Sep 042011
 

It’s apple harvesting time. You may be wondering what else you can do with nature’s bounty after the pies, chutneys, jellies and the like. While going through Sandor Katz’s book I mentioned in Fermenting Revolution 1 I saw home made vinegars.

Bottled apple cider vinegar

And I’ve found that making vinegar really is very simple and the result is truly delicious.

What you do is to allow the chopped fruit to steep and then ferment in some sugar solution. With apples this makes cider. Then, with only a little luck, airborne acetobacter (bacteria that makes vinegar) will populate the cider and convert the alcohol into acetic acid. That’s it.

Want to know more? Then read on…

Apple cider vinegar recipe

The apple quantities are very approximate. The more you use for each litre of liquid the stronger the flavour.

You’ll need a container with a wide mouth to make this in. A bowl or fermenting bucket is fine. You can buy special vinegar making containers if you wish. What is important is that you maximise the surface area exposed to the air. This makes it easier for the acetobacter to colonise the juice.

I’ll give you quantities for about 1 litre of vinegar, just pro rata them for what you have to hand.

Ingredients

6-12 apples, windfalls and damaged apples are brilliant for this. It uses them up and the damage is more likely to be colonised by natural yeasts and useful bacteria. Wash them if they are muddy dirty.

1 litre of water

100g of sugar (I use normal white granulated)

Method

Chop the apples roughly into 2-3cm pieces into your container. Use the skin, cores, pips, everything.

Dissolve the sugar in the water. I use some heat to do this. Allow the sugar solution to cool to about room temperature, if it’s too hot you could kill your natural yeasts.

Pour the sugar solution over the apples and give it a good stir. Weight the apples down with a plate, bowl or something else to keep them in the solution.

Cover the container with muslin or a clean tea towel secured with an elastic band. This will keep dust and bugs out, while the acetobacter will be able to pass between the weave. Leave the container in a warm place.

Monitor daily and give a stir. Very quickly you’ll notice bubbles which is the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation. The apples will start to smell like cider.

Apples fermenting in sugar solution

Apple vinegar just before straining, the film is 'Mother of Vinegar'

After 7-10 days the apples will have done their work and you can strain them off the solution with a sieve or colander. Put the solution back in to your container and cover.At this point start tasting. You should notice the rough cider flavour being transformed into an acid one. Leave for 7-14 days until you are happy with the flavour.Strain again and then pour into sterilised bottles and seal. If you want, keep the film that appears on the top of the vinegar. This is ‘Mother of Vinegar’ which you can use to start another batch without needing to resort to chance colonisation by acetobacter.I’m so taken by my first batch above that I’ve now got another 5 litres on the go. I also had some bananas that were well past their prime so I decided to make 2 litres of vinegar with those.

Bananas fermenting

Bananas fermenting 1 day after starting

I’ll report back on progress. If you have a go, let me know how you get on in the comments below.

  29 Responses to “Fermenting Revolution 2 – Apple cider vinegar”

  1. Just strained off the apples. Looking and smelling good so far.

  2. […] Apple cider vinegar A doddle to make, very healthy for you and lots of fun. You can use damaged apples, or scraps. So this is a great way of using every apple you have. […]

  3. My cider vinegar is fermenting like mad. Im hoping for about 5% acetic acid so I can use it for chutney next year.

    • Hi Simon

      Sounds like that’s going very well – they do get off to a roaring start.

      Be cautious using home made vinegar for chutneys. As you rightly say, you need a mimimum of 5% acetic acid. To make sure that you’ve achieved this, you’d need to titrate the vinegar carefully using an alkali and an indicator; or use some professsional testing kit. There are titration instructions on the internet.

      Hope that’s a help and good luck with the ferment :)

      Cheers
      Carl

  4. [...] own vinegar you can experiment with different flavours. Last year I showed you how to make your own apple cider vinegar. This year, I experimented to see if I could use the same principles to make some blackberry and [...]

  5. [...] apple season was also in full swing, and I was having fun making my own cider vinegar following Carl Legge’s recipe. Could both of these forces somehow combine for the greater [...]

  6. I’m been nudged into doing this by the lovely @zeb_bakes – may I ask for the link about testing acidity levels please? (It’s me, you know how this sort of thing fascinates me and it will help me with various decisions about how to use the vinegar.)

    • Hi EM (and @ZebBakes)

      The most reliable way to do it is via titration.

      You take a sample of the vinegar, add a universal indicator liquid to it and then gradually add a know concentration of alkali/base to it gradually. When the indicator liquid shows the solution is neutralised you can calculate the percentage of acid in the vinegar by how much alkali/base you needed.

      You can buy kits to perform this text from home brew shops and online for about £5 :)

      The amount of acid will depend on the initial sugar concentration of the liquid, how effectively this was converted to alcohol and how much of this is converted to acid by the acetobacter. It’s one reason why being patient with the ‘brew’ pays off. Some people who’ve rushed the process have found the vinegar ‘goes off’ because the acid concentration was not high enough to be hostile to other bacteria.

      Hope that helps. I would be interested to hear what results you get.

  7. I’m having a go at this with apples. Will let you know how it goes! How is the banana mixture?

  8. [...] Miskmask’s Vinegar Diaries now on Day 30. and also the guy who kickstarted us all making it, Carl Legge whose blog is looking very smart, all kitted out in its new [...]

