Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Quicker" Real Apple Cider Vinegar

Last year, I wrote a couple of posts about making apple cider vinegar. The technique I favored and said to have the best taste was to first make hard cider, and I did start some last fall when fresh unpasteurized apple cider was available. It's still in the root cellar aging, and I have decided if it's any good at all, I prefer to bottle the cider for drinking rather than turn it into vinegar.

That left me with either having no apple cider vinegar at all, or buying Braggs, which is getting more expensive all the time... and I use a lot of it! Then I read a post on someone's blog several months ago about making apple cider vinegar from either whole apples, or from apple peelings and cores, leaving it to ferment in a wide-mouth container quickly through alcohol production to vinegar. Unfortunately I have no idea where I read it. However, I decided to try what I remembered of the method.

In early May, I was cleaning up the few remaining apples in the root cellar from last fall, and found a few that had bad spots but enough good apple to salvage. I cut the good parts up into chunks (seeds, peels and all) that I put on a cookie sheet. The idea is to let them air dry long enough to turn brown, but I don't know (or don't remember) why.

My old apples didn't turn brown very well, nor as quickly as a fresh apple does. I think that's because they lose so much moisture in the root cellar over the several months' storage. After about 3 days, I packed a wide-mouth half gallon canning jar with the apple chunks (photo at top), filled the jar with bottled water (to avoid the chlorine in our county water), fixed a piece of cheesecloth on top with a rubber band, and set the jar in a closed cardboard box out on the porch where it was warmer (and dark inside the box).

I checked them every week or so, and only had to top up the water twice during the 2 or so months or so they were fermenting.

When it started smelling only like vinegar, I left it another 2 weeks to be sure the alcohol was all converted to acetic acid, and then strained the apple chunks out with a colander. It did have a thin layer of "mother" on the top. It's very cloudy right now, but I didn't want to use cheesecloth to strain out any fine pulp so it can still develop a thicker "mother". I'm sure that it will clear as the solids sink to the bottom.

Here, after sitting 24 hours, you can see the settling has started.
It smells and tastes terrific! Certainly a lot quicker process than making hard cider and then turning it to vinegar. I'll do this again in the fall when I have apples again, but in larger batches.

Update: My neighbor just gave me some Transparent apples, which mature much earlier than fall... so I cubed some to start another batch of ACV. The ones on the first tray were already starting to brown by the time I finished the 3rd tray.


  1. Oh it looks great!! Apple cider vinegar is just all around great stuff!

  2. Thanks, Anne. It's SO easy, but I had to put it the new batch out on the porch because the fruit flies were driving me crazy!

  3. Ugh.. I hate fruit flies. I take a plastic water bottle, cut off the top 1/3rd.. invert it and tape it back on. Then I put fruit juice mixed with water and tiny tiny pinch of yeast in and just the smallest amount of dish soap (like dip the tip of a toothpick in soap and add that.. only enough to break surface tension.)

    They fly in and have a hard time figuring their way out. At night I put the bottle in the freezer (freezing kills off the fruit flies) and pull it out again in the morning. It takes awhile but it helps a lot with fruit flies.

    Good luck... and I hope I find jars to try your method this fall!! (so excited!!)

  4. I think I'm going to try some of this. About what temperature was it during your ferment time? I'm guessing it will take a lot longer if the house is 68 - 72 degrees this fall than it did for you this summer.

  5. I wonder how different the vinegar will taste from each specific apple variety? Do you know what kind of apples you used for your first batch?
    And...I'm thinking that I read a vinegar procedure like this in Wild Fermentation. I'm going to check when I get home.

  6. I put them outside on the porch to ferment, temps probably close to 80ºF; they weren't fermenting well in the house with the AC running.

    My hard cider made last year was mostly sweet apples, which made a not so sharp hard cider. The early apples I used this year were probably "Transparent" as there are a lot of them around here.

    I'm looking for a "Hewes" crab to grow, some to add for cider, and some for vinegar.

  7. Hi, Darius~
    I love the idea of this. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions...some of my apples floated above the water and molded. I should have used skewers to keep the fruit below the lip of the jar.
    Should I start over or can this be saved??
    What was your experience?
    Thank you,

  8. Sandi, I had that happen to one jar. I just scooped out and threw away the top 20%, added more water and 2-3 Tbs. Bragg's ACV. I haven't tasted it yet, but generally if it's a floating greenish mold, it can be saved. If the whole mess smells stinky after removing the mold and top apples, toss it.

    With my lacto-fermets, I use a small yogurt cup upside down on top of the veggies. Sometimes I have to trim the height. If I have a wide-mouth jar, I will use the lid from a large yogurt or cottage cheese container under the yogurt cup.


I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.