Touted for centuries as a cure for wide array of ailments, apple cider vinegar has made its way to the majority of supermarket shelves and health-supply stores in the past several years. Its ever-increasing popularity has prompted many people to make homemade apple cider vinegar on their own as a way to add flavor to soups and salads as well as condiments for sandwiches.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is an ingredient created by a process called fermentation, in which sugars are broken down and transformed into alcohol by bacteria and yeast. Continued fermentation causes the alcohol to further break down into vinegar, which is characterized by a pungent smell and a tangy taste. Although vinegar itself can come from a variety of different fruits and vegetables, apple cider vinegar is specifically created by pulverizing apples.
How to make homemade apple cider vinegar
You can make apple cider vinegar in your very own kitchen. Because green apples don't contain enough sugar to be suitable when making homemade apple cider vinegar, you should begin with a batch of ripened red varieties typically found in the fall. Wash and quarter the apples, carefully removing the pits and seeds. Continue by crushing the quartered pieces and straining the pulp through a sizable chunk of cheesecloth, reserving the apple juice in a large glass container.
Once you've crushed enough apples to get five gallons of apple juice, separate one quart of juice from the rest. To activate the process of fermentation, place a cube of wine-making yeast into the individual quart of juice and mix the substances together thoroughly. This "starter mix" can now be added to the remaining container of apple juice and mixed well to begin the fermentation process. Next, pour the mixture into several smaller glass containers. Cover the top of each container with a piece of cheesecloth and store the containers in a room with a constant temperature of 60 to 80 degrees F.
In order to make homemade apple cider vinegar properly, you will need to remove the makeshift cheesecloth lids once each day and carefully stir the mixture in each container. Taste the fermented mixture at around the three-week mark to determine whether the vinegar is strong enough for your liking. Once you've reached the desired fermentation level, strain the containers of mixture back into one large jug by pouring them through several layers of cheesecloth with very tiny holes.
Once your homemade apple cider vinegar has been strained, it needs to be pasteurized, a process that can be accomplished simply by heating it on your stove top in a stainless steel pot over a medium-low temperature of around 140 degrees F. Remove the pot from the stove top immediately once it reaches the desired temperature. Store the apple cider vinegar in glass containers with air-tight lids. Allow the containers to cool before placing them in a cool and dry location away from direct sunlight.
Herbal vinegars are a culinary delight. They can be used to cook or drizzled straight out of the bottle as a healthy alternative to salad dressing, and they make wonderful homespun gifts.
Vinegar was a great accident. It's been around for as long as there has been fermented beverages, such as wine, beer, champagne and sake. The French named it, as "vin" means "wine" and "aigre" means "sour."