Making Vinegar

As I was about to write my post on making vinegar, a very important recipe — I feel anyway, I came across: http://www.rural-revolution.com/2013/07/making-fruit-scrap-vinegar.html

This is a repost of her blog as it is just so well done. For sure, there is nothing to which I can add.

Making fruit scrap vinegar

Last fall, I embarked on a new experiment: making vinegar from fruit scraps. The reason I didn’t blog about it at the time was (a) it’s a long drawn-out process, not a single-day project, so I couldn’t really blog about it until I was finished; and (b) I had in mind an article for Backwoods Home Magazine so I didn’t want to spill the beans ahead of time. My editor at the magazine has given me the green light on the article (which I submitted today), so these photos will allow her to choose which ones she wants to illustrate the article. Some of the photos are near-duplicates (same shot, different angles, etc.) so she can choose which ones she likes best.

Fruit scrap vinegar is just that — vinegar made from fruit scraps. It’s an excellent way to make something useful out of what would otherwise end up on the compost pile. I got this notion after a long day of canning apples when I had a big pile of peels and cores and bruised fruit pieces left over. At first I was just going to toss them all on the compost pile, but somewhere in the back of my mind I had heard about making fruit vinegar, so I decided to give it a try.

(Photo 361)

Actually I first got the notion of making fruit vinegar after canning 125 lbs. of peaches, but unfortunately not until after I’d thrown all those scraps onto the compost pile (what a waste!). I had to settle with making peach vinegar from a small amount of peach peels we saved from eating fresh fruit.

Anyway, back to apples. I put the scraps into a plastic food-grade bakery bucket.

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The first step, fermentation, requires some sugar. I carefully measured the water…

(Photo 374)

…and the sugar that I mixed in. The ratio is one quart water: 1/4 cup sugar (or one gallon water:1 cup sugar).

(Photo 375)
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Then I poured the sugar water over the apple scraps.

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I covered the bucket with a square of clean old sheeting…

(Photo 381)

…and secured it with a large rubber band.

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Then I put the buckets on the floor in the kitchen and let them sit for several weeks. The cloth kept out fruit flies, among other things.

(Photo 516)

This is the fermentation stage, the first stage for making vinegar. You can tell the fermentation is happening because little bubbles of carbon dioxide form and pop. I could sit in a chair and hear the bubbles quietly popping from several feet away.

I made a smaller batch of fruit vinegar from peach peels using a gallon jar.

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Since I was making several different types of vinegars, I labeled and dated each type.

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Here are the apple scraps after two weeks of fermentation. Now it was time for the second stage, the acidification.

(Photo 508)

I drained the scraps with a colander…

(Photo 509)

…and saved the fermented juice.

(Photo 510)

Before letting the juice acidify, I strained it one more time, through a cloth.

(Photo 513)
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Energized by all this frugal recycling of scraps, I decided to also make vinegar out of the massive amounts of fruit waste left over from canning pears.

(Photo 473)

Here are the pear scraps after two weeks of fermentation. I didn’t add enough sugar water at the beginning of this process, so the fruit, while moist and fermented, didn’t have a lot of spare juice for draining.

(Photo 624)

There was so little juice that it didn’t really “drain” with a colander.

(Photo 625)

So I had to come up with some other idea for extracting the fermented juice. I took an old clean pillowcase and filled it with the fermented fruit scraps…

(Photo 629)

…and tried suspending it in the barn over a bucket. (It didn’t really work.)

(Photo 634)

When that didn’t work, I divvied up the pear scraps into two pillowcases and suspended them in the kitchen over a bowl overnight. That worked better.

(Photo 631)
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When draining fermented fruit scraps, the operative word is patience. You can’t really hurry it along by squeezing. Believe me, I tried.

(Photo 632)

After the pear scraps drained overnight, I strained the juice through a clean cloth once more.

(Photo 626)

Then I set the different jars of fermented juice on the counter for several weeks, to let them acidify into vinegar. You can see how the different fruits gave slightly different colored vinegar. It smelled lovely.

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The proto-vinegar formed a scum on top. This is the “mother” and should not be removed.

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After about three weeks of sitting on the kitchen counter, I decided the vinegar was done. In retrospect I learned I could have let it sit up to six months if I wanted to, though by this point I was tired of those jars cluttering my limited counter space.

To preserve the vinegar, I could do one of three things: (1) put it in sterile jars and cap with a cork or plastic lid (not metal); (2) pasteurize it using jars with corks or plastic lids; or (3) can it.

