Making Apple Cider Vinegar

apple-cider-vinegar-must
Apple cider vinegar must starter

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has a long history (dating back at least to the ancient Greeks) as a folk remedy for treating everything from dandruff, to obesity, to heart disease, and possibly even cancer. These remedies are linked to the “mother” present in traditional, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Mother is a complex of strands of proteins, enzymes, and “good” bacteria that give the product a murky, cobweb-like appearance.

One thing’s for sure, ACV is delicious in many recipes and it’s essential (along with other vinegars) to homesteaders for home canning, particularly for pickling. It has an added bonus of being easy (and cheap) to make.

Last Saturday I decided to try my hand at making a batch. Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. of apples
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 tbsp. of sugar

Equipment:

  • 1/2 gallon pickle jar
  • 2 measuring cups
  • Wooden spoon
  • 1-pint Mason jar (to use as a stopper)
  • Paper towel
  • Rubber band
  • 3-quart pot for boiling water
  • 6-quart pot for sterilizing equipment
apple-cider-vinegar-ingredients
Apple cider vinegar ingredients and equipment

I sterilized the pickle jar with bleach the night before and left it upside down in the dish rack for 24 hours to air-dry. After about 12 hours, or so, the bleach smell was completely gone.

I started by putting the water on the stove top to boil for ten minutes then I went out to my side yard to pick the apples from an early harvest Lodi tree that grows there. When I got back I turned-off the boiling water and started boiling more water to sterilize my stopper jar and wooden spoon, I let them boil for ten minutes too.

Then I cleaned the apples and quartered them. As I cut them I pulled the stems off, but kept everything else (cores, peels, seeds, etc.) and added them to the pickle jar. As a side note, I’ve also heard that just stems and peels can be used for this process if you want to recycle them from an apple pie filling or apple sauce making venture.

After the water had cooled sufficiently, I mixed the sugar into it and added the mixture to the pickle jar until it just covered the apples. Then I placed the 1-pint stopper jar on top to keep the apples below the water line (this is very important, if the apples are exposed to the air, the wrong type of bacteria will develop and destroy the batch). I then covered the whole thing with a paper towel (a cheesecloth could be used) to let the mixture breath but keep bugs and microbes out. Finally, I placed the whole thing in my food pantry (any warm dark space will work).

The process can take up to three months to complete, but in three weeks I’ll have to strain the apple chunks out of it. I’ll update its progress then.

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