Updated: Jan 17, 2021
Making your own apple cider vinegar is one of the simplest pioneer skills to cultivate.
All it takes is time! ...and some apples of course.
Every year we purchase a few bushels of fallen apples from a local farm to make our own apple cider. The kids love using our family apple press to squeeze all that delicious juice out of the apples and it's a fun activity we look forward to every fall.
Once we are done pressing that sweet nectar out of all those apples there's a surplus of apple rinds left behind and the question arises of what to do with it all. We try to incorporate a zero waste mindset on our homestead and so over the years I've discovered some fun ways to put these spent apples to work for me! If you have chickens they will happily gobble up this treat, just keep the rinds away from any ruminants because an overconsumption could cause bloat. You could also add it to your compost pile, but my favorite thing to do is make apple cider vinegar because it's so easy!
Apple Peels & Cores
Grab your fermentation kit here that includes the two half gallon jars with airtight lids as well as muslin cloth and extra large rubber bands.
Fill a mason jar with your spent peels and cores to the bottom of the neck of the jar.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar for each quart of apple peels and cores.
Cover with room temperature water leaving one inch of head space.
Cover the mouth of the jar with muslin cloth using the rubber band to keep it in place.
Put the jar back in your hiding place out of direct sunlight for about six weeks. This is when the magic will happen! Gradually, a film will begin to form on the top of the jar and this is the combination of good bacteria and yeast that is referred to as the "mother". Periodically, you can open the jars and gently swirl the mother to help it settle on the bottom of the jar and promote more growth.
After six weeks has passed you should see that the color of the liquid has deepened with jelly-like substances floating in the jar and a discernible vinegar smell. This means your homemade apple cider vinegar is ready! Swap your muslin cloth for a jar lid and store your shelf-stable ACV in a cool, dark place for indefinite use. As the vinegar matures the flavor will evolve.
Voila, you've made your own homemade apple cider vinegar for a fraction of the cost of what a good bottle would cost you at the grocery store!
A few extra tips...
If you don't have sugar on hand you can omit this from the recipe, it will just extend the length of the fermentation process.
Once you've made your own ACV with the mother you can add a bit to every future batch to speed up the fermentation process and reduce the length of time it takes to make future batches.
I use apple cider vinegar ALOT in our animal husbandry, so being able to make my own has saved me a ton of money in homestead expenses. We add a splash to baby chicks water for an immunity boost, feed free choice to our cows while they are on fresh grass to help balance the rumen, and adding a splash to our animals waterers balances the waters PH. This prevents bacteria from growing in the water and keeps our animals free from bacteria, regulating their digestive system and warding off germs that can cause respiratory issues. ACV also promotes the absorption of calcium in chickens, which is vital to have those strong egg shells.
There are a ton of benefits with ACV in human consumption, but we will leave that topic for another post!