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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Make your own Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar


Did you know that you can make your own apple cider vinegar pretty easily and very inexpensively,with just some apple peels and cores and water...and a bit of patience? I didn't know either until I started doing a bit of research.


We use lots of apple cider vinegar on our farm for its wide array of health benefits for us and for our chickens. I consider it one of the 'Holistic Trinity' of chicken keeping and vital to my and my husband's health, as well as a key ingredient in any good Pie Crust! [As the vinegar evaporates during baking it pushes the layers of crust apart to result in a super flaky crust]




Adding apple cider vinegar to our chickens' water a few times a week not only makes the water more appealing to them, it also keeps the waterers cleaner and controls the bacteria both in the water and in the hens' digestive system. The vinegar boosts good bacteria and is thought to also even combat coccidia, which is present in most chicken runs, no matter how fastidiously they are cleaned. [Read here for more on how we use ACV with our chickens...]

Apple cider vinegar with the 'mother' in it, such as Bragg's, is raw and unpasteurized and has the most benefits. The mother is basically a yeast/live bacteria natural concoction that helps balance bacteria in the intestines of humans AND chickens. However, it's not cheap and we go through quite a lot of it, so I started researching how to make my own.



There are tons of blog posts and articles about making your own apple cider vinegar. I looked for the cheapest, easiest way I could find that seemed to yield good results on a consistent basis. Mother Earth News published an article that was the most straightforward of any I read and sure enough, it's not only easy, but you only need apples and water (sugar is optional, although the fruit sugars will suffice)....and some canning jars and cheesecloth. No special kits or ingredients.

So the next time you bake an apple pie, save the peels and cores and make a batch of apple cider vinegar for yourself.


Here's how to do it:

Wash, peel and core 5-10 (preferably organic) apples. Another nice thing is that there's no set amount, you can make as much or as little as you want.


Place the peels and cores in a large glass or stoneware bowl and cover with water by an inch or so. (Optional to help the fermentation/yeast process work faster - add 1/4 Cup of sugar for each quart of water you used and stir to mix thoroughly.)





Cover the bowl with a heavy plate. The apple scraps need to be completely submersed in the water. Cover the whole thing with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for a week in a cool dark location. Between 65-85 degrees is a good fermentation temperature range, and be sure to keep it in a dark place, because UV light destroys the fermentation process.


The mixture will begin to bubble and foam as yeast forms. That's normal and in fact by Day 3, I had bubbling!

When the week is up, spoon off any black mold that has grown. That's also okay and will occur if the mixture isn't kept cool enough, but if you keep the bowl in a cool spot you shouldn't have any mold.




Strain out the apple solids and pour the liquid into sterilized canning jars, leaving about an inch of head room and discard the solids. Cover each canning jar with a square of doubled cheesecloth and screw just the ring part of the top on. (Hang onto the flat parts of the lids, you'll need them later) This allows the yeast to 'breathe' and prevents the metal from corroding.




Store the jars on a shelf in your pantry and wait about six weeks. A film should start forming on the top. The is the 'mother'. You can open up the jars and stir or swirl them so the mother settles on the bottom and more will grow on top. (This photo shows how it should look after about two weeks)





Here's how it looks at just about a month. Definite 'mother' growing on top there!



At about a month, the liquid is cloudy but still fairly light without a distinct 'vinegar' smell.



And around six weeks, the color has deepened and there is some residue settling on the bottom.






After six weeks, replace the cheesecloth with the flat part of the lid and screw the ring back on. There is a distinct 'vinegar' smell now and jellyfish-like masses floating in the jar.



Stored in a cool, dark place, the apple cider vinegar will last indefinitely. By this point the yeast will have eaten all the available sugars and you will be left with a 'shelf-stable' vinegar. The flavor will develop and evolve over time.

Note: If you save some of the mother from each batch and add it to the next batch, the vinegar will be finished more quickly. It's been hard waiting the six weeks for my first batch, but I have several batches started now that will finish at the end of consecutive weeks, so I will always have a batch of homemade apple cider vinegar ready going forward.





BECAUSE LIFE IS JUST BETTER WITH CHICKENS!


I would love for you to join me here...


75 comments:

  1. Great post. I think I may give this a try.

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  2. Replies
    1. can you use honey instead of sugar?

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    2. I am sure you could. You can also skip a sweetener all together and let the fruit sugars work, but the sugar (or honey) speeds up the process.

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  3. This is surely on my list of new things to try. Thanks.

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  4. I don't add sugar to my apples... what is the reason for the sugar?

