I recently (well, not that recently – last autumn, in fact) began to make my own cider vinegar again after a number of years away from it as a hobby, and thought I would share with you my thoughts and recipes for the process, as well as how I feel it is helping me personally having cider vinegar as a part of my daily diet.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Cottage Method
You will need:
Plenty of apple peel
Water to cover
Vinegar mother from the last batch (optional)
A crock pot or covered bucket
Cider vinegar is actually ridiculously easy to make. Simply peel and core your apples, and put the peel and core (not the fruit) into the pot or bucket, then pour in just enough water to cover the fruit. Put the lid on, and put it in a warm, dark place, stirring every day or two. The resulting glop looks like something a witch might cook up in her cauldron, but don’t be deceived or put off by the greyish foam that the brewing vinegar will generate – the resulting vinegar will be delightful, trust me! The longer you leave it to ferment, the stronger the vinegar will be. My last lot was left for about three months, stirring whenever I remembered (which truthfully wasn’t very often…) The resulting vinegar could be stronger so I will use more peels and cores next time, but the flavour is divine. When it has finished fermenting, filter out the apple peel and cores – I used a sieve for this, as I wanted to keep the vinegar mother in the finished vinegar (its this part that has all the lovely malic acid and other nutrients in that make this such a valuable kitchen ally!). Bottle and label.
You can use this in salad dressings, for cooking, for making herbal vinegars… use your imagination. I actually rather enjoy mine in a cup of hot water with cinnamon and honey added – aside from the fact that this kicks my rather sluggish system into action quite effectively, it is about the only reliable way of sorting out constipation that I have found thus far, and is even more reliable than the beloved prunes that I used to swear by! Simply add a slosh (or around a tablespoon if you want to be more precise, but where’s the fun in that??) to a cup of water that has been boiled up with about a half teaspoon of cinnamon. You can use either powder or bark for this, whichever you have to hand. Stir in a teaspoon of honey – local is best as it has all its natural local goodness in it. Sip first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Combine with plenty of whole fibre in the diet as a way of really sorting out the digestive system! I was actually rather dubious about this concoction the first time I had it, but on smelling it, all my worries evaporated – it smells sharp, like the essence of autumn in a cup, and tastes surprisingly delicious! I wonder if the smell is part of what stimulates the vagus nerve which then stimulates the digestion, as it smells a good deal sharper than it tastes. Still, that is a pondering session for another day! I shall be making about double the amount of cider vinegar this autumn as I’ve already got through most of last autumn’s haul. You can use the fruit itself for pies, crumbles, stewed fruit, puddings, etc etc etc – nothing like the delight of using the whole fruit!