I think fermentation is just about the coolest thing ever. I know this makes me a complete nerd, but seriously… how amazing is it that one day you can have apples sitting in a bit of sugar water and the next day (or rather, about 6 weeks later 😉 ) it’s apple cider vinegar?!
Apple cider vinegar has a ton of amazing uses – everything from adding flavor to dishes to cleaning to restoring pH balance on skin.
With apple season upon us, there’s no time like the present to start making apple cider vinegar! Let’s get to it!
A few things to know…
- Although fermentation involves bacteria, it’s important to make sure that all of your equipment and supplies are clean. Make sure you sterilize your jar and any equipment with hot soapy water so you don’t introduce “bad” bacteria into the mix.
- Fruit flies looooove ACV. I could not believe the mass that descended upon my kitchen when I began making vinegar. Like, whoa. For this reason, make sure your cheesecloth is secured firmly on the jar at all times.
- You will need to use sugar in this recipe because it acts as food for the bacteria. I used coconut sugar because that was what I had on hand and I often get asked if honey can be used. Since honey contains antibacterial properties, I wouldn’t recommend this because it works against the fermentation process and can cause it to take longer. The thing to know about the sugar is that because it’s acting as food for the bacteria, most of it is used up by the time it becomes vinegar and since you wouldn’t be drinking this vinegar straight, there shouldn’t be any concerns about the impact on blood sugar.
- You don’t have to use whole apples for this! I was pretty lucky and got a giant box of apples from my mom’s tree so that’s what I used as the base for this vinegar, but you can always use scraps instead. This is particularly handy if you like making applesauce and have a bunch of peels and cores leftover. Note: I would highly recommend using organic apples so you aren’t adding pesticides and chemicals into your vinegar. You can use any variety of apples to make this vinegar.
- Although it’s fine to use scraps or slightly bruised/browned apples, you don’t want to use moldy or rotten fruit as this would introduce harmful bacteria into the fermentation process.
- And, on that note, if at any point your vinegar develops mold, or if you question if it’s safe to consume, compost it and start over. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Organic apples or apple scraps
- Organic coconut sugar or cane sugar
- Filtered Water
- Clean glass jar (you can use any size, but I used a gallon fermentation jar)
- Small glass to weigh the vinegar down
How to make Apple Cider Vinegar:
Chop whole apples or gather apple scraps. Fill your jar almost to the top with the apples (if possible, try to leave a couple of inches of room at the top).
Next, you’ll want to make your sugar water base. Start by mixing 1 teaspoon of sugar with 1 cup of water and pouring this over the apples. Depending on the size of your jar (especially if you used a large gallon jar like me), you’ll need to mix more sugar water together using this same ratio. Continue adding sugar water until it comes just about an inch from the top of the jar.
Cover the jar with your cheesecloth and secure the rubber band around the top.
Note: If your apples keep floating up and aren’t staying submerged in the water, use a small glass (depending on the size of your jar) to sit on top and help weigh them down. (See the picture below.) This ensures that the apples won’t be exposed to air for long periods of time and develop mold. You can use a larger piece of cheesecloth to drape over the entire glass and secure the rubber band around it (to ensure fruit flies won’t get in).
Leave the jar in a warm place for about 2 weeks. You should begin to see small white bubbles forming at the top. This is a good sign that fermentation is happening!
Once two weeks have passed, strain out the apples and add the strained liquid back to the jar to sit for another 3 – 4 weeks, stirring with a clean utensil every couple of days.
You’ll know your vinegar is ready when it has a tangy vinegary smell and taste. When it’s ready, simply cap the vinegar and store it. The awesome thing about vinegar is that it won’t go bad!
Note: if your vinegar develops a blob, this is simply the vinegar “mother.” If desired, you can use this in future batches, but I usually keep it in the vinegar when it’s stored.
Congrats, you just made apple cider vinegar!8