Apple scrap vinegar. It’s not quite Apple Cider Vinegar (it usually doesn’t get to the same acidity level, so it’s less suitable for safe home food-preserving like ACV is), but it does the job for home cleaning, salad dressings, fire cider and hair conditioner, and it’s made from apple scraps that would otherwise have been going onto the compost, so we’re happy with that!
Apple cores, peels or chunks
Sugar. Raw or white is good.
1. Chop apples, or use cores & peels from cooking/preserving. We often use foraged roadside apples. See notes below about that.
2. Chuck apple scraps in large glass, ceramic or plastic container, add enough water to cover well & a 1/4 cup of sugar per 500g of scraps.
3. Leave covered with a teatowel in a dark, cool spot for a month or so. Give it a daily stir until the apple bits stop rising to the top (usually about 2-3 weeks). During this time it will start to froth & bubble, and smell like weak apple cider.
4. Strain through a scalded teatowel into a clean jar. Compost apple bits.
5. Add a slurp of ACV with the mother in it if you want to speed up the process of your first batch. After the first round, you can leave a bit of the previous batch and the mother in the jar each time you strain, and this will help the next batch get started.
6. Leave scrap cider in a dark spot, again covered by a teatowel, for another month or until it smells and tastes like vinegar. This can take a few months, so don’t stress if it hasn’t happened after a month. A mother may form as a gelatinous disc on top, or as a sludgy residue at the bottom: either is fine.
* If you forage your apples, make sure you’re doing it safely and sensibly: avoid industrial areas or tres close to busy roads, as tainted groundwater and exhaust fumes may be present in/on the fruit. Also only ever harvest what you *need* and ensure it’s no more than 1/4 of the ripe fruit there (common foraging etiquette, and so important for wildlife).
* When using foraged apples, watch out for coddling moth grubs. These fat white grubs chew tunnels through fruit, leaving behind crumbly black-brown powder. Cut these bits out, and the rest of the apple is fine to use.
* When straining, try to leave behind as much sludge/Mother as you can. This will be useful for your next vinegar ferment, and make your strained vinegar clearer. Do *not* (like we did the first time) swirl the sludge into the vinegar before straining. Leave the gelatinous living colony that is the Mother behind in the jar with a bit of vinegar to keep it happy until the next round.
*If mould or white kahm yeast develops on top of your vinegar, don’t worry too much: just scoop it off and leave the liquid to keep fermenting. at a certain stage, the acidity will work towards killing off any lingering bacterium. We once had a pretty hefty kahm yeast settle in on top of our vinegar. we couldn’t strain or remove it, but after just leaving it alone for another month, there was no trace of it any more! The only time you would toss your batch would be if you developed black mould.
*Your finished vinegar will keep almost indefinitely in a dark pantry. No need for refrigeration.