Do you use apple cider vinegar regularly? It’s one of the most versatile vinegars out there, but is often one of the pricier ones at the grocery or health food store.
Fortunately, it’s easy to make something similar at home from leftover apple parts! In this article, we’re going to teach you how to make your own apple scrap vinegar from peels, trimmings, and cores.
What is Apple Scrap Vinegar?
Although apple scrap vinegar may taste similar to the apple cider vinegar you’re familiar with, the two are quite different.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made by brewing cider from apples. But instead of fermenting into alcoholic beverages, it sours to vinegar. In contrast, apple scrap vinegar involves immersing leftover apple pieces in water and allowing the contents to ferment.
The result is a wonderfully tart vinegar that can be used in countless applications. It may not have the depth of flavor of regular ACV, but it’s delicious and versatile, and ensures that nothing in your kitchen has gone to waste.
What You’ll Need to Make Apple Scrap Vinegar
Aim for a 70:30 ratio of sweet to tart apples when making apple scrap vinegar. Not only will the extra sugar content hasten fermentation, but you’ll also end up with much tastier vinegar once it’s done.
Some of the sweetest apple varieties include ‘Honeycrisp,’ ‘Gala,’ ‘Fuji,’ ‘Golden Delicious,’ ‘Ambrosia,’ ‘Fuji,’ ‘Jazz,’ ‘Cripps,’ ‘Braeburn,’ and ‘Envy.’
We estimate that you’ll need the scraps of about a dozen apples for this recipe, but that depends entirely on the sizes you’re working with. For example, if you only have small apples, you’ll need more.
- A four-gallon jar or four individual quart jars, sterilized.
- Clean, sterile utensils such as paring knives, spoons, bowls, and cutting boards.
- The peels, trimmings, and cores of about a dozen apples.
- Two tablespoons white sugar.
- Unchlorinated water. If you’re using municipal tap water, let a jug sit on the counter for at least 24 hours so any chlorine will dissipate. Otherwise, it’ll suppress fermentation.
- Either two tablespoons of raw ACV or parts of the “mother” from a bottle of ACV. This is entirely optional. It will speed up the fermentation process and add both extra nutrients and flavor to your vinegar, but it isn’t necessary.
- Cheesecloth and rubber bands.
- Fermentation weights or similar. You’ll need to weigh down the contents of your jar(s) so they don’t go moldy. If you don’t have fermentation weights, you can sterilize some glass marbles and wrap them in food-grade plastic wrap or a sterilized plastic zipper bag and tuck that into the jar to weigh down the apple bits.
Try to use organic, pesticide-free apples whenever possible! If you aren’t sure where yours came from, soak them in equal parts water and ACV for 15 minutes to remove whatever may be clinging to their peels.
Additionally, when making vinegar from apple scraps, it’s crucial that you don’t toss in any bits that have been chewed on. Cut away any areas with saliva on them, or pour a bit of boiling water over them.
If any oral bacteria is clinging to those bits, they’ll contaminate the vinegar as it ferments.
Step 1: Gather Your Apple Bits
Use a sterile bowl or plastic container to collect the trimmings of that dozen or so apples.
This is something ideal to do if you’re making apple pie, or a crumble, or any type of preserves. If you’re only making things a bit at a time, freeze these off-cuts until you have enough to make a batch with.
Once you’ve collected enough, transfer all of them to your sterilized one-gallon jar or divide them between four sterilized quart canning jars.
Step 2: Soak It
In a sterile measuring cup, mix your sugar with a bit of unchlorinated water and stir until dissolved. You’ll either pour all of this into your large jar or divide it equally between the four canning jars full of apple bits.
Once you’ve done that, add more water until all the apple pieces are completely covered. If you’re going to add a bit of raw ACV (or mother from the vinegar bottle) to each jar, now’s the time to do so.
Step 3: Stir and Set Aside
Give everything a good stir with a clean spoon, and allow it to settle. Once it’s calmed, add your fermentation weights to ensure complete liquid coverage.
Then, cover your jar or jars with cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. This will keep fruit flies from kamikaze diving into your vinegar as it’s fermenting.
Step 4: Let it Bubble
Place your jar or jars on a countertop or cupboard, and let the fermentation magic unfold. Depending on the room’s temperature, you should start seeing bubbles form after 48-72 hours. Stir this once a day to ensure that nothing gets moldy.
Step 5: Strain
After about two weeks, your apple scrap vinegar will calm down with the bubbling activity. This is known as “sitting still” and signals that it’s time for you to strain out the solids.
Use a clean, sterile colander lined with cheesecloth to strain the apple bits from your developing vinegar. Make sure that the container you’re straining into is also sterile.
Once all the solids have been removed, transfer the strained liquid into a new, clean, sterile jar (or multiple jars). Cover with cheesecloth again and set back on the counter to continue maturing.
Compost the scraps.
Step 6: Bottle It Up
It’ll take another couple of weeks for your vinegar to stop fizzing completely. This means it’s not actively fermenting and releasing CO2, which means you can store it safely in a closed jar or bottle without it exploding. Yay!
The vinegar should have been fermenting for about a month at this point and should have developed a good flavor. Taste it to see how you like it.
If you’re happy with it, pop a lid on the jar or jars, or transfer the liquid to clean, sterilized bottles. If you want it to be a bit more sour or acidic, leave it on the counter for a few more days until bottling it.
This vinegar’s acidity will increase over time whether it’s bottled or not, but you’ll likely end up using it long before it gets too acrid to be palatable.
Step 7: Store It
This vinegar will stay good in the fridge or cold cellar for up to a year, but as mentioned, it will get more acidic over time.
Keep a lid on the bottle or jar, but aim to pop the lid off every one to two weeks to release any CO2 that may still be building up. The last thing you need is to clean up leaking or exploded vinegar from your fridge or pantry shelves.
How to Use Your Vinegar
You can use this apple scrap vinegar in the same way you’d use ACV. For example:
- For the primary ingredient for fire cider.
- As a menstruum for non-alcoholic herbal tincture extractions or shrubs.
- For an all-purpose surface cleaner.
- In salad dressings and other recipes.
- As a hair rinse/conditioner.
- In an insect-repelling spray.
Just keep in mind that although this vinegar is quite tasty, make sure that you never use it for canning or pickling to preserve your harvest.
The pH in homemade vinegar can vary significantly between batches, and may not be strong enough to kill off E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and other potentially harmful bacteria.
If you cook or bake with apples often, make batches of apple scrap vinegar throughout the year! Not only will you ensure that little goes to waste on your homestead, but you’ll ensure that you have an ample supply of multi-purpose vinegary goodness at hand at all times.