To make your own cider vinegar, you need little more than a few apple peelings, some sugared water and a bit of time to let it develop. And it’s really that simple. The best time to make it is now – with apple season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to make good use of those excess apple scraps (particularly in the aftermath of a few too many autumnal apple crumbles).
The basic premise of making vinegar is surprisingly easy
You place your apple scraps into a jar with sugared water, cover it with a cloth and remember to stir it well everyday. This is the important bit, because by stirring it you’ll encourage the oxygenation that the acetic acid bacteria like. This is what will turn your concoction alcoholic, and in turn, into vinegar, as well as preventing any yeasts or moulds from settling on the surface.
Once you feel the liquid has absorbed as much of the flavour from the apple as it can (about a week or two), strain it, then let the mixture develop into vinegar. Keep the vinegar exposed to the air and keep stirring it every day, and your vinegar will begin to smell and taste a lot more acidic. This is fermentation at work!
Wait a couple more weeks until you bottle and cap it. You’ll notice that as your vinegar ferments, it fizzes. If you cap it prematurely, you risk a fizzy explosion that is not pretty when glass is involved. Once bottled, your vinegar will last for months.
Now for the nitty-gritty…
How to make apple cider vinegar from scratch
Place apple peelings and cores into a wide-mouthed jar. To make your sugared water use a ratio of 500ml of filtered water to 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey (it doesn’t have to be too exact!). Pour it over so it just covers the apple. Cover with a scrap of dish cloth, then leave it exposed to the air, at room temperature.
Remember to stir it vigorously everyday. After one to two weeks, your vinegar will darken in colour and start to look a bit like this.
At this point, strain the mixture into another vessel and leave it exposed to the air (still covered with the dish cloth) for another two weeks or so, stirring everyday. Once you’re happy with the acidity and it’s stopped fizzing, pop a lid on and store at room temperature.
Uses for homemade apple cider vinegar
Vinegar can be used in all sorts of ways – try it in salad dressings, use it to flavour curries in place of lemon or lime juice, or to add a nice tang to broths and soups. Using vinegar is also a super-eco way to clean your house!
And if you haven’t got enough apple scraps yet, save them up in a bag in the freezer – you can use them straight from frozen.
Once you’ve experimented with this, try it with other fruit scraps, from pears to pineapple. It all works, with interesting flavours that can really revolutionise your kitchen repertoire. And for more on fermented drinks, read more here.