Have you ever done something just to see if it works? Last September, I decided to make my own vinegar. Why not? We had plenty of apples from our orchard to work with and I use gallons of vinegar in cooking, canning and cleaning. But vinegar is so cheap already, you say. Ahhhh, but the satisfaction of knowing you can do it…if you had to.
All you need is a gallon glass jar, honey, and about 4 cut-up apples. Some recipes say you can even use peels and cores and whatever is left after you prepare apples for sauce or pies. I used whole apples the first time but I will make vinegar in conjunction with preparing pie filling and sauce for canning next time. All the trimmings will go into the vinegar batch.
Place 1 cup honey in your jar and cover with a few cups of water. Stir until honey is dissolved. Add the apples and fill the jar with water up to the top. Cover the top with a triple layer of cheesecloth tied on with string. That’s it…except for patience. Place your jar in a warm dark place. I put mine in my kitchen pantry which worked well. My original recipe said to stir it daily but this gal is more the make it and leave it type, and it worked. After about 3 months–yes, 3 months–when it starts to smell like alcohol or hard cider, you can strain out the fruit but return the “mother” to the vinegar jar. What is the “mother” you say? Well this is where it gets interesting. It is not mold; it is the result of the transformation the apples and sweetened water go through to get from there to hard cider and then to vinegar. The mother is a whitish, rubbery layer that is a natural by-product of fermenting. Vinegar that has remnants of the mother is very healthy and I know many who take vinegar with the mother medicinally–but that’s another blog.
Leave the cider with the mother for another couple of months until the vinegar no longer smells like alcohol but like vinegar. Strain the vinegar through cheesecloth and bottle. I saved the mother and put it in another glass jar with water to save it to add to this falls vinegar. Store it at room temperature. The process is faster with the mother. Now that I know how easy this is to do, I will make as much vinegar as I have jars to fill this September.