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    1. Although the apples do contain some fruit sugar, I think the added sugar helps the fermentation process along. The sugar is converted into alcohol which then turns to vinegar.

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  5. this is great! Ill definitely have to try a batch! I would love it if you would share the post on my Natural Living Monday linky party!
    http://www.naturallivingmamma.com/2012/09/23/natural-living-monday-3/

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  6. In a couple of weeks we are getting apples to make apple sauce. I cannot wait to make apple cider vinegar. We go through a lot every year too.

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    1. I was at a pie making class today. They let my daughter and I bring home the apple cores. So I started today. I cannot wait to see my apple cider vinegar.

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  7. Well, shoot. I just made apple pie and tossed the peels and cores into the yard waste. Who knew? GREAT tutorial!

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    1. I know right Debby! Usually I feed the apple scraps to our horses, but they are going to have to start sharing!

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  8. Thanks for your visit at my place :) I really like what you have done here and will be looking forward to future posts. My daughter started making apple cider vinegar but it looked scary… I will have her read this post :) Have a wonderful week! ~ JES

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  9. Thank you so much for this post! We go through quite a bit of ACV, too. I'll definitely have to try this.

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  10. Thanks so much for this. I'm a new follower. I just gathered some apples from the trees and planned on making some apple cake. Now the peels won't go to waste either! :)

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  11. I normally process my apple scraps into pectin, but I was looking at organic apple cider vinegar this weekend and couldn't bring myself to pay what they were asking. I'm definitely going to have to try this.

    Katie @ Horrific Knits

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  12. Can you feed the strained scraps to chickens? I'm making cider right now (though I didn't use sugar and only used most of the bad parts of the apples... I tried to make jelly with the cores but that was a fail b/c I didn't use enough sugar). We don't have chickens yet, but I'm hoping to by the time the cider is ready! *fingers crossed* I have a lot to learn about chicken keeping so thanks for all of your hard work!

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    1. You know, I didn't read anywhere that you could...but I don't see why you couldn't. I just didn't want to recommend it in case it would be bad.

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  13. Thank you! I was just looking at ACV today at the store. It is pricey! My husband eats apples like crazy, so I always have cores. Too bad I didn't read this yesterday as I made apple cinnamon bread and threw the peels and cores into the compost bin.

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    1. That's alright, there's always next time - and at least you composted them. I believe you can continue to add apples during the first week, just cover the initial batch with extra water to anticipate the additions.

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  14. Are you kidding me? Oh my stars, another amazing how-to recipe. I had no idea it was so easy to make apple cider vinegar. It's a must have in my favorite scratch chocolate cake recipe. Thank you SO much!

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  15. Wow! Looks good! When you say 'cover with water by an inch or so.', do you mean cover the apple bits completely PLUS an extra inch? Just want to be sure!

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    1. Sorry, I just saw this - yes, cover the apples completely and then another inch of water.

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  16. If I have acces to a SCOBY from making Kombucha, can I just use that? Do you know of a recipe using a SCOBY? Thank you!

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  17. Thank you for visiting A COZY PLACE CALLED HOME. This is an interesting subject. Thanks for sharing.------- Shannon

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  18. Could you post all the ways you use it? How much do you add to the chickens water and how often?

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    1. Here you go, here's some information about ACV. http://fresh-eggs-daily.blogspot.com/2012/01/holistic-trinity-acv-garlic-and-de.html

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  19. Thanks for sharing this! I'd also love to hear more about how you use it in your life and for the chickens.

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    1. Here's how I sue it with the chickens and I also use it in pie crusts and salad dressings. http://fresh-eggs-daily.blogspot.com/2012/01/holistic-trinity-acv-garlic-and-de.html

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  20. This is fabulous because I can't find apple cider vinegar with mother anywhere locally and I can't justify the expense of traveling to a larger town or ordering it! I have a huge box of apples ready for use in things!

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  21. I think this is the coolest idea ever! I can't wait to try it, Thanks you so much, you're going to save me a fortune on vinegar:)

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  22. I have been wanting to try this myself. I am also acv obsessed and go through a lot of the bragg's acv. Great tutorial - Thanks :)

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  23. I can't wait to try this! One question: If I were to add mother to a new batch to speed it up, at which step would I do this?

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    1. You would add the mother right from the start, pour a bit of your last batch into the bowl then add the water and apples for the new batch.

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  24. I made pineapple vinegar last summer. You can use any fruit scrapes, any or no sweetner and it's not scary. Bad bugs can't grow in fermented food. There are several great books on fermenting, great way to get started. Anything that grows on the top? Scrape it off and keep going. Once it's vinegar you can pasturize if you'd like but that kills the mother.

