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