This apple cider vinegar recipe post shows you how to turn your apple pieces (or even apple scraps) into vinegar.
One of my favorite and easiest ways to use up excess apples is making your DIY apple cider vinegar, otherwise known as ACV.
The great thing is you can use other fruit to make homemade vinegar too! Think plum vinegar, feijoa vinegar, or pear vinegar! Homemade fruit vinegar is delicious in salad dressings! (like in this herbed green salad dressing recipe
Health benefits of apple cider vinegar
You’ve all heard of the benefits of apple cider vinegar. All the probiotics and enzymes in there help balance your blood sugar and weight loss, boost skin health, and reduce blood pressure.
Apple cider vinegar has been around for centuries and is traditionally made from pressed apple juice. Using apple juice is a great way to make apple cider vinegar but if you don’t have bucketloads of apples to spare or a means to make juice, this isn’t the easiest option.
The taste is tangy, and tart with a mere hint of sweetness. It can have a strong or milder taste depending on how long the vinegar is left to ferment and the kind of apples used.
You can make your own apple cider vinegar using simple as anything ingredients – Apples, water, and sugar. And, you don’t even need the whole apples! You can use the apple scraps to make it, such as the apple cores and peels.
- Fresh apples (or other fruit) – Organic or spray-free apples are best for this, especially in recipes that use fruit peel. If you’ve got apple trees, then that’s perfect! In homemade apple cider vinegar, you are relying on wild yeasts to create alcohol out of the apples, which in turn will make vinegar. Wild yeasts are everywhere around us, including on apple peels.
- Sugar- For the sugar, use granulated sugar. It’s only going to get eaten by the yeast, so there’s no need to get fancy. The role of the sugar is when it combines with yeast, this is what turns the fruit and sugar water mixture into alcohol. Then, in turn, this alcohol is fermented again and turned into real apple cider vinegar. Sugar speeds up the process, and it greatly reduces the chances of contamination. The sugar is going to be converted during the process into ethanol and carbon dioxide. The faster it becomes cider and then vinegar, the less chance of contamination. I use around 10% sugar in water.
- Water – To be safe, use filtered water for your homemade apple cider vinegar. You could use your tap water (my tap water works perfectly fine for my vinegar and ferment.) However, some tap water contains too much chlorine, which can hinder fermentation. You can use boiled and cooled water filtered water, or leave tap water to sit out for 12 hours to let the chlorine dissipate.
- A fermentation vessel. I use a large wide-mouth jar. The wide mouth means it is easy to pack fruits into it and the glass means it’s non-corrosive and easy to clean.
- A weight – (optional). Something to hold the apple pieces under the water. This is not crucial, though. If you have no weight to hold it down, just give the mixture a gentle shake 2-3 times each day during the fermentation process. If you do have a weight to hold it down, the chance of mold growing on the apple is less, but the mixture should still be given a gentle shake at least once daily while the fruit pieces are in the liquid.
- An airlock – This is optional but helpful for the first stage of the apple cider vinegar process, as the yeast makes alcohol. It allows gases to escape but lessens the chances of bad bacteria getting in. If you don’t have an airlock, a lid can be screwed on and released each day as the mixture is shaken to release the gases. Alternatively, use a tea towel secured with a rubber band.
- An apple peeler – if you are making apple cider vinegar from scraps, an apple peeler like the one pictured below is great. The apple slices it makes can be dehydrated for apple chips, and you’re left with just the peel and core, which can be made into vinegar.
Making hard cider – The stage before it is vinegar
Combine your apple pieces in a sterilized large mason jar or another glass jar, so it is about 1/2- 3/4 full. Measure out your water and add in 10% sugar. Pour this into the jar over the fruit, leaving at least 2cm headspace at the top of the jar. If you’ve got one, use a sterilized glass fermenting weight to hold down the apple pieces and keep the pieces submerged under the water.
Add on the airlock, a lid, or tie on a tea towel.
