Mastering homemade apple cider vinegar (ACV) is probably one of the simplest kitchen tasks you'll encounter. It takes little more than filling a jar with chopped apples, adding water and honey, and letting the mixture do its thing. It's pretty foolproof (if I can do it, so can you, trust me), and will leave you with a sense of accomplishment.
Use organic apples and raw, organic honey to ensure your apple cider vinegar is from the best ingredients possible.
I like to make apple cider vinegar with scraps left over from another recipe, such as peels and cores, but you can also use the whole apple, cut up, making sure to layer the pieces in the jar so they remain under the water. The advantage to using peels and cores is you use a part of the apple that's otherwise composted. For this article, I'll assume you're using the whole apple, although them method remains the same whether you use all of it or not.
If you haven't made vinegar before, you'll be surprised at the taste – it's very different from store-bought apple cider vinegar. It's much lighter and brighter, in the same way that homemade mayo is. It's great in salad dressings and marinades, and also makes a great gift for friends who might not have tried it before.
Apple cider vinegar is also great to use in household cleaners along with your favorite essential oil scents. If you're not sure how to use it around the house, feel free to download my guide here.
To begin making your vinegar, start with three apples of any variety. I tend to use sweeter apples because I use peels and cores leftover from making applesauce, but any variety will work. I've found when using sweeter apples, the vinegar is sweeter, and vice versa. You can also use a mixture of varieties. It's really up to your imagination, and any sort of apple will ferment into a nice, amber apple cider vinegar.
When making your vinegar, be sure to keep all the apple chunks below the surface – I like to use an air-locked container for the fermentation process, other people just put a scrap of cloth over the top. If the apple rises above the surface, you might introduce unwanted bacteria into your mixture.
After a couple weeks, you'll notice the strong smell of alcohol in your vinegar mixture – to create apple cider vinegar, you first need to make apple cider, and after a couple more weeks, that smell will go away, and will turn to vinegar. The key is to get it past this point, and warn everyone in your house, lest they throw it away (my husband's done this before).
After four weeks or so, you'll notice a scummy, cloudy mass in your jar. That's the mother – a collection of beneficial bacteria that will kickstart your next batch. It's a clear indicator that something's going right with your apple cider vinegar. You'll notice a classic vinegar taste at this time, also.
Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 apples (any variety)
- 3 teaspoons raw honey
- Warm, filtered water
- Cut your apples into 1/2″ sized pieces or slices.
- Place them in a sterile quart-sized mason jar.
- Mix your honey with 1 cup of warm water and add it to the jar. Be sure to use warm water so the honey will dissolve a little.
- Add more water if needed so the apples are completely covered.
- Cover the jar using an air lock, or use a scrap of cloth secured with a rubber band. This keeps nasties away while letting the liquid breathe.
- Place your jar in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks until the mixture has formed cider.
- Strain the liquid and compost the apple pieces (I feed mine to my chickens).
- Return the liquid to the same jar and cover it with a clean cloth.
- Leave the jar in a dark place again for 4-6 weeks until it's turned to vinegar.