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Apple cider vinegar

 
Posts: 18
Location: Iron River MI
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Hello everyone! I’m looking for advice on how to make apple cider vinegar. I’ve tried many times now and about half the time it molded and the other half that didn’t mold just never really seemed like vinegar to me. Hardly any of the normal “tanginess” or acidity that I’m used to with Braggs. It’s almost like some weird skum water that could have been vinegar but never finished or something.

My process consists of saving apple cores (trimmed the butts and stems off and cut core away with a knife to not contaminate with my mouth)in the freezer until I have enough to work with. Then fill jars 2/3 full with the cores, dump sugar water on them, weigh them down with fermentation weights, cover with a coffee filter and set in a dark cupboard for 6 weeks. Usually when it molds it’s during this phase, before I get to straight the cores out.

Ive also added small amounts of the bottom sediment from Braggs ACV to the jars to help out with mixed results. Some jars formed a mother, almost like a SCOBY, which I’ve saved in my fridge for future use.

I’m wondering if the skins of apples have the bulk of yeast/bacteria that do the fermenting and since I use cores, I’m lacking some of the “good guys”. I would love to get consistent results because we use apple cider vinegar almost daily. Any advice is appreciated!

 
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Location: Southern Germany
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I am not a savvy vinegar maker (yet), but have successfully made about two batches.
This was when I had a lot of apples at hand and processed them together (not freezing part of it). Also lots of peels.
Maybe you could throw in some peels (non-frosted) in the end when you set up the batch?

But I think the biggest difference was that I stirred the batches daily (at least) to prevent mold. If the bubbling stops after two or three weeks, I strain the residues out and put in a cooler place, covered with some tissue/cloth. Then it can take a while (I make a taste test from time to time).

I also managed to make a bad batch once, it didn't taste like yummy vinegar, more like vinegary water. I used it for cleaning and added it to the chicken waterer. I guess it is important to have enough apple cores/peels in the mix and also enough sugar to get the fermentation going.

Maybe some of the pros will talk about their experience as well.
 
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I've used both skins and cores, whatever I have, and found not much of a difference.
I have found that the entire process takes much more than 6 weeks. I have some vinegar that had to sit at least 6 months before getting acceptable acidity.
My process is very different- open more or less to the elements (covered with a sprout bag or a coffee filter) out in the open. No serious airlock, only a pickle weight to keep things more or less submerged. Only put in the closed dark cabinet after filtering (when it is no longer actively fermenting).
 
Posts: 215
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
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We've made vinegar for over 3 decades. We always start by pressing cider from the apples (or waste parts of apples like cores). Remove all pomace - it belongs in the compost not in the vinegar ferment.  Put the cider in a gallon glass jar, leaving at least an inch of headspace, and cover with a cotton dish towel either tied or rubber-banded into place. Put in a cool, dark place - a cupboard or pantry may be just the place. Let it sit until it smells right, faster in warm weather and takes longer in cold. When done put into glass containers, no steel tops that will rust but rather plastic, glass, or rubber lids/stoppers. That's it - never added any old mother culture and for sure never any water or sugar. We even use our vinegar for canning.
 
Anita Martini
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That would be the ideal process - in an ideal world I would both have an excess of apples and a cider press. With a tiny garden and house (by US standards) this is not a given, so I have to make do with peels and cores, packed really tightly.
But as Tereza writes, it really takes its time to mature.
Today I have strained a batch that I forgot outside, and the taste is not really great right now, definitely still a bit sweet and alcoholic. I hope it will mature into a usable vinegar.
 
Tereza Okava
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100% agreed, Anita--- if I had apples (or if they weren't crazy expensive here) I'd make cider!
As it is, I use what I have to make vinegar. My best effort so far has been strawberry tops (SO. FRAGRANT.), but I also use whatever fruit I have kicking around. I would like to use beer to make vinegar but the only beer I've been willing to sacrifice so far hasnt shown me much promise for vinegar (either weiss varieties or an ale that went sour..... a good porter is $$$$ so I'm holding off. Maybe I'll use one of my hoppy IPA homebrews).
 
Brody Ekberg
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Location: Iron River MI
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Anita Martini wrote:I am not a savvy vinegar maker (yet), but have successfully made about two batches.
This was when I had a lot of apples at hand and processed them together (not freezing part of it). Also lots of peels.
Maybe you could throw in some peels (non-frosted) in the end when you set up the batch?

But I think the biggest difference was that I stirred the batches daily (at least) to prevent mold. If the bubbling stops after two or three weeks, I strain the residues out and put in a cooler place, covered with some tissue/cloth. Then it can take a while (I make a taste test from time to time).

I also managed to make a bad batch once, it didn't taste like yummy vinegar, more like vinegary water. I used it for cleaning and added it to the chicken waterer. I guess it is important to have enough apple cores/peels in the mix and also enough sugar to get the fermentation going.

Maybe some of the pros will talk about their experience as well.