Store this mixture in a room temperature spot, out of direct sunlight for about 2-3 weeks, gently shaking or stirring it daily. This is the time when alcohol is made and your mixture will start to froth and bubble (the yeasts are converting the sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide.)
Place a towel under your containers to soak up any spillage as the mixture may bubble over the top.
Once your batch shows no more signs of activity and the bubbling has stopped, the apple pieces can be strained out and the liquid can be poured back into the same container.
Turning apple cider into vinegar
Now the alcoholic cider (hard cider) needs to become vinegar. It is at this stage that acetic acid bacteria get involved and they turn the alcohol into vinegar.
For this step, remove the airlock if you’re using one, or remove the lid. Acetic bacteria need to be able to reach the brew, so cover it with a dish towel or cloth instead.
You can speed this up by adding some store-bought apple cider vinegar into the batch that comes with these live bacteria. This will be marketed as apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’. The mother is a collection of acetic bacteria. This is not a crucial step though, you can let it ferment without this head start.
Place your apple cider back in the room temperature spot out of sunlight, covered with a tea towel for approximately 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, you can start to taste it. It can ferment for as long as you want, it will just get more acidic over time. Once it tastes to your liking you can bottle it.
A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) may occasionally form on top of your vinegar. This is just all the good bacteria combined in this squidgy little disc. This is very similar to a ‘mother’. The next time you make your apple cider vinegar, using a few tablespoons of your homemade batch will speed up the next batch’s fermentation process.
How long can vinegar last?
Vinegar can last a very long time, a year or even longer, as the high acid content means it’s self-preserving. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Other Homemade Fruit Vinegar Ideas
The good news is you can use this process with other fruits too! If you’ve got an abundance of pears, berries, or plums, give it a go!
Along with apple foraging each year, we also go blackberry foraging and homemade blackberry vinegar works a treat! I don’t use a weight to hold the blackberries down because they are so soft and fall apart easily. For a fruit vinegar such as this, just gently shaking the brew a few times daily is best.
Along with apple foraging each year, we also go blackberry foraging and homemade blackberry vinegar works a treat! I don’t use a weight to hold the blackberries down because they are so soft and fall apart quickly. For a fruit vinegar such as this, gently shaking the brew a few times daily is best.
- Organic or spray free apple pieces, Or berries, plums, pears...
- Filtered Water
- Combine your apple pieces in a clean glass jar, filling about 1/2- 3/4 of the jar. Measure out enough water to fill the jar and add 10% sugar. Pour this into the jar over the fruit, leaving at least 2cm headspace.
- (Optional) Use a sterilized glass fermenting weight to hold down the apple pieces and keep the pieces submerged under the water.
- Screw an airlock onto the jar. This allows the fermentation gases to escape but lessens the chances of bad bacteria getting in.
- If you don’t have an airlock, a lid can be screwed on and released daily to release the gases. Alternatively, use a tea towel secured with a rubber band.
- Store this mixture at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for about two weeks, gently shaking or stirring it daily. If you don't have a weight to hold down the fruit, gently shake it 2-3 times daily instead of just once.
- This is when alcohol is made, and your mixture will start to froth and bubble (the yeasts convert the sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide). You can place a towel under your containers to soak up any spillage since the mixture may bubble over the top.
- After around two to three weeks, check that your batch shows no more signs of fermentation. Once your batch shows no more signs of activity and the bubbling has stopped, the apple pieces can be strained out, and the liquid can be poured back into the same container.
- Remove the airlock or lid if you use one for this next stage. Acetic bacteria need to be able to reach the brew to make vinegar, so cover it with a tea towel instead.
- Place your apple cider back in the room temperature spot out of sunlight, covered with a tea towel for approximately four weeks.
- After four weeks, you can start to taste it. It can ferment for as long as you want; it will just get more acidic over time. Once it tastes to your liking, you can bottle it.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 25 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 12Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g