It’s apple season in many parts of North America which will continue through the Fall. Time to take advantage of the seasonal bounty and make some raw apple cider vinegar! If you don’t have locally grown apples available in your community, a bag of organic apples from the healthfood store or veggie co-op will work just fine.
Unpasteurized, or raw apple cider vinegar is expensive, so making your own is very thrifty. A typical quart of organic, raw apple cider vinegar will run you just under $5 at most healthfood stores. You can make a whole gallon, four times that amount, yourself for about the same price or even less if you use apple scraps that you were going to throw out or compost anyway.
Which Apples Make the Best Raw Apple Cider Vinegar?
A mixture of apples produces the best tasting and most healthful raw apple cider vinegar.
If you are new to the process, try these approximate ratios for your first batch or two and then change it up from there to your own personal liking:
- 50% sweet apples (Golden Delicious, Fuji (my fave), Gala, Red Delicious)
- 35% sharp tasting apples (McIntosh, Liberty, Winesap, Northern Spy, Gravenstein)
- 15% bitter tasting apples (Dolgo crabapples, Newtown, Foxwhelp, Porter’s Perfection, Cortland)
In my neck of the woods, bitter tasting apples are hard to find. If this is your predicament as well, simply increase the proportion of sweet apples to 60% and the sharp tasting apples to 40%. While the flavor of this mixture won’t be as complex as with the inclusion of some bitter apples, it will still taste fine.
If all you have is a single apple tree in the backyard, however, feel free to use just that one variety to make your raw apple cider vinegar!
Uses for Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
The uses for raw apple cider vinegar are seemingly endless. It’s widely used in homemade tonics, recipes and even for cleaning. I like to use it for an ACV detox bath (1 quart to a tubful of warm water). Friends of mine use raw apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse or for hair detoxing.
Pasteurized apple cider vinegar doesn’t have the same benefits as raw apple cider vinegar does as valuable vitamins, probiotics and enzymes are destroyed by the heating process. If you are going to go to the trouble of making apple cider vinegar, always make it raw for maximum benefits.
How to Make Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Makes approximately 1 gallon
5 large apples of choice or the scraps of 10 apples
1 cup raw, local honey or organic cane sugar (find it here)
1 wide mouth gallon glass jar (I like these)
Cheesecloth or floursack cloth (I use these)
Large rubber band
Before you can make your raw apple cider vinegar, you must first make hard apple cider. The alcohol in the hard cider is what transforms via fermentation into acetic acid, which is the beneficial organic compound that gives apple cider vinegar its sour taste.
Nature is amazing!
Wash the apples and coarsely chop into pieces no smaller than 1 inch. Cores, stems and seeds may be included.
Put the chopped apples into a 1 gallon, clean, wide mouth, glass jar. The chopped apples should at least fill half the container and maybe a bit more. If at least half the container is not filled, add additional apple scraps until you achieve this level as a minimum.
Pour in room temperature filtered water until the chopped apples are completely covered and the container is just about full leaving a couple of inches at the top.
Stir in the raw honey or cane sugar until fully dissolved.
Cover the top of the glass jar with cheesecloth, a thin white dishtowel or floursack cloth and secure with a large rubber band.
Leave on the counter for about 1-2 weeks, gently mixing once or twice a day. Bubbles will begin to form as the sugar ferments into alcohol. You will smell this happening.
When the apple scraps no longer float and sink to the bottom of the jar after approximately one week, the hard apple cider is ready. If for some reason, the apple pieces still do not sink to the bottom after 2 weeks but the mixture smells alcoholic, proceed to the next step anyway.
Strain out the apple scraps and pour the hard apple cider into a fresh 1 gallon glass jar or smaller sized mason jars of your choosing.
Cover with a fresh piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubberband.
Leave on the counter in an out of the way spot for an additional 3-4 weeks to allow the alcohol to transform into acetic acid by the action of acetic acid bacteria (these are the good guys!). A small amount of sediment on the bottom is normal. In addition, a mother culture will form on top, similar to what happens when making kombucha.
Taste your raw apple cider vinegar to determine if it is ready starting after 3 weeks. If it has the right level of vinegar taste for you, strain it one more time and store in clean, glass mason jars or jugs. If after 4 weeks, the taste still isn’t quite strong enough, leave it for another week and try again. If you accidentally leave it too long and the taste is too strong, just strain and dilute with some water to a level of acidity that pleases you.
Use as desired and store in the pantry out of direct sunlight.
Raw apple cider vinegar doesn’t go bad, but if you leave it for a long time, another mother culture will likely form on top. This is fine, just strain it again if desired and dilute with a bit of water if the taste has become too strong.
Hint: Your homemade batch of apple cider vinegar can be used not only in the kitchen, but also as a vinegar bath (2 cups per tubful) to greatly aid detoxification.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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