DIY: Make your own apple cider vinegar

Did you know that you can make your own apple cider vinegar with just some apple peels and cores and water…and a bit of patience?  I didn’t know either until I started doing a bit of research.

We use lots of apple cider vinegar on our farm for its wide array of health benefits for us and for our chickens.  I consider it one of the ‘Holistic Trinity’ of chicken keeping and vital to my and my husband’s health, as well as a key ingredient in any good Pie Crust!  [As the vinegar evaporates during baking it pushes the layers of crust apart to result in a super flaky crust]

Apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ in it, such as Bragg’s, is raw and unpasteurized and has the most benefits. The mother is basically a yeast/live bacteria natural concoction that helps balance bacteria in the intestines of humans AND chickens.  However, it’s not cheap and we go through quite a lot of it, so I started researching how to make my own.

There are tons of blog posts and articles about making your own apple cider vinegar.  I looked for the cheapest, easiest way I could find that seemed to yield good results on a consistent basis.  Mother Earth News published an article that was the most straightforward of any I read and sure enough, it’s not only easy, but you only need apples and water (sugar is optional, although the fruit sugars will suffice)….and some canning jars and cheesecloth.  No special kits or ingredients.

So the next time you bake an apple pie, save the peels and cores and make a batch of apple cider vinegar for yourself.

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DIY: Make your own apple cider vinegar
 
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Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place the peels and cores in a large glass or stoneware bowl and cover with water by an inch or so. (Optional to help the fermentation/yeast process work faster – add ¼ Cup of sugar for each quart of water you used and stir to mix thoroughly.)
  2. Cover the bowl with a heavy plate. The apple scraps need to be completely submersed in the water. Cover the whole thing with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for a week in a cool dark location. Between 65-85 degrees is a good fermentation temperature range, and be sure to keep it in a dark place, because UV light destroys the fermentation process.
  3. The mixture will begin to bubble and foam as yeast forms.
  4. When the week is up, spoon off any black mold that has grown. That’s also okay and will occur if the mixture isn’t kept cool enough, but if you keep the bowl in a cool spot you shouldn’t have any mold.
  5. Strain out the apple solids and pour the liquid into sterilized canning jars, leaving about an inch of head room and discard the solids. Cover each canning jar with a square of doubled cheesecloth and screw just the ring part of the top on. (Hang onto the flat parts of the lids, you’ll need them later) This allows the yeast to ‘breathe’ and prevents the metal from corroding.
  6. Store the jars on a shelf in your pantry and wait about six weeks. A film should start forming on the top. The is the ‘mother’. You can open up the jars and stir or swirl them so the mother settles on the bottom and more will grow on top.
  7. At about a month, the liquid is cloudy but still fairly light without a distinct ‘vinegar’ smell.
  8. At a month, the color has deepened and there is some residue settling on the bottom.
  9. After six weeks, replace the cheesecloth with the flat part of the lid and screw the ring back on. There is a distinct ‘vinegar’ smell now and jellyfish-like masses floating in the jar.
  10. Stored in a cool, dark place, the apple cider vinegar will last indefinitely. By this point the yeast will have eaten all the available sugars and you will be left with a ‘shelf-stable’ vinegar. The flavor will develop and evolve over time.

Here’s how to do it:

Wash, peel and core 5-10 (preferably organic) apples.  Another nice thing is that there’s no set amount, you can make as much or as little as you want.

Place the peels and cores in a large glass or stoneware bowl and cover with water by an inch or so.  (Optional to help the fermentation/yeast process work faster – add 1/4 Cup of sugar for each quart of water you used and stir to mix thoroughly.)

Cover the bowl with a heavy plate. The apple scraps need to be completely submersed in the water.   Cover the whole thing with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for a week in a cool dark location.  Between 65-85 degrees is a good fermentation temperature range, and be sure to keep it in a dark place, because UV light destroys the fermentation process.

The mixture will begin to bubble and foam as yeast forms.  That’s normal and in fact by Day 3, I had bubbling!

When the week is up, spoon off any black mold that has grown.  That’s also okay and will occur if the mixture isn’t kept cool enough, but if you keep the bowl in a cool spot you shouldn’t have any mold.

Strain out the apple solids and pour the liquid into sterilized canning jars, leaving about an inch of head room and discard the  solids.  Cover each canning jar with a square of doubled cheesecloth and screw just the ring part of the top on.   (Hang onto the flat parts of the lids, you’ll need them later)  This allows the yeast to ‘breathe’ and prevents the metal from corroding.

Store the jars on a shelf in your pantry and wait about six weeks.  A film should start forming on the top. The is the ‘mother’.  You can open up the jars and stir or swirl them so the mother settles on the bottom and more will grow on top.  (This photo shows how it should look after about two weeks)

Here’s how it looks at just about a month.  Definite ‘mother’ growing on top there!

At about a month, the liquid is cloudy but still fairly light without a distinct ‘vinegar’ smell.

At a month, the color has deepened and there is some residue settling on the bottom.

After six weeks, replace the cheesecloth with the flat part of the lid and screw the ring back on.  There is a distinct ‘vinegar’ smell now and jellyfish-like masses floating in the jar.

Stored in a cool, dark place, the apple cider vinegar will last indefinitely.  By this point the yeast will have eaten all the available sugars and you will be left with a ‘shelf-stable’ vinegar.  The flavor will develop and evolve over time.

Note: If you save some of the mother from each batch and add it to the next batch, the vinegar will be finished more quickly.  It’s been hard waiting the six weeks for my first batch, but I have several batches started now that will finish at the end of consecutive weeks, so I will always have a batch of homemade apple cider vinegar ready going forward.

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Comments

  1. DorkDuo says

    Oh, this is wonderful and so easy! I knew it could be done and pondered the thought before, but never took the time to research it. This is a MUST try for me real soon.

    Thanks so much!
    Ann

    • Lisa Steele says

      You can use as many or as few as you want/have. Just be sure they are covered completely with water.

  2. Jennifer D says

    I tried it with apple cores (complete-not juiced) and pulp of 5 apples (from my juicer) however when I did the recipe after I strained the liquid from solids the color was very light and it smelled like hard cider beer (probably from the yeast). I was just wondering why it was light and not dark as in your picture. Thanks

    • Lisa Steele says

      The color definitely deepens as it ages and I also think different types of apples make different shades of ACV.

  3. Laura says

    Jus wondering if this process above is enough to turn the alcohol content from the apple cider into acetic acid? I’m wanting to make my own ACV but don’t want it to have any alcohol in it. Somewhere I read that some commercial brands don’t let it ferment long enough for it all to turn into the acid. I haven’t seen anything about whether the diy methods are long enough for the conversion. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

  4. Jim says

    Hello, @ step 9, would it hurt to strain out the ‘jellyfish’ before sealing for storage? This would make it clear like store bought ACV.

  5. Doug says

    I was wondering how to keep peels and cores from floating to the top of my jar. My last batched molded real bad and i was uncertain so i let it go.

  6. Hakeem Muhammad Zafar Iqbal says

    How can we Waite six months for preparation of apple cider vinegar in any emergency use. So a simple method should be to prepare apple vinegar.

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