Apple cider vinegar has a multitude of uses around the homestead, and if you’re not making it yet, you’ll want to pay attention to this guide.
You can easily make a gallon of vinegar for less than those quart-size bottles you buy at the store (I personally don’t make that much at once, but I include it as an example of how frugal making your own cider is).
I make apple cider vinegar with the leftover apple scraps when I make applesauce. Instead of throwing my cores and peels into the pot when making applesauce, I save them (no need to strain the applesauce later) and use them for apple cider vinegar. If you make a lot of pies, you can use the scraps from those apples, too.
Apple scraps, honey (or other sweetener) and water is all you need to start making your own apple cider vinegar. It really is that simple.
I start with the scraps from 6 lbs of Red Delicious apples. Some recipes suggest using sour apples, some suggest mixing sweet apples with tart apples, etc., but I’ve found it doesn’t really matter. Since I use scraps leftover from making applesauce, my vinegar is usually made with sweet apples.
You want to use a sterilized mason jar (because what would home brewing be without a mason jar?), to make your apple cider vinegar to keep nasties away. There’s detailed directions here.
Put your apple pieces in your mason jar, leaving a couple inches or so at the top of the jar.
Mix your honey and water together, and pour over the apple scraps. The apple needs to be covered completely, and should stay submerged. Use a weight if necessary.
Cover the opening of the mason jar with a cheese cloth (a brand new cloth diaper works also!) and tie with a rubber band or a string. The cheese cloth is super important – it keeps out contaminants.
Let the mixture sit for two weeks. It will turn into apple cider as the apples ferment.
If scum forms at the top – don’t worry! As long as the cider smells ok, the scum is harmless. Of course, if your mixture smells funny or moldy, throw it out and start over.
When the apples get to the fermentation stage, strain out the apple scraps, and return the liquid to the jar. Let it sit for another 4-6 weeks until it smells like vinegar. It’s unmistakable!
If it doesn’t smell like vinegar yet, let it sit until it does. The longer it sits, the more sour it will get.
Pretty simple, huh?
Ok, so why homemade Apple Cider Vinegar?
Savings aside, making your own vinegar has several advantages, not the least of which is you’re finding a use for something (apple scraps) you’d otherwise throw away or compost. If it can be used around the house, why not?
You’re getting pure, undiluted ACV, and if you use organic apples, it will also be organic. When you make it yourself, you know it’s origins, and that it’s the real deal, unfiltered and raw.
If you’re going to be consuming it, you’ll want to know where your ACV came from, and that it’s pure ACV.
ACV In Cooking
These are some of my favorite uses in cooking:
- Use it instead of regular vinegar in marinades to lend a different flavor.
- Include in a salad dressing instead of balsalmic vinegar
- Make cheese using apple cider vinegar and milk (these days I’m looking for any way to use milk)
- Add it to rice when cooking (add at beginning so it’s not quite so vinegary)
Like anything fermented, ACV contains natural enzymes and nutrients that nourish your body and reintroduces any lost nutrients. Consuming these goodies will lead to better heath.
By combining 1/2 a gallon of milk (I used raw goat milk) with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, you can make a sort of ricotta. It has a mild flavor, so it would work well with fruit, or in any recipe that uses ricotta or a softer cheese.
Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar Around the Homestead
Because of the nutrients, ACV is great to add to your chickens’ water. It aids in digestion as well. It has antibiotic properties, which will not only deter nasties in their water, but in their bodies as well. I dilute 1 tablespoon with 1 gallon of water.
ACV is also a popular homemade cleaner because of its antibiotic properties – there’s a printable at the end of this article with recipes to make your own household cleaners using ACV.
Making your own apple cider is so easy, with so many uses, you’re just hankering to try it now, aren’t you?
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.