Organic Apple Cider Vinegar in 5 Easy Steps
Why Apple Cider Vinegar?
Well, it's a bit more difficult to make vinegar from grapes at home. With that hilarious jest aside, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) is cheap to make. Chances are that you already have everything you need. In that case, making ACV will cost you nothing but a little patience. Additionally, this distinctive liquid, with its tart aroma and orange shade, is said to have a whole range of health benefits.
As with any home remedy, I suggest that you do your research and not replace any chronic medication with a new 'cure.' Some natural remedies make superb complimentary treatments, but they cannot replace conventional medicine for more serious conditions.
That being said, ACV is great addition to meals, especially as a salad dressing or to liven up those french fries. This vinegar is not loved by all, but to its fans, ACV is almost a superstar. But the price tag can be expensive, especially when sold in glass bottles—which is the correct way to keep ACV. Making your own can provide a cheap or free supply of this fantastic vinegar.
Step 1: Grab Those Ingredients
The requirements for this ACV recipe is so user-friendly that you probably have most (or everything) it calls for. Remember, there are no specific measurements here and not without reason. You'll see in a moment why.
The physical tools include:
- A glass jar or jars
- A good knife
- Clean surface
- Coffee mug
- Cheesecloth (or any other porous cloth)
- Something to tie with, a rubber band or string
The ingredients are:
- Sugar (or honey)
- Distilled water
Cut the Apples
Step 2: Prepare The Apples
Before you prepare the apples, make sure the surface and jar is spanking clean. Your hands too. I've had unfortunate incidents where I missed something, like crumbs or a sliver of thin onion on my kitchen counter which ended up in my jar. For this reason, I wipe a big plate to use as a cutting board. When my OCD is satisfied that the wiping itself did not leave any impurities, I zoom in on the fruit.
Wash them thoroughly. I don't remove the skin but unlike most other recipes, I don't use the core either. Apparently, it's super fine to use cores but my own preference is to use the flesh and skin of the fruit. From experience, I noticed that any variety of apple is fine but the more sour types, like the Granny Smith, might be better. After washing, cut the apple into blocks that would be about the same size as your thumb's tip, just short of the joint. Don't make it too small or thin, otherwise it will eventually turn into a mushy mess. Think chunky blocks. Fill your jar with apple pieces until about half-way full. Never make it less, otherwise your vinegar might turn out too weak. It's fine to add more than half, but again, not too much, or your vinegar yield will be less.
Step 3: Prepare the Water
If you do not have distilled or otherwise filtered water, it could be tempting to use tap water. Please, don't. This recipe calls for organic ACV and tap water contains chemicals, which defeats the purpose. If you are starting with just a single jar, then you don't need a lot of water anyway and a small bottle of distilled water is very affordable.
The next step is to dissolve the sugar (or honey) in your mug of water. Here's why I don't use specific measurements other that one tablespoon of the sweet stuff stirred into each mug used. I grab any glass jar and their varying sizes require different amounts of water. The apples already take up a lot of space, so a small jar usually takes about one cup of water.
Stir until the sugar or honey is completely dissolved and then pour it carefully into the glass container. Watch those apple pieces float! Don't fill the container completely, though. Stop when the water is about two centimeters away from the jar's edge. During the fermentation process, sometimes everything gets pushed upwards. I learned the hard way when an entire shelf in my closet flooded.
Cover the Jar
Step 4: Close the Opening
A traditional jar lid will prevent a successful batch of ACV. In order to turn into vinegar, the brew needs oxygen. Since insects love the scent of fermenting apples and dust is a problem, leaving it completely open is not an option either. Here's where cheesecloth come in handy.
Take the scissors and cut a big enough square to liberally cover the top of your jar. Then, secure it. Again, most other recipes call for a rubber band and maybe that will work for you. I like string with a knot that's easily released, which helps immensely with the final step.
Step 5: Stir Every Day
After the jar is secured, store it somewhere safe, away from direct sunlight and preferably a little humid. My batch sits in my bed room closet and luckily, I live in a very humid area near the coast so no special attention is needed in that regard.
Stir the concoction once a day and check the progress. Here, an easy-to-release knot instead of a tight rubber band makes it more user-friendly, especially when one is rushed for time. Trust me, you're going to be stirring the stuff for weeks, there will be busy days and you'll almost forget! Make a note somewhere to help you remember. The persistence will be greatly rewarded.
What to Expect
Usually, nothing starts happening until the second or third day. By then, bubbles form near the surface and that's great - your apples are starting to ferment. After the first week, the water should be hazy and by the second or third, a solid light yellow. Eventually, it will become dark orange. There's no concrete timeline with ACV's colour changes so don't worry too much if yours changes quicker or slower. The changes happen as the mixture ferments into cider, then a hard vinegar and eventually the finished product.
Note that batches mature the way they want to. Usually, they are done with the first phase after about 2-3 weeks. A surefire sign is when the apples sink to the bottom. Remove the apples and sieve the fluid into a new clean jar. Continue to stir the raw vinegar once a day for an additional 3 - 4 weeks.
Make it Suit Your Tastes
I like mine really zingy while others prefer a milder vinegar. Since this is unfiltered ACV (the best kind), it will continue to ferment for as long as it is in the pantry. If it becomes too sour, dilute with a little distilled water.
Do not be concerned about ACV's cloudy look or the stuff that collects at the bottom. Both are completely normal. On a final note, never store vinegar in a plastic container since it has a way of absorbing the chemicals from such vessels. Continue to keep it away from direct sunshine and it won't hurt to stack your finished ACV in the refrigerator either!
Enjoy this rather addictive project!
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit