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DIY Apple Cider Vinegar

By Kim Robson:

 For centuries, vinegar has been used for countless purposes: pickling, pest control, personal and household cleaning, and cooking. But did you know that vinegar, specifically apple cider vinegar (ACV), is also an ancient folk remedy? Hippocrates is said to have prescribed ACV for a variety of ailments.apple cider vinegar

Be wary of books and websites that tout amazing claims, like reversing the aging process, because many of these claims have no clinical evidence supporting them. Some (like treating lice or warts) have actually been disproven in research studies. A few of these claims, however, do have the validation of medical research. Some studies show that apple cider vinegar could help with several conditions, such as diabetes and obesity. 

Vinegar’s effect on blood sugar levels is well researched and quite promising. Studies have found that ACV may help lower glucose levels. A 2007 study followed 11 people with type 2 diabetes,and found that two tablespoons of ACV before bed resulted in lowered glucose levels the next morning by 4% to 6%. Studies in rats have shown evidence that ACV can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. In laboratory settings, ACV has killed cancer cells or slowed their growth. Vinegar has been used for weight loss for thousands of years. Another study indicated that small amounts of vinegar with food might help people feel more full. 

Of course, whenever possible, we at Green Mom love to try our hands at making stuff at home. There’s no reason why you can’t make your own ACV, complete with the “mother.”

What Is “The Mother”?

Vinegar is made through the process of fermentation. The “mother” consists of strands of enzymes and connected protein molecules with living nutrients and bacteria, similar to the “mother” in kombucha tea. It is a natural by-product of fermentation. You should see it settled atthe bottom of the bottle as sediment.  apple cider vineagr

Most of the ACV you find in the supermarket is pasteurized and highly filtered. These are finefor cleaning, but the health benefits are gone once the “mother” is filtered out and the vinegar is pasteurized. There are a few available, such as Bragg’s, that retain the “mother,” leaving the beneficial bacteria that develops during the fermentation process in the vinegar. When you make your own ACV, you can be sure that your vinegar retains this beneficial “mother.”

Don’t Waste Apple Cores and Peels

Use those peels and the cores to make apple cider vinegar. You can make apple cider vinegar from the whole apple, so don’t worry if you don’t have leftover peels or cores. If you only occasionally use apples, you can store the peels and cores in the freezer until you have enough gathered to start a batch.

Organic apples are always best, especially if you will be using the peel. If you cannot find organic apples, peel them first and discard the peel; use only the inside portion.

A Few Notes:

• The sugar in the recipe is necessary to “feed” the bacteria but most (if not all) of the sugar is fermented out. Honey does not work well.
• White scum will form on the top. This is normal. Mold, however, will spoil your ACV. Be sure that the apples stay submerged in the water. This will help prevent mold. Use a fermentation weight or even a smaller glass jar (thoroughly clean both).
• Gnats and flies love ACV, so you need to make sure your jar is well covered. However, it needs to be able to breathe and release fermentation gasses, so do not use a solid lid. Layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter work well.

Supplies & Ingredients

  • Clean, sterilized jar (wide mouth quart or half gallon pickle)
  • Organic apple scraps (enough to fill your jar ¾ full)
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Filtered water
  • Fermentation weight or small glass jar (also sterilized)
  • Cheesecloth or coffee filter
  • Rubber band or canning lid

Directions for Do-It-Yourself Apple Cider Vinegar

  1. Clean jar thoroughly with soap and hot water and let air dry.
  2. Fill jar ¾ full with apple scraps. If you are using whole apples, roughly chop them.
  3. Dissolve 2 TBSP cane sugar into 2 cups water for a quart-sized jar(Double this for the half gallon size.) You need to mix enough to completely cover the apples.
  4. Pour sugar water over apples until completely submerged.
  5. Weigh down apples with a sterilized fermentation weight or smaller glass jar. Any apples that are exposed to air could mold.
  6. Cover jar with cheesecloth or coffee filter, and secure with rubber band or canning lid.
  7. Store in a dark place with consistent room temperature. 
  8. Let sit for approximately 3 weeks. Check every few days to make sure the apples are staying submerged and no mold is growing.
  9. After 3 weeks, strain out the apple pieces and return the liquid to the jar. (The scraps will still be suitable for the compost pile.)
  10. Cover the jar with cheesecloth or coffee filter as before, and return to a dark spot for another 3-4 weeks, stirring every few days.
  11. At some point during fermentation, you will probably notice a SCOBY that forms on the top. This is the “mother.” Just leave it floating in the vinegar.
  12. When the ACV has reached your desired level of “tartness” you can seal it with a proper lid and start using it!

About Kim Robson

Kim Robson lives and works with her husband in the Cuyamaca Mountains an hour east of San Diego. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, cooking, and animals. She has written a blog since 2006 at kimkiminy.wordpress.com. Her interests include the environment, dark skies, astronomy and physics, geology and rock collecting, living simply and cleanly, wilderness and wildlife conservation, and eating locally.

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