    Just have patience - temp will effect how fast the process goes and NEVER let metal touch the vinegar. It can change the taste. And you were going to throw the scapes out anyway so there is nothing to lose. Consider it a science experiece - it's fun. And mine tasted of pineapple. Yum.

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    1. Oh neat...I will have to try it with other scraps too. Thank you!

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  25. I have a silly question. What about the apple seeds, should they be removed before making the cider? I have read they contain small amounts of cyanide.

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    1. No, there are no silly questions! Apple seeds do contain trace amounts of cyanide, but since the peels are cores are tossed out after the first week, it's not a problem. The seeds are left intact in the cores so the cyanide stays safely inside the seeds.

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  26. Where do you store this in the bowl and then jars before the hard cover goes on? My husband is already not happy with the fruit flies in my home from my canning adventures this summer and fall. If I put it in my dark cupboard is it going to attract hoards of fruit flies? My garage might be too cool at night. I have always seen those apple cider vinegar fruit fly traps so immediately this came to mind. I really LOVE this idea and can't wait to try it :)

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  27. i love it! we are going apple picking, i think i will give this a try. thank you!

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  28. I can tell you how excited I am to try this! Thanks again for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

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  29. I had NO idea! ANd I make a lot of wacky stuff from scratch! :-) Pinning. Thanks for sharing at Iron Chef Mom -- hope you win!

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  30. What a great recipe! Thanks so much for entering this last week in the Iron Chef Mom link-up/contest for Apples on Cheerios and Lattes! We look forward to your chocolate recipes this week! :)
    Mackenzie from the Iron Chef Mom Team :)

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  31. Does anyone know if you add the mother from a bottle of organic non-pasteurized ACV to a bottle of pasteurized ACV will the mother grow?

    Thanks.

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    1. Don't know about that but if you add a bit to your first batch of my recipe, it will be done faster.

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  32. How long after the you put on the solid lid can you expect the flavor would be nice enough for people to want to drink it? ACV is heathly for people too. My grandmother took a spoonful of ACV and honey every day. Is it more healthy with the mother?

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    1. Not sure since mine is only about a month old, so I'm planning on leaving it another two weeks at least. It is far more healthy with the mother. That has all the good stuff.

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  33. I tried this and need major help! My week has passed and I am ready to drain the apple scraps. However the "vinegar" is the consistency of egg whites. Where o where did I go wrong?? Also the color is a lot clearer than on your post.

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    1. Really? That doesn't sound right. Did you keep it in a fairly dark cool place? I would still strain and jar it up. I am thinking different types of apples will look different because mine is alot more pink than what I saw in the pictures online that I looked at when I researched it.

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    2. I did jar it up, but am so stumped as to why the egg white consistency! (It's a little gross:)) I had it in a cool place and put a dish towel over the bowls to shield from the light. I'll try again and see what happens. Thanks for replying!

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    3. If I had to guess I would say it was fruit pectin..keep me posted on how it turns out.

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  34. So my first attempt at this is in it's 6 week waiting period right now...I decided to open a jar up to see how it was doing (I'm about 2 1/2 weeks in), only to discover that fruit flies somehow made it through the cheesecloth in to the vinegar itself, and it appears as though they have laid eggs. Am I right to assume I need to toss it? I'm so sad!

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    1. Oh no....ick. I would toss it. Fruit flies definitely are attracted to the sweetness. Try again and try doubling or tripling the layer of cheesecloth. You want air to flow, so you don't really want to put it in an airtight cabinet or anything, but a few layers of cheesecloth might help. Sorry!

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  35. Thanks for sharing this! I bagged and froze all my peels and cores from canning to give to the chickens over winter. Guess they'll have to share! :-)

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  36. This is so cool! I use alot of ACV too for conditioner, GF breads, sauces, etc and I'm so excited to try this. I'ma gonna start saving my apple peels!

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday :)

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  37. This might be a silly question too, but, is there a reason that you don't use the entire apple? I mean why just the peels and cores? I just started a batch today and I used the entire apple. I guess we will see right?
    Thanks for posting this, I like to make as much of my own "stuff" as possible.

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  38. Can you throw the peels and cores to the chickens (after the fermentation process)

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  39. My mother has a lot of mold on it. It has been about 2 1/2 weeks. Is that okay or should I start over? At the end of the fermentation process I had a little bit of mold on the top. I removed the mold and strained it, put it in jars with cheesecloth on top. It is in a cool dark pantry. Not sure if I should dump it and start all over or what. Any suggestions?

