How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar

Make apple cider vinegarWhen I first started to make apple cider vinegar, my husband gave me that you’re-overcomplicating-this-why-don’t-you-just-buy-it look.

I promise, it’s a very specific look. You can’t miss it.

I’ve never been a person to settle for the easy way of doing, well, anything, so I wasn’t bothered by something as simple as throwing some apple scraps and water in a jar, but why you would do this goes back to something very simple that Gen Xers and Millennials alike right now are realizing — we never learned these skills growing up.

So why make it yourself? Personal education. So you don’t have to buy it. So you know exactly what’s in it. So you can pass these skills down to your kids, and they’ll know how to make it too.

Every little thing I learn each year in the kitchen is a step towards bridging the generational gap in my life skills and education that so many like me seem to have. It gives me another knowledge set that applies to more than just my career or my bank account, but how I can live my life.

And you know what the best part is? Now, I don’t have to buy vinegar from the store.

The Recipe for Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Materials and Ingredients:
Apple cores, peels, and bits
Filtered water
Sugar
Large wide-mouth glass jars
Cheesecloth
Rubber bands
A long-handled wooden spoon
A big empty cabinet (worth noting, because who has a big empty cabinet anyway?)

Lehman's Own Reading 78 Apple Peeler

For quick work of peeling apples, use Lehman’s Own Reading 78 Apple Peeler. Find it at Lehmans.com

Prepping the Apples
This recipe can be made with just scraps or whole apples, depending on what you have going on. I always make vinegar right after I’m done making apple pies and flash freezing apple slices.

One thing that is of significant importance when using apples for any purpose, but least of all this one, is to ensure that you buy them organic (or get them from someone that doesn’t use pesticides), and rinse them thoroughly. The last thing we want is pesticides leaching into your ultra-beautiful, homemade apple cider vinegar.

Apples make The Dirty Dozen list of produce that contains the most pesticides, so don’t skimp here — go organic, or go home.

How to Make Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

  1. After prepping your apples, get them chopped into manageable sizes for your jars. You’ll be stirring them periodically, so make sure they’re not too big to be shifted around.
  2. Dump all of your apple bits and scraps into your jars, filling each jar at least half full.
  3. Cover the apples with filtered water completely, giving the jar a bit of a jiggling to ensure there aren’t any air pockets sneaking past you.
  4. Stir in about 1 tablespoon of sugar per quart. This is what the bacteria will be eating during the fermentation process.
  5. Your apples should be completely covered, but if they’re wanting to poke up, you can use a clean, smaller jar half-filled with water to weigh them down.
  6. Put a square of cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubberband, and put your jars in a warm, dark place, like a kitchen cabinet.
  7. Let them sit there and ferment for at least three weeks, stirring every 3-7 days or so.
  8. Once your vinegar smells like, erm, vinegar, it’s time to strain it and bottle it! Presto!

Why I Do the Crazy Things I Do
I have a lot of family and friends that give me a good-hearted laugh from time to time as they ask — “Why do you go to that trouble?”

Look, I know that even really good apple cider vinegar is only like five bucks, I know that. But what I also know is that there are several generations living in today’s world that just never learned these staple skills, and now we depend on grocery stores for everything.

I like to learn how to do things myself because in my house, self sufficiency is really important. It teaches us foundational skills that need to be learned, that need to be passed down, and it teaches us to rely less on our ability to buy things, and more on our ability to master things on our own.

Destiny Hagest and her son picking fruit

Destiny and her son picking fruit in the orchard

We create less waste too, because we’re buying less. Instead of driving to the store and buying vinegar that was shipped across the country after being bottled in a big factory, we’re reusing old jars time and time again, and refilling them with our own batches of beautiful apple cider vinegar.

Never sell yourself short on the incredible opportunity to learn something new and consume less at the same time.

About Destiny Hagest

Destiny is a freelance writer living in the mountains of small town of Montana with her family, where they raise chickens and ducks, forage and grow some of their own food, and continue to plan their off-the-grid dream home. When she’s not writing an article about homesteading or sustainability, you can catch her baking with her toddler, or staying up all night with her husband philosophizing over a glass of craft beer.