Making Raw, Organic from apple cores and peel uses products that would otherwise end up as compost and is so easy I can’t imagine why anyone would pay the 6 dollars plus for the store-bought equivalent. Generally I add sugar to speed things up and ensure there is plenty of fuel for fermentation, so my version is not exactly free, but if you have your own honey you can use that or you can skip sugar altogether if using a high sugar apple variety. Even with the addition of a little shop-bought sugar the price for me is negligible. I use a LOT of , so I always have several batches fermenting in the cupboard at any one time. Every batch is individual and has its own taste depending on the variety of used, length or fermentation, the temperature of ferment etc., which I think makes this homemade even more special.

I have been making vinegar for a long while and always transfer the ‘’ from my original vinegar to subsequent batches. I started this batch from scratch on the 4th May to photograph the entire process for this post and bottled on 17th October. The vinegar had been ready for well over a month however, and the house has been cool, so fermentation was slower than usual.  Making can take anything from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on temperature and how long it takes for the bacteria to enter the jar to form the vinegar. Once you have a ‘mother of vinegar’ from your first batch, subsequent batches take about 6-8 weeks as you are adding the bacteria directly to the mix yourself  rather than relying on chance. The ‘mother of vinegar” looks very much like a Kombucha Scoby, it is a gelatinous plug that forms over the surface of the liquid and is made from a combination of cellulose and acetobacter, the harmless bacteria that is responsible for turning alcohol into acid. It. You can also use the mother to make other forms of vinegar (this will be covered in a follow-up post).

The process involves three stages, first you use wild yeasts from the air to ferment apples, sugar, and water into a weak alcohol (cider). Then acetobacter bacteria convert the alcohol to vinegar. Finally, you filter the vinegar, bottle and leave it for a month to mature. I have outlined below the tried and tested process I have used repeatedly. If you have any questions or anything isn’t clear, please drop me a question in the comments section.

Uses 

I use homemade vinegar as I would store-bought, with the exception that I do not use it for home canning shelf stable pickles or preserves. Strength and pH varies between batches and I have no way of reliably measuring acidity, so in terms of safety it is always better to use store-bought for such projects. Some of my favourite uses for this vinegar include:

  • Salad dressing
  • Facial toner
  • Conditioning hair rinse (makes hair super shiny!)
  • Cleaning my home
  • Drinking and using in vinegar-based drinks such as Switchels
  • Add to pets and livestock feed and use as rinse on the dogs fur

Tips 

  • UV light inhibits the growth of acetobacter so make sure you are fermenting in a dark spot and not on the kitchen counter.
  • Vinegar flies can be a nuisance, but in the first stages if the odd one gets into your jar they actually help the process as they carry acetobacter on their feet and will introduce it into your ferment. If they get through the cheesecloth just filter them out and continue
  • If you don’t have enough peel and core to make a batch, just freeze each time you have some leftover and make the vinegar when you collect enough for a batch
  • Do not stir with metal or store in anything where metal can touch the vinegar as it can react with the acid
  • All forms of sugar work well, granulated, raw, honey, coconut etc.
  • If you already have some organic non-pasteurised apple cider vinegar ‘with mother’ from the store (e.g. Braggs) you can add some of that at Step 5. (see below) to speed things up.
  • This is not an airless ferment (e.g. curtido) it needs plenty of oxygen.  A larger surface area will improve your chances of catching acetic acid bacteria so use a wide mouthed jar if you have one. Never place in a ‘Fido’ (or other airtight jar) as it could lead to explosions.
  • Ensure everything is very clean and free from soap residue as you do not want to introduce bad bacteria to the vinegar
  • Many recipes I have found online suggest stirring the vinegar during the second stage, DO NOT DO THIS. Even if I pick up the jar too vigorously or poke the mother (as I did on my first attempt) the mother will fall to the bottom of the jar. Disturbance does not kill the mother and it may eventually rise back up to the surface, but after sinking it tends to function differently. I have found that if the mother sinks when it is wafer thin, it slows down the entire process. If a thick mother falls to the bottom, a new thick mother builds up very quickly on the surface of the vinegar so is less of a problem.
  • Some recipes suggest squeezing the apples to remove as much liquid as possible, I avoid this as the sediment can start to turn bad with time and can negatively affect the taste of the vinegar as it ages
  • If you don’t disturb the mother at all and it still sinks to the bottom, this is a good indication that most of the alcohol/sugar has been converted to vinegar and that your vinegar is ready. The mother is likely weak from lack of food, but can still be removed to use to kickstart other vinegar batches.
  • Always make sure the ratio of water to apple is no more than 2:1 or you will have a very weak vinegar.
  • Some recipes suggest straining the fruit out when the fruit sinks to the bottom of the jar, this works for me sometimes, but I have had occasions when the fruit refuses to sink! I  rely on the absence of bubbles as an indicator rather than the position of the fruit
  • Vinegar eels are small white nematodes that feed on the mother of vinegar and sometimes form when making homemade vinegar. They are completely harmless and won’t spoil your vinegar, but you wouldn’t want them making an appearance in your salad dressing. They are easily removed by filtering the vinegar before bottling.

