Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How I made Apple Cider Vinegar

I've been so busy with the garden over the last few months and my lack of blog posts made me think that I was cooking less.  I have been doing a lot of cooking - but mostly making things from recipes I've already posted.  It is really nice to have a 'critical mass' of recipes that represent my family's meals.

I have though been doing a fair amount of preserving.  I currently crave a food dehydrator and tonight I start my first attempt at dehydrating using our oven.  I've made my usual autumn jams/ jellies and the chest freezer we purchased prior to my hospitalisation last year is full of tomato soup, frozen berries and blanched vegetables.

We have been picking and eating a lot of apples so I was very pleased to make my own apple cider vinegar.  It costs about ten dollars for 250ml from our supermarket so having made a litre for very little work made me very happy!

How I made Apple Cider Vinegar is based on three to four minutes of clicking through dozens of websites.  I was inspired by a post on the Wellington Garden Share Facebook page.

How I made Apple Cider Vinegar.

Day one, week one.

Get a very clean glass or plastic food safe container (I used a ten litre glass jar).  Sterilise (I used the Iodopher that came with my cheese making kit).

Fill the glass jar with apple peels and cores (more peels than cores).  Cover with water.  (You may wish to put a plate or something over top of the peels to keep them below the water.  Add a teaspoon of sugar. Put a muslin over the top of the container and secure with a rubber band.

Put in a consistently warm place out of direct sunlight (I put next to the fridge on the floor).  

Shake gently each day.

Week two or three

After a week or two you should notice signs of fermentation (fizzy or bubbly).  Strain the mixture into a clean bowl, clean the original container and put the strained contents back inside.  You should have a weak, fermented apple juice.  Add the mother (the cloudy bit or jelly like bit) from a purchased jar of fermented apple cider vinegar.  Try not to use a metal utensil.  Many sites claim that metal might somehow deactivate the mother, but none I read gave a plausible explanation.

Leave in a consistently warm place out of direct sunlight.  Cover with a muslin (do this until you are sure that fermentation has ended, otherwise the lid might pop/ explode off.

Week three to five

After a week or two you should notice that the mother is increasing in size.  There should be no other signs of fermentation.  When the mother is quite thick and gelatinous and covering most of the surface of the vinegar you can remove it.  Put the mother into a clean glass jar and add about half a cup of vinegar - you can then reuse it for other vinegar making.

Bottle the apple cider vinegar and leave for another couple of weeks to age. It should smell and taste vinegary - mine is also a glorious pink colour and has a definite smell of apple. Glorious.


Do not use this vinegar for preserves.  Recipes for preserving rely on known ingredients and it is hard to know from batch to batch exactly what the composition of the final apple cider vinegar is.  For example, some websites mention testing the ph level to determine if the vinegar is acidic enough for preserving.  I think with preserves it is best to be safe and use commercial products.  Use this vinegar in water for a drink or for dressings.