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How to make raw organic apple cider vinegar*

How To Make Your Own Health-Boosting Apple Cider Vinegar At Home

The many benefits of apple cider vinegar are even greater when you make your own

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Apples are one of nature’s most symbolic and generous of fruits; they are easy to grow, store pretty well, and have been bred and nurtured by people into thousands of flavorful varieties They’re rich in nutrients, refreshing, often beautifully marked and shaped, and are of course super-convenient to snack on This is natural fast food at its best

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Commercially produced raw organic apple cider vinegar is made by pressing apples to first make apple juice and then allowing this juice to ferment into hard cider This is an anaerobic alcoholic fermentation, in which yeasts convert sugar to ethanol in a controlled environment To progress to cider vinegar, there’s a secondary fermentation, this time aerobic, when acetic acid bacteria take over, converting the alcohol to acid (You can certainly try this method at home—here’s how to use store-bought yeast to make your own vinegar)

The commercial process uses apple juice only and it’s certainly the best way to make strong, full-flavored apple cider vinegar But there’s a quick method to make your own using whole apples, which is also the perfect way to sample the simple charms of wild fermentation

Making this vinegar, as with all wild fermentation, is not an exact science Every batch is an experiment in its own right, especially when made from different varieties of apples, and will ferment in its own special way and make unique-tasting apple cider vinegar Try different combinations of sweet and sour apples to vary the overall taste profile

As for timings, well, they’re very much guidelines It all depends on the ambient temperature, the sweetness of the apples (fall and winter apples are best—summer and green apples are typically lower sugar and don't ferment as well), and the amount and type of sugar added Experiment—you will love it, and your kitchen will soon look and smell like a fermentation workshop

Wild Fermented Apple Cider Vinegar

Makes approx 4 quarts

5 large apples—3 sweet and 2 sour

Freshly filtered water, at room temperature

¾ cup raw honey or ¾ cup unrefined cane juice sugar

Large rubber band and 4 smaller rubber bands

Stage 1: Make very rough hard cider—the primary fermentation

Wash the apples and coarsely chop into pieces no smaller than 1 inchACV is also a germ fighter in the home, lab, etc. Include the skin, cores, stems, and seeds Let the chopped pieces sit on your cutting board for about an hour or so; they will get brown in contact with the air, and this oxidization is what you want as it will speed up the fermentation

Throw the pieces into a clean 5-quart jar—they should fill the jar by about one-third to a half If they do not, add more chopped apple Add enough filtered water to cover the chopped apples completely—the container should be more or less full, say to about 2 inches from the top Stir in the raw honey or cane sugar until fully dissolved

(Side note: You can, if you like, do the “Scraps method”—eating your apples while making quick apple cider vinegar Follow the overall method above, but rather than chopping up your apples, peel them very coarsely with a knife Keep the flesh for making an apple pie (here’s a classic apple pie recipe) or some apple compote, and let the skins, cores, seeds, and stalks sit out to brown Use these scraps to make your cider and your vinegar Use about half the recommended honey or unrefined cane juice sugar)

Ideally, you want to keep all the apples immersed as they ferment Use a suitable object, such as an upturned beaker or a smaller jar, to press down and submerge the apples

After about another 7 to 9 days, often when the apple pieces no longer float but sink to the bottom of the jar, the apple cider is ready to be converted to vinegar It’s perfectly acceptable to leave the jar to ferment for much longer, say 6 weeks, and as every batch is different, it’s good to experiment You will end up with different flavors and strengths of apple cider vinegar

Stage 2: From apple cider to apple cider vinegar— the secondary fermentation

The apples have done their work, so strain off the pieces by pouring the cider through a sieve into the 4 x 1-quart glass jars If you like, you can mash up the apple pieces and press their juices out, and add this to the jars Cover each jar with a fresh piece of cloth and secure with a rubber band

From 3 weeks onward, gently push aside the mother to taste your apple cider vinegar to see if it is ready Once it has the right level of sourness for you, remove the mother, if one has fully formed, keeping her immersed in a jar of apple cider ready for the next batch Most commercially produced apple cider vinegars have a declared acidity (pH) of 45 to 5, where in pH terms, 7 is neutral and 0 is most acidic

Pour off the vinegar, leaving behind the residue, which you can compost Store in clean glass jars with secure lids or snap-top bottles

Tip: To speed up the transformation from cider to vinegar, add some of your mother from a previously made batch or from commercially made raw apple cider vinegar, with the mother, to your secondary fermentation

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