  9. It's 'M' time on the blog it would appear…

    Hi Mitch, once the acetobacter start to do their job, they will gradually covert the alcohol to acid. So it should get progressively more acid until the alcohol is used up. Gloria Nicol has sent me a link to how to test acid levels, but I think it's too complex for home use.

    Banana going good, still fermenting. I'll post some pictures soon. Some pretty yeast patterns :)

    Hi Marieke, having so much fun experimenting with this. Will rack the honey wine shortly, really looking forward to that. Do have a go, it's your sort of thing. You can come up with all orts of interesting combinations.

    Hi Misk, a great use for the windfalls. Do let me know how it goes.

    • Hi Carl,
      Monica mentioned the other day that her vinegar had the ‘feet smell’ about it. Mine has that same edge today. I cautiously stuck my tongue into a shallow spoonful, and no question that it’s no longer cider but full-fledged vinegar. So now I’m wondering if giving this a few more days to acidify will push it past the feet stage, or if I should filter and bottle it now? We’re at day 29 on batch #1. Should I give it a boil to kill off any bacteria that could bother our tums? I’ll welcome any advice you can offer. :)

      • Hi Misk

        I’ll have to wait to the end of next month to find out how aromatic Monica’s feet are ;) Until then it’s a bit difficult to know whether the smell is good or bad.

        So let me deal with the principles. ‘Live’ vinegar is meant to be health giving because of the bacteria. I don’t seriously think that the risk of any harmful substance surviving in the acid conditions is material. I’d be happy to learn that I’m wrong: all knowledge is friendly. If the acetobacter are working to convert the alcohol to acid, then leaving things longer will not harm at all. If there’s alcohol to convert it will go to acid, if there’s no alcohol left, there will be no change.

        When making wine vinegar in casks, the vinegar is drawn off the bottom of the cask using a tap & spile. More ‘fresh’ wine is put in the top and is converted gradually by the mother. The vinegar stays in the cask for a considerable time and could be stored this way for a considerable period.

        However, if you’re at all nervous about this, the vinegar can be filtered and pasteurised using either a hot water bath or in the oven. Obviously, you could also boil the vinegar itself. Both methods will affect the alleged health giving benefits of the vinegar as it will no longer be ‘live’. It may also alter the taste.

        You could experiment and do some one way and the rest another. Really what I’m trying to do here is encourage people to have a go within limits they feel comfortable with. I’ve done quite a lot of research and have not come across any nasty stories of toxic vinegar. As long as we use common sense and our senses of look, smell, taste, I think we’ll all be fine.

        I hope that’s a help.

        Carl x

        • It absolutely does help, yes. Thank you, Carl. I think boiling might be ‘over-kill’ so perhaps trying one filtered and the other not is the way to go. Several things are for sure: we have acidity and we have a healthy MOV growing. I’m inclined to let this go a while longer and see if the aroma changes.

          Thanks again. :)

          Misk x

  10. I returned home from hols to find the ground covered with windfall Cox apples, so I'm putting this cider vinegar creation of yours on my pull-up-your-sock-and-give-it-a-try list. Can't wait to try my hand at this! :D

  11. So great all this fermenting stuff that you are doing. Really inspirational. Got my eye on the apple cider vinegar!

  12. Also, how are your bananas?

  13. Would anyone have tips for vinegar-tasting? Mine tastes just delicious when compared to bought apple cider vinegar (which feels as though it dissolves a layer of cells from my mouth). My home-made I began 2 weeks ago, it is fruity and juicy and sweet and rounded and only a little bit vinegary. But is it vinegar?
    Love Mitch

  14. Nearly ready to strain the apples off I think Carl, then for the tasting bit. Have never really thought about vinegar before.

  15. Hi Carl, vinegar is now sitting in the downstairs loo as it's the warmest room in the house with the boiler! I seem to have made 2 litres!Thanks for the recipe and I'll let you know how I get on. or not. x

  16. Hi Mo

    Would like to know how that goes. I willing to bet that 'accidental' vinegar was how it was discovered :)

    Carl

  17. I might try the Apple for our chickens… having said that I have made cider vinegar by mistake in the past, well, cider that tasted like vinegar! ;) Mo

  18. LOL Joanna

    I think the blog is on google time somewhere in the USA. Not v helpful. I will transfer over to the 'other side' soon.

    C x

  19. Hi Joanna

    Somewhere from 18-25C. It'll work at colder, but be slower and will run fast at higher. But a consistent warm in that range is good.

    Let me know how you get on :)

    Cheers
    Carl

  20. Well it's morning here in England 08 40. What time zone are you in Wales, surely not so many hours behind ? My comment says 00 39 ? (wink)

  21. Morning Carl! When you say 'leave in a warm place' what sort of temperature range would you suggest ? It sounds very interesting, surrounded as I am by people giving me apples as well as those from my little tree….. :)

  22. Hi Cat

    Yes indeed. Pineapple peel is one of the recipes in that section of Sandor's book. But I rarely buy pineapple :)

    But would certainly be a good flavour.

    Appreciate you popping by.

    Cheers
    Carl

  23. I've heard of good reports of vinegar made from pineapple peels. Might be worth a go.

Please let me know what you think, thanks :)

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