Having found a functional, reasonably priced, glass vessel which allows for the easy dispensing of liquid that will look nice on my benchtop, I thought I’d try my hand at making apple cider vinegar.
Fortunately, organic, unpasteurised ACV is fairly common in Australia, you can buy it in the big chain supermarkets or just about any health food store. But I’m a cheapskate, and I’m experimenting, so I thought I’d make my own to use for salad dressings, drinking (diluted in water), making herbal tonics and washing my hair.
Please read my recipe note about using organic produce.
You will need:
- a glass jar, at least 500mL (1 pint) capacity that has been sterilised;
- apples. Any kind will work ok, but the most interesting ACV is made from a mixture of sweet, sour and bitter apples. Late season (autumn and winter ripening) varieties have more sugar in them, and will therefore make a stronger vinegar. I used the juicing apples from the local organic shop; they’re not pretty, but they taste just fine. It’s not quite apple season in Melbourne yet, but my trees are blossoming with promise.
- Knife and chopping block;
- Juicer or cider press. This is not compulsory, but makes life so much easier. If you don’t have a juicer, a grater and a bowl will be needed instead.
- Piece of cheese cloth, old (clean!) handkerchief or tea towel (linen works best in my fermenting experience) which has also been sterilised;
- a rubber band and
- a permanent marker or labels
I’m going to assume that you’re working in your kitchen and so will have access to water and a container/sink in which to wash your apples.
Then you just need to put your cloth of choice over the jar mouth and secure it with a rubber band. Set the jar in a dark place at room temperature and give it a shake every day for two weeks, at least once per day, being careful not to spill the liquid (remember that the cover is porous!). You’ll be able to tell when it’s turned from apple cider into vinegar because it will develop the appropriate odour.
Once you can smell the vinegar, taste the liquid about once per week until you reach the sourness that you like. It’s then ready to use. If you want to stop the vinegar from fermenting further, just filter the liquid through a sterilised cloth into a sterilised jar to remove the mother culture and store in a cool, dark place. This vinegar does not need to be refrigerated.