I decided to can the fruit vinegar to preserve it indefinitely; but the only reason I could do this was because I use plastic Tattler canning lids. I couldn’t use disposable metal lids because the acid in the vinegar would corrode the metal lids after awhile.

So I poured the vinegar into quart jars.

(Photo 124)

Can you see the subtle differences in color? Left to right is apple, pear, and two jars of peach vinegar.

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Then I canned the vinegar in a water-bath for fifteen minutes.

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The result: fourteen quarts of beautiful fragrant fruit vinegar. You might call it the ultimate in recycling waste!

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To re-cap, here are the steps for making fruit vinegar:

• Take fruit scraps (peels, cores, bruised unusable fruit, etc) and put in a glass jar, food-grade plastic container, or ceramic crock. Chop up the larger pieces for faster results.
• Cover the fruit scraps generously with sugar water. The sugar water should be in a ratio of 1 quart water: ¼ cup sugar. Over time the scraps may swell, so be generous in the amount of sugar water.
• Cover with cheesecloth or other thin cloth and secure with a rubber band or cord.
• Allow to ferment for at least two weeks or until the bubbles stop forming.
• Strain out the fruit scraps and preserve the juice in a new clean container (glass jars work well).
• Cover with cheesecloth or other thin cloth and secure with a rubber band or cord.
• Allow this fermented juice to acidify for several weeks or even months.
• Strain through several layers of damp cloth into clean sterile jars, and use either a cork or a plastic lid to close the jar.
• If desired, pasteurize or even water-bath can the vinegar.

A Few Tips
• The smaller the fruit waste, the faster the fermentation. While the scraps don’t have to be pulverized, you might want to chop up the really big stuff.
• Oxidized (browned) scraps seem to make a better vinegar than fresh scraps. This isn’t hard to do, as presumably the scraps are sitting by and quietly oxidizing while you’re busy processing the whole fruit.
• Do not use metal containers while fermenting the fruit or acidifying the juice. Some people also say you should avoid plastic, but I used plastic bakery buckets during the fermenting stage and had no problems. If you use plastic, it should be food-grade. Glass jars or ceramic crocks are also wonderful.
• If your fruit is not organic, it would be best to scrub or wash the fruit before peeling so the peels won’t have pesticide residue during the fermentation process.
• The wider the mouth, the more wild bacteria will be captured, and the faster the fermentation process will happen.
• If you see a scum forming on top, don’t disturb it; this is the mother. Eventually the mother will sink toward the bottom and continue its work. However if you see mold forming on top, by all means skim that off. Mother isn’t moldy; it’s scummy.
• If you have chlorinated city tap water, you might want to purchase distilled water to use for vinegar since the chemicals in urban water can kill or contaminate the “mother.”
Homemade vinegar should NOT be used for canning pickles or other fermented food. Vinegar for canning needs to be at 5% acidity level, and homemade vinegar varies wildly in its acid content. Even pH test strips cannot accurately gauge proper acidity levels in homemade vinegar.
• If you want to speed up the fermentation process, you can add about a cup of Bragg’s Vinegar (or other natural unfiltered vinegar, often found in health food stores) to “seed” the fermenting fruit with mother. You can also purchase “Mother of Vinegar” from such places as Lehmans.com.

Making fruit vinegar allows you to utilize the fruits of summer – from beginning to end. Enjoy

 

 

36 thoughts on “Making Vinegar

  1. When I made this a couple of years ago I used the pomace left over from pressing the apples for juice. It seemed to come out just the same as the juice from pressing jucier scraps. We composted them afterwards so we got three uses from them.

    I found room to ferment it by hiding it behind the books on the office bookshelf. We did have an attack of fruit flies once (as my gauze was big enough to let them through) but otherwise no problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Emma@ Misfit Gardening

    What a great idea to get another useful product before the scraps head to the compost bin! I love the idea of using these as natural cleaners around the home and in salad dressings. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

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  6. This is great! I was a little disappointed that it’s not recommended for using in pickling, but I’m looking forward to trying it. I’d love to make my own for drinking and cleaning if nothing else.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful. I made pear vinegar every year and last year I tried for the first time elderberry flower/honey vinegar. It is really fragrant.
    Instead of sugar I used resins. One thing i did not do. I did not boil the jars. I will do it this year.
    Thank you for posting this. You are a well of information.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Clan Against the Grain and commented:
    For my first attempt at “re-blogging” I thought I would post this excellent how-to post on making vinegar at home using fruit scraps. I never realized how incredibly easy this whole process could be and will have to make it a point to give it a try sometime.

    Liked by 2 people

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