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    1. Everything I have read says just scrape the mold off and keep going. I was fortunate not to see any. But its a judgement call I guess.

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  40. How about using a coffee filter with a rubber band around it - the fruit flies would not get through that. Also, for dairy farmers, you could use a milk filter!
    let me tell you about my experiences using ACV medicinally! It was nearly miraculous in overnight curing a very serious problem for me: I had developed a terrible allergy to something - probably my cat, and I wasn't about to get rid of him, but didn't want to take drugs for the problem. After about three months of this situation that was nearly choking me at times, someone suggested I start taking 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and a little honey in about a 6 ounce glass of cool water every day. She'd been doing it for years. I desperately tried it - and the problem was entirely gone the next morning! No kidding! It was miraculous! I continue to take it daily, and the problem has never come back - except one time when I forgot to for a couple days - and I began that coughing again. The first time I used it, all I had on hand was regular Heinz A. C. Vinegar, but it worked just fine! Now I get the natural and completely organic kind, of course.

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  41. Thanks for posting this. I didn't have quite that many apples -only 2 large organic-, so I am trying it with what I have, cut the sugar down for the reduced amount of H2O, and put it in a large Corningware serving bowl with the plate on top, with a jar filled with water to weight it down. Finding a dark spot was tough, because my closets leak plenty of light under the doors. At first I wanted to lower the bowl into my stoneware pickling crock and cover it with a heavy dark-colored towel, but there wasn't enough clearance. I finally hit upon turning my medium-sized crock upside-down over the apple bowl sitting on my kitchen counter. Do you think that will be dark enough, or would the reduced quantity pose any problems?

    I use quite a bit of the Bragg vinegar, and was thrilled to see this post. All the apple trimmings that I've composted, or fed to chooks and goats over the years.... I have to use Heinz cider vinegar for the chooks and cleaning, because the Bragg's is too dear for any large volume usage. I did want to mention for those vinegar and honey drinkers, if you have a blood sugar or metabolic-X problem, you might want to take your honey and vinegar in 8oz of water, mixed with an additional tablespoon of powdered fiber, kind of like the orange Metamucil - I use the cheaper WalMart fiber therapy stuff. I've found that taking that prior to a meal helps even out spikes in my blood sugar, especially if I plan on eating higher glycemic carbs. (Please note that I don't use honey in my mix, not sure what that would do to blood sugar levels.)

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  42. how long does it take from start to finish? the instructions are a bit confusing:"At about a month, the liquid is cloudy but still fairly light without a distinct 'vinegar' smell" then directly below/beside: "At a month, the color has deepened and there is some residue settling on the bottom" So is it: sit in glass bowl for 1 week, strain and into jars with cheesecloth lids for 6 weeks (stirring at 3 week, optional)replace cheesecloth lids with solid weeks & keep indefinitely

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    1. Not sure exactly what you're asking. After a week strain and cover with the cheesecloth. Let it sit that way for about six weeks during which time it will steadily deepen in color but still smell like vinegar, get residue, etc. Lots going on in there! I was just showing how at a month there are changes but its clearly not 'done' yet. Then after 6 weeks replace the cheesecloth with the metal ring.

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  43. I juice 6 apples per day..Can i make ACV from the scraps left behind in my juicer? Thank you for any reply...

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  44. How much quicker is it when you add the mother? Is there a mother in Bragg's ACV that I'd be able to add to my first batch? I have some of it in the house.

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    1. Yes there is the mother in Braggs. I have never actually tried to speed it up because I always forget to save some of my last batch! If you do try it, let me know how long it takes?

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  45. what I do, is add some spent fruit to a jar of vinegar that already has mother in it, usually braggs, and wait about a week or less, and a big giant mother forms on top. then I take that mother and add it to my water/apple mixture, mand it really speeds stuff up. I like to grow large mothers in a jar of braggs, because it forms so quickly, and I give the mothers to friends, and put them In corked wines, and fruit juices that I squeeze myself, and have all sorts of little vinegars going. I often add herbs and berries, such as yarrow, nettles, and elderberries to my vinegars because it draws the healing properties of those things into the vinegar, which I drink daily, and sneak Into my family's diet. I also give these vinegars to my quail, cat, and dogs In their water periodically. just a little splash when I remember. I have even, as an expiriment, filled a jar of washed and baked eggshells (quail) with vinegar, and left it for two weeks, strained the remains of the shells out, and used the vinegar as a calcium supplement? I have no idea if it worked....but I believe it should. maybe I am crazy.

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  46. another note is that adding some braggs, or a good chunk of mother to your batch really discourages mold growth, though it depends on the ratios of course.

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