Anita, you stir it every day right from the start? I was under the impression that it just sits for 6 weeks or so, then strain it, then stir daily until it reaches the desired flavor/acidity.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Location: Iron River MI
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Tereza Okava wrote:I've used both skins and cores, whatever I have, and found not much of a difference.
I have found that the entire process takes much more than 6 weeks. I have some vinegar that had to sit at least 6 months before getting acceptable acidity.
My process is very different- open more or less to the elements (covered with a sprout bag or a coffee filter) out in the open. No serious airlock, only a pickle weight to keep things more or less submerged. Only put in the closed dark cabinet after filtering (when it is no longer actively fermenting).



Tereza, do you stir it daily or do you weigh the scraps down, cover it and let it sit until it’s no longer actively fermenting? Also, what ratio sugar to water do you use to submerge the scraps in?
 
Brody Ekberg
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Location: Iron River MI
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Larisa Walk wrote:We've made vinegar for over 3 decades. We always start by pressing cider from the apples (or waste parts of apples like cores). Remove all pomace - it belongs in the compost not in the vinegar ferment.  Put the cider in a gallon glass jar, leaving at least an inch of headspace, and cover with a cotton dish towel either tied or rubber-banded into place. Put in a cool, dark place - a cupboard or pantry may be just the place. Let it sit until it smells right, faster in warm weather and takes longer in cold. When done put into glass containers, no steel tops that will rust but rather plastic, glass, or rubber lids/stoppers. That's it - never added any old mother culture and for sure never any water or sugar. We even use our vinegar for canning.



Larisa, I have access to pretty much unlimited apples but no cider press. Could I blend up cores/scraps, wrap the pile in cheesecloth and squeeze the juice that way? Seems more natural than adding sugar water to dry scraps. Also, do you stir it while it ferments or just let it sit undisturbed? And you say the process takes different amounts of time depending on temperature. Our house is mid 60s pretty constantly, should this process take like 6 weeks or like 6 months? Maybe some of my batches needed more time but after a couple months I thought they were starting to lose acidity or get weird so I capped them off and called them done. Not really vinegar but done haha.
 
Larisa Walk
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Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
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You don't need a full cider press and grinder to make cider. We've made small batches by using our Kitchen Aid with the shredder attachment although some other type of food processor will work as well. As for doing the pressing, you can even squeeze the apple shreds with your hands or press into a colander. A potato ricer can work OK too. Apples that have been allowed to set out and get soft will usually yield more juice than coming right out of cold storage. The cider is left undisturbed during fermentation. As for time needed, more like 6 weeks than 6 months. It goes from fresh to smelling wine-like fairly quickly. I call it "done" whenever it smells vinegary or when I get around to it. I don't think it matters if it sits longer. If it evaporates a bit of fluid the acidity whould just get stronger not weaker.
 
Tereza Okava
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Brody Ekberg wrote:
Tereza, do you stir it daily or do you weigh the scraps down, cover it and let it sit until it’s no longer actively fermenting? Also, what ratio sugar to water do you use to submerge the scraps in?


Brody- i've done it both ways, swirling/sloshing once a day and covering. My results were the same. I tend to forget to stir, but I often don't have a pickle stone available so it sort of depends what my circumstances are.
As for sugar, I've done it with a quarter cup sugar per quart of warm water (the same proportion I used for kombucha) and done it without sugar at all but with lots more scraps. Sugar makes it move faster, but it's still not speedy by any means.
This blog, which was where I originally got the idea for the strawberry vinegar, is helpful if a tad fussier than how we roll.
http://hipgirls.squarespace.com/blog/2013/5/4/home-fermented-strawberry-vinegar.html
 
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Location: Zone 9A, 45S 168E, 329m Queenstown, NZ
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I've only made acv with cores and peels and have only ever had mold issues if the container was not scrupulously clean. I wash the container thoroughly (a food grade bucket or large glass jar depending on the quantity of peels and cores) and rinse with boiling water before adding the peel and cores. I only barely cover the peels with water and use a plate to keep them submerged. It is then covered with a large napkin and loosely tied down to stop bugs getting in. Every couple of days, i lift the napkin and use a wooden spoon to press the plate down but have never bothered to stir the peel. It usually ferments without having to add any sugar. The resulting vinegar is not as strong as commercially made vinegar but i use it for salad dressings and to drink. If any white mold forms thats not a problem - its the blue grey molds that spoil the vinegar but as Anita mentioned, that batch can be kept for cleaning.
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Anita Martini
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

Anita, you stir it every day right from the start? I was under the impression that it just sits for 6 weeks or so, then strain it, then stir daily until it reaches the desired flavor/acidity.


I looked at several websites and then more or less followed a recipe on a German blog (https://www.smarticular.net/apfelessig-und-anderen-fruchtessig-ganz-einfach-selbst-herstellen/) which recommends to stir until the other smell changes to slightly acid and the fruit chunks sink down.
Then strain and let mature.
But you have received lots of good answers in the meantime.
Good luck!
 
Tereza Okava
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Anita Martini wrote:to stir until the other smell changes to slightly acid and the fruit chunks sink down.
Then strain and let mature.


This is what I mean by letting it sit out til it`s done actively fermenting. Then I strain it out, close it up, and then put it away.
 
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