In the Kitchen
Many years ago I started to make our own apple cider vinegar. It was my first attempt at fermenting something. Then, when we bought the farm, it was fortuitous that there are 50 apple trees on the property! AND the apples from those trees were picked and taken to a vinegar plant in downtown Moscow in the mid-1900's. Here is a pic of the vinegar plant at the corner of Main and C Street in the 1920's. It was demolished in the 1950's or 60's...my sources were not precise on the demolition timing...
The neighbor said that the trees are mostly Ben Davis apples. These apples were popular in the the late 1800’s because they had good storage qualities and could be transported successfully over long distances. This means that most of the trees on our property now are over a hundred years old...no wonder they are so tall! One interesting fact that I found is that the Ben Davis apple was crossed with McIntosh to make the Cortland apple. I think you probably will not find a Ben Davis apple in your local grocery store but you may be able to locate a Cortland and McIntosh. Her is a pic I took a couple of years ago showing some of the different apples on our property...the first apple in the pic is what I would consider a Ben Davis apple. I am not sure about the other apples. The third one could be a McIntosh. There is only a couple trees that produce these more red colored apples. There are about 3 crabapple type trees (last apple). Crabapples bloom early so this is to make sure that there is plenty of blooms available for pollination in the spring.
It is easy to make your own apple cider vinegar. You just need to get some apples and it helps to start with some vinegar to inoculate the batch and get it fermenting. The sugar and pectin in apples reacts with beneficial yeast and bacteria to make the "mother". The mother is what holds all the nutrition and healing properties. If you buy some ACV from the store, make sure it says "raw" apple cider vinegar. Braggs is a popular brand that contains living mother.
Here is how I make Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Fill a half gallon jar about half full of warm (NOT HOT) water. MUST BE UNCHLORINATED WATER. If you only have chlorinated water, boil it or let it sit for 24 hours so chlorine can dissipate.
2. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve.
3. Add 2 cups of chopped apple. You can also use scraps, like peelings, to make the vinegar. I would stick to using organic apples, if possible.
4. Add 1 cup of vinegar mother.
5. Fill the rest of the way up with warm water and then place a lid on so that NO PIECES OF APPLE ARE ABOVE THE WATER LINE. I use a smaller jar as a type of lid to push the apple pieces under the water. Do not use any metal or it may corrode.
6. Cover with coffee filter and wrap towel around jar and set in a dark area that is about 70 degrees. This allows it to breath but keeps fruit flies out. Leave for 3-4 weeks.
8. Pour freshly harvested vinegar into new jars and let sit another 4 weeks to age. Again, no metal lids (I know the middle jar in this pic has a metal lid but I was gifting it to someone that was going to use it right away and I was out of plastic lids!) Now, after aging 4 weeks, the ACV is ready to use!
Some tips to make your ACV fermentation successful
Keep your ACV ferment in a different place than other ferments in your home i.e. I keep my kombucha in a closet downstairs and my ACV in a pantry upstairs.
The longer you give the vinegar to ferment, the stronger the taste and tang will be. When the vinegar is to your liking, you can put it in the refrigerator to stop the fermenting.
The length of the fermentation process will vary based on the temperature in your home. During summer, the ACV will take less time to ferment. In winter, it will likely take longer...however...we use a wood stove in our basement in the winter and it gets crazy hot down there in the winter so it just depends what the air temp is in your home...
If you see a gelatinous blob developing in the ACV, this is a “mother” and you can add it to your next ferment to get things going even faster.
Uses for ACV
Drink it! ACV is a great probiotic. It may not taste the best, but it is generally considered safe to add 1 Tablespoon of ACV to a cup of water to drink. Beware…can erode tooth enamel…I am not going to go into all the health benefits associated with ACV in this post but if you are interested in reading more, here is a link to an article by Dr. Axe that is very thorough on this subject.
Use ACV as a substitute for plain vinegar in any cooking recipe; Use ACV instead of lemon juice in homemade mayonnaise
Homemade Broth – add a tablespoon of ACV to your bones to help get the minerals outMake salad dressing:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well. Store in the refrigerator. Just before serving, shake dressing again.
Water Bath Canner or Steamer Juicer – I add a tablespoon of ACV to the water in my canner/juicer to keep the minerals from building up inside
Fruit Fly Traps – I just pour some in a small dish and keep it near my composting container on my counter. I also add a couple drops of dish soap to the dish.
Vinegar is an acid and is great for cleaning because it kills microorganisms...Make your own all-purpose cleaner with one part water and one part ACV. Use it to clean hard surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, including countertops, hard water stains, and drains.Daily Shower Cleaner
1.5 cups water
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1 teaspoon liquid dish soap (I like this kind– affiliate link)
15 drops lemon essential oil (these are my favorite essential oils ever)
15 drops melaleuca (tea tree) essential oil
Mix all the ingredients together in a quart-sized spray bottle.
Shake well, and spray onto shower surfaces every day after use.
Remember–this is designed as a maintenance spray, so I would suggest starting with a clean shower first. It won’t remove built-on grime by itself, it’ll just slow down the process.
Homemade Hair Rinses
After shampooing, just mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water, massage into your hair, and rinse off. It helps remove buildup, it also works as a natural detangler and general scalp revitalizer. Best not to use this hair rinse if you have color treated hair. Due to ACV's antimicrobial properties, it can help with alleviating dandruff.
Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and warm water with a tablespoon of Epsom salt. Soak your feet in the bath for 20 minutes. After soaking, rinse off feet and coat your feet in a hydrating cream, put on a pair of socks, and let the lotion sit on them overnight.
I love our old apple trees but, to be honest, they are not that pretty to look at...a lot of them have a bunch of dead wood in them but it is way up high to where we cannot reach it to trim it out. When there are strong winds, a few branches get blown out. We pick them up and save for the wood stove. Apple wood is amazing for the fireplace! It is a hardwood and burns crazy hot! Also, our trees are infected with codling moth and so a lot of the fruit has little bug holes in it. Luckily, we get so many apples that we can pick around the insect damage and still get lots of apples for making sauce and apple pie filling. Once the chicken coops get finished, we are hoping that we can let the chickens out under the apple trees and get them to clean up some of the debris to keep the bug population under control...we will see...I could go on and on about apples...we just love them and feel so blessed to have these old trees on the property!