Sunday, April 03, 2011

JOT #12: Apple cider vinegar

Once upon a time, I hardly ever used vinegar. Then I discovered its miraculous uses: dressing on salad (with oil of course), as a great hair rinse (in lieu of conditioner), for cleaning (with baking soda), and to add a kick to so many dishes.

Making vinegar at home is also a good way to save/use up/keep from spoiling foods and scraps that are just too good to waste. Case in point: a batch of fresh, homemade apple juice, which for some reason was never finished (forgotten in the back of the fridge). What to do? Make vinegar.

I've found that it's takes ages, but it's much simpler than I thought. The key to making vinegar is to let it have air at the right times. Liquids go through stages as they ferment: juice, wine/alcohol, and acid/vinegar.

To make apple cider vinegar, start with apple cider or juice. For fruits, chop the fruit and cover with water. Very sweet juice and fruits will yield better results. Make sure your cider/juice does not contain any additives and preferably isn't pasteurized. You may also wish to add sugar water instead of plain water to make fruit scrap vinegar instead, which is also faster.

Pour into a clean, sterilized glass jar, leaving an inch or two of room at the top. Close tightly and leave at room temperature for 6-8 weeks. Open periodically (weekly) to let CO2 escape. When your juice smells like strong vodka or wine, you're ready to move on.

Now leave the same jar covered but slightly open. You can leave the lid on loosely, or cover with a double layer of cheesecloth. You may wish to add "mother of vinegar" from store-bought vinegar, but this is not necessary. Keep it in a warm place but away from direct sunlight.

After a couple of weeks you'll see some stringy things that are the "mother of vinegar" made by the bacteria. Continue to allow it to ferment until you don't smell (or taste) any alcohol.

To prevent further fermenting or to make another batch, optionally filter out the mother of vinegar film from the vinegar.

No comments: