-made live ACV
- Open wave cloth and elastic band
As this recipe is for 1L, adjust as required if making a larger batch.
Dissolve sugar in one cup (250ml) of the water. Add this to all ingredients in bucket or jar, stir really well, cover with cloth and elastic, and sit in a dark place (or in indirect light) for two weeks.
Stir well each day or when you remember/walk past in this time, as oxygen is important in this process. You should notice bubbling in a couple of days, and over time a nice appley but sour smell, a bit like cider.
After about two weeks (faster if it’s warm in your house, slower if it’s cooler) the bubbling will slow right down. This is when you need to strain out the apple pieces, compost them, and return the liquid to the jar/bucket covered with a cloth. Leave this to sit for around two months, smelling and stirring occasionally to observe it’s progress.
Over time, it may produce a smell like acetone or nail polish remover. This is normal and is a sign it has longer to go – just wait a few more weeks. In the beginning, yeasts initiate fermentation and create alcohols and acids. When it’s done, it may settle on the bottom as a white cloudy sediment. Over time, acetobacter will colonise the brew and create more acetic acid (vinegar). This is when it tastes sour, hit’s the back of your nose, but still tastes somewhat appley. Your brew is ready to bottle!
Bottle your finished brew in clean glass jars or bottles, sealed, and store in a cool place like your pantry. You can now use some of this ACV to start your next batch.
Note that over time, you may see a white, jelly-like layer form on top of your ACV. This is a SCOBY a bit like that used for kombucha, and it’s normal. It can be used to help ferment your next brew, so keep it!
Use your ACV to make scrap Fire Cider here.
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