I am a big fan of apple cider vinegar (ACV). There are dozens of purported benefits for health. It has antimicrobial properties, which makes it a great alternative to chemical laden cleaning products. Plus, it tastes pretty darn good and makes a great everyday vinegar for salad dressings and other cooking needs. The only drawback? Natural, unpasteurized ACV that contains the mother (that cloudy glob that floats at the bottom) can be a bit pricey. Unless you make it yourself, of course. I’ve done the research and have successfully made several batches of the stuff in order to be your test guinea pig. You’re welcome. Out of all of the recipes out in blog-o-land this is my favorite.
Simple 365 – #58 – Easy homemade apple cider vinegar
You’ll need: 3-4 organic apples (I use the ones that have been around too long and are starting to wrinkle)
1/2 cup raw honey or granulated sugar
Half-gallon wide mouth jar
Cheesecloth, unbleached muslin, or clean kitchen towel
Rubber band or canning jar ring
Simply chop up the apples, skin, seeds, and all, and put into the jar. Make sure you have enough apples to reach more than halfway up the jar. Add filtered water to cover the apples, stop about an inch from the top of the jar. Stir in honey or sugar – use a wooden spoon or the wooden handle of a spatula, not metal, as I’ve heard that metal can react with the fermentation. Now cover the jar with cheesecloth or muslin, attach rubber band or ring. Place the jar in a dark-ish part of your countertop away from any direct sunlight. Check and stir twice a day. The apple mixture will begin to ferment creating apple cider. You’ll be able to smell when that starts to happen. At the end of the week check to see if bubbles are forming and the apples are beginning to sink. I like to wait 8-10 days just to be certain that the fermentation process has really taken hold.
Next, strain out the apple chunks. Place the juice back into the jar. Cover and let the jar sit on your countertop for an additional 5 or 6 weeks covered with the fabric. At the end of 6 weeks give the vinegar a taste. If it is still too sweet and not vinegary enough allow it to remain out. At this point you can place it in a cupboard or pantry, just be sure and keep an eye on it. It takes quite a while to reach the sour level that I like – two months at the very least. For my taste preferences four months is best. This is not a quick recipe, folks, but more than worth the effort. Once the vinegar is to your taste place a lid on the vinegar and put it in your pantry with your other vinegars. Some people will tell you to keep it in the refrigerator, but I don’t find that necessary. I have a large jar in my pantry that I use to replenish my smaller jar. It is more than five months old and still looks and tastes great.
That’s it! You’ll see a cloudy glob form on the bottom of the jar. You may also notice one forming at the top. If that bothers you just stir it a bit and the top layer will sink to the bottom. This is called the Mother. The mother is simply naturally occurring pectin (from the apples) and proteins that form during fermentation. Kombucha fans will know exactly what I’m talking about.
Next week I’ll give you several ways to incorporate ACV into your everyday life. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without it or, at the very least, how you managed to live without making it for yourself. Until then, hope you have a chance to get a jar started of your own.