How to Make 1 litre of Apple Cider Vinegar

It’s easy to scale the quantities up or down depending on how many apple scraps you have on hand and how much vinegar you want to make. If you process vast quantities of apples of other preserves, you may want to ferment your vinegar in buckets rather than jars, but 2 x quart jars is a good size to start and trial the process.

Equipment

  • 2 x 1-quart jars
  • 2 x Elastic bands or canning rings
  • Sharp knife or peeler
  • Clean cloth, medical gauze, paper towel or coffee filter(for top of jar)
  • Cheesecloth or flour sack material (for straining out apple pieces)
  • Unbleached coffee filter for straining out final sediment and bottling

Ingredients

  • Apple peel and core from Organic apples (enough to fill 2 jars)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Organic Sugar or preferred sweetener (1 tablespoon per cup of water)
  • Water (approximately 1 litre)
  • White vinegar (optional for rinsing jars and removing soap residue)

Methods

Step 1. Clean both jars with hot soapy water. Rinse well, first with cold water, then with white vinegar to ensure there is no dish soap residue. Scrub the apples thoroughly.

Step 2. Peel apples and remove core, you can either use the whole apple for the vinegar or use the flesh to make pies, sauce, juice etc. and just use the scraps. Remove any mouldy parts and discard, but bruising etc. is not a problem.

Step 2. Place the apple cores and peel into the jars, and fill to just below the shoulder.

Step 3. Add 1 litre of pre-boiled water to a jug and dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar (4 tablespoons) in the water. Pour the sugar water into the jars of fruit, filling until the fruit is under the surface. For 2-litre jars, I use just over a litre of sugar water, the exact amount depends on how much apple you manage to stuff in there. If you need more than a litre, make extra sugar water up at a ratio of 1 tablespoon of sugar per cup of water.

Step 4. Cover the lid of the jar with a piece of clean cloth, paper towel, a coffee filter or similar and secure in place with an elastic band or canning ring, you want air to enter, but vinegar flies and debris to stay out. Place in a warm dark spot that is about 19-26°C.

Step 5. Check the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon a few times  each day, poking down any floating apple. This helps avoid the apples turning mouldy. DO NOT PUT METAL SPOONS INTO THE JAR. When the bubbling in the jar stops (after approximately 1-2 weeks), strain the apple scraps out with cheesecloth, then return the liquid to the jar. Place a new piece of cloth/paper towel and a band over, then place back in your warm dark spot.

Step 6. Leave alone for 2-6 months until you are happy with the taste (I sample with a pipette or turkey baster to avoid disturbing the mother). The speed of the process will depend on when you catch the right bacteria from the air and the room temperature etc., each batch is different. When a white film forms on the surface of the apple juice this is a good sign that things are progressing well. The film is the ‘mother of vinegar’ and will gradually thicken over a period of weeks. When you make your next batch you will need this so do not discard or remove it. If you move the jar around the mother will often sink to the bottom, this is not a problem. Once your vinegar has a thick ‘mother’ taste periodically to determine when the vinegar is ready. The liquid should taste vinegary rather than sweet or cider-like.

Step 7. Once you are happy with your vinegar, start a new batch with apple scraps. When that batch has reached Step 5, strain out the fruit and add the mother from the first batch to the new apple cider vinegar. Adding the mother speeds up the whole process considerably so the next batch will be ready in around 6-8 weeks. The mother will sink to the bottom of the jar, but a new mother will quickly grow on the surface. For the next batch, I discard the sunken mother and use the floating mother. If you do not want to start another batch you can place the mother on hold by placing in an airtight jar to slow things down and covering with vinegar from the first batch. Open the jar once a week to provide air. For extended periods on hold, feed your mother apple liquid as made during the first stage of this process (up to step 5).

Step 8. Strain the vinegar through a coffee filter and then bottle. Even without oxygen the vinegar will remain alive for some time and will grow its own small mother and forms brownish strands close to the bottom of the jar. Eventually without oxygen the mother will sink and form a dark sediment at the bottom of the bottle, just like shop bought varieties. The vinegar is best left to mature for a month before use as flavour improves and mellows with time.


Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar from Scraps
 
Never spend money on Apple Cider Vinegar again, make it at home for free from apple cores and peel or for better results the cost of ¼ cup sugar. This method produces a 'mother of vinegar'every time!
Author:
Recipe type: Vinegar
Cuisine: Condiments
Ingredients
  • Equipment
  • 2 x 1-quart jars
  • Elastic bands or canning ring
  • Sharp knife or peeler
  • Clean cloth, medical gauze, paper towel or coffee filter(for top of jar)
  • Cheesecloth or flour sack material (for staining out apple pieces)
  • Unbleached coffee filter for straining out final sediment and bottling
  • Ingredients
  • Apple peel and cores from Organic fruit (enough to fill 2 jars)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Organic Sugar or preferred sweetener (1 tablespoon per cup of water)
  • Water (approximately 1 litre)
  • White vinegar (optional for rinsing jars and removing soap residue)
Instructions
  1. Clean both jars with hot soapy water. Rinse well, first with cold water, then with white vinegar to ensure there is no dish soap residue. Scrub the apples thoroughly
  2. Peel apples and remove core, you can either use the whole apple for the vinegar or use the flesh to make pies, sauce, juice etc. and just use the scraps. Remove any mouldy parts and discard, but bruising etc. is not a problem.
  3. Place the apple cores and peel into the jars, and fill to just below the shoulder.
  4. Add 1 litre of pre-boiled water to a jug and dissolve ¼ cup of sugar in the water. Pour the sugar water into the jars of fruit, filling until the fruit is under the surface. For 2-litre jars, I use just over a litre of sugar water, the exact amount depends on how much fruit you manage to stuff in there. If you need more than a litre, make extra sugar water up at a ratio of 1 tablespoon of sugar per cup of water.
  5. Cover the lid of the jar with a piece of clean cloth, paper towel, a coffee filter or similar and secure in place with an elastic band or canning ring, you want air to enter, but vinegar flies and debris to stay out. Place in a warm dark spot that is about 19-26 degrees C.
  6. Check the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon a few times each day, poking down any floating apple. This helps avoid the apples turning mouldy. DO NOT PUT METAL SPOONS INTO THE JAR. When the bubbling in the jar stops (after approximately 1-2 weeks), strain the apple scraps out with cheesecloth, then return the liquid to the jar. Place a new piece of cloth/paper towel and a band over, then place back in your warm dark spot.
  7. Leave alone for 2-6 months until you are happy with the taste (I sample with a pipette or turkey baster to avoid disturbing the mother). The speed of the process will depend on when you catch the right bacteria from the air and the room temperature etc., each batch is different. When a white film forms on the surface of the apple juice this is a good sign that things are progressing well. The film is the 'mother of vinegar' and will gradually thicken over a period of weeks. When you make your next batch you will need this so do not discard or remove it. If you move the jar around the mother will often sink to the bottom, this is not a problem. Once your vinegar has a thick 'mother' taste periodically to determine when the vinegar is ready. The liquid should taste vinegary rather than sweet or cider-like.
  8. Once you are happy with your vinegar, start a new batch with apple scraps. When that batch has reached Step 5, strain out the fruit and add the mother from the first batch to the new apple cider vinegar. Adding the mother speeds up the whole process considerably so the next batch will be ready in around 6-8 weeks. The mother will sink to the bottom of the jar, but a new mother will quickly grow on the surface. For the next batch, I discard the sunken mother and use the floating mother. If you do not want to start another batch you can place the mother on hold by placing in an airtight jar to slow things down and covering with vinegar from the first batch. Open the jar once a week to provide air. For extended periods on hold, feed your mother apple liquid as made during the first stage of this process (up to step 5).
  9. Strain the vinegar through a coffee filter and then bottle. Even without oxygen the vinegar will remain alive for some time and will grow its own small mother and forms brownish strands close to the bottom of the jar. Eventually without oxygen the mother will sink and form a dark sediment at the bottom of the bottle, just like shop bought varieties. The vinegar is best left to mature for a month before use as flavour improves and mellows with time.

 


Related Articles

7 Comments

  1. As a side note, I know honey will kill yeast if used in baking. I imagine it would do the same here. If you’re going to use sugar, I’d skip using honey.

    1. Hi there, thanks for the comment. I was initially worried about that given its antibacterial properties, but it does work, just a bit slower. I also ferment honey in Jun and unlike Kombucha which is fast with sugar the honey version just takes longer to produce results.

  2. Hi,

    I made some ACV I think twice, without a mother forming.

    BUT, now I have a mother and am so pleased with it! I ran upon your website in a Google search for “how to make ACV using a mother”.

    I might have to wait another week or three, but am so, so happy with my ACVs on the kitchen top.

    I always make my ACV with honey and, well, it works.

    Thanks for this recipe.

  3. Hi. If I already have a ‘mother’ that has grown from some raw ACV I bought, how and when would I use that to make my first batch of vinegar? 🤔

  4. Any idea how long you can leave the vinegar developing with the scraps in it, or after removal? Since so much is variable, particularly temperature, I moved my four jars to the pantry downstairs ( very cool in winter). I didn’t check very oftne but when I did, they didn’t seem very vinegary. Now the one I checked on today smells not vinegary at all. Kind of weird and funky, but not moldy. Did it go too long? Did the vinegar evaporate?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

Rate this recipe:  

After you have typed in some text, hit ENTER to start searching...