Apple cider vinegar is a magic liquid that has been recently becoming more and more popular, due to all the incredible health benefits. Ironically, the amazing, almost unbelievable effects the ACV has on our body, healing, detoxifying, alkalising, balancing etc. has been long known to our grandmothers and their grandmothers.
There is a lot of different opinions as to what apples to use. Some say the sour kind is better. Some say the sweeter the better. I found out that is is essentially of little importance whether the apples be sweet or sour. What matters more is the density – hard apples are better than soft, “spongy” once, because they won’t fall apart completely, making the straining process more difficult.
In my recent batch, though, I got bold and used a mix of all the possible apple sorts (not only because during the apple season they sold it to me at €3 per 10kg…) And the results are great!
Some people use no apples at all, only peels and cores (which also works, I tried!). Being a great way to maximize your recycling powers and not waste any of the goodies (especially if you have good quality apples, from your own garden, organic etc). For me it doesn’t work that great for one reason: during the apple season I like to produce huge amounts of ACV that will last long and serve as some inexpensive but highly appreciated gifts for my family and friends. We would need to eat tones of apples daily to supply me with enough peels…
Also, many use sugar instead of honey because it is cheaper. You can do it and it won’t affect the taste of your AVC. I do not recommend it though, because when you make it yourself, investing your time and putting your energy into it, why not make it the best and healthiest way? And good quality honey will provide you with the highest quality vinegar!
So, what you will need, first and most of all, is a lot of apples!
– 1-1 ½ kg apples
– 1-1 ¼ l lukewarm, filtered water
– 4-5 tsp natural honey
You will also need some large jars or other glass containers. The bigger the better, but you must remember that the taller the jar, the longer the wooden spoon for stirring will need to be!
After 4-6 weeks, when the vinegar is ready, you will need bottles to pour it into. Choose pretty bottles to pour it into – especially if you are planning to use some of the ACV you made as a gift. I love the variety you can find (the liqueur and schnapps industries are particularily creative when it comes to bottles. You can collect them of if not a drinker, ask your freinds to keep the pretty ones for you).
On the picture you see some examples from my 2015 collection: 2 wine bottles, 2 schnapps bottles, and 2 simple beer bottles (no, I do not drink so much, I collect them from a cafe where I work) 😉
– Wash the apples, half them and remove the seeds (some leave the seeds and all but I doubt they add to the flavour but they do add to the chaos during straining…).
– Cut the apples into small pieces and fill up a jar/s almost all the way to the top (don’t worry that it looks too full, the apples will shrink after only a couple of days and go on shrinking).
– Fill the jar/s with lukewarm water sweetened with honey. The water will fill in the gaps between apple chunks. Cover them all the way to the top, until all the apples are covered. You don’t need to measure the exact weight of apples per 1l of water, although I did when doing my first ACV ever, just to get a feel of it.
– Cover the jars with a cotton kitchen towel (I have a special set of small squares I cut out of the normal kitchen towel, they are small enough not to take up a lot of space and to be easily removed and put back on when it is the Stirring Time!) or double folded cheese cloth, and put a rubber band around each. This will keep the fruit flies or other creatures attracted to the aroma of fermentation away, at the same time, allowing your ACV to “breathe”.
– The first couple of days it will be difficult to stir, as the apples remain in their original size and hardness. Try once a day to stir it a bit anyway, just to bring another layer of apples to top. For the first 2 weeks I stir the soon-to-be vinegar once a day, for the next 2 weeks every 2 days. For stirring use a dry wooden spoon or spatula.
– Keep for 4 weeks in a warm place (if in a cooler place, like outdoor or a pantry, it may take up to 6 weeks).
– When ready, pour into the bottles through a cheese cloth.
This is what you will have as a by-product after straining and VERY gently squeezing your apple pulp (squeeze gently to get more liquid than pulp):
* If at any point you notice mold on your vinegar, that portion will need to be disposed of… It never happened to me but I am a very regular “stirrer”. My guess is that mold may appear if the some pieces of apples stay too long above the water surface. That’s why it is important to stir often (meaning once a day, lets not go crazy about it either!) for the first 2 weeks, or as long as it takes for the apples to decompose enough not to be sticking above the surface.
This is what your vinegar-to-be will look like for the first couple of days:
This is the difficult-to-stir period, so just make sure to change the top layer of the apples or press those that are sticking up above the water under the surface.
What mine looked like after 2 weeks:
Don’t worry if yours doesn’t look exactly the same, it all depends on the apples after all. Most certainly after 2 weeks your apples will be noticeably softer and your vinegar easier to stir.
After 4 weeks it will look like a mess but smell unmistakenly of vinegar:
It is up to you to decide whether your ACV is ready or it needs another week or so to ripen. The first time I did mine, I simply tested: strained a small amount (about half of a 1/2 l jar) and tasted it. If it doesn’t seem stron enough, you can then leave the remaining jars for another week, then taste again or trust that it must be good already. Don’t worry if you pour it into bottles too early. If you leave it in the bottles, it will still ripen, though it will take slightly longer then.
This is the amount I got from approximately 10kg of apples (one bottle is missing because I couldn’t do without my Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse…):
After pouring it out (which is quite a bit of work, believe me, especially if you ambiciously used the entire 10kgs!…), comes the fun part – creating personalized labels or decorating your bottles! I always print the Prana Masala basic labels and then complete them with the handwriting – that way it has got this special personal touch and makes it look undoubtebly homemade!
You can also hand make your lables from a scratch, stick them to the bottles, paint them on the bottles, write personalized messages to your friends that are going to receive a gift of ACV, write personalized messages to the members of your family who are going to use this ACV, write personalized messages to yourself, because why not?… Of course, you can also skip the label fun, hope nobody will mistake the vinegar for an orange juice and take a generous sip of it in the morning, and be proud of the job well done!
Let us know how your adventure with Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar was!