Apple cider vinegar is an all-natural product that has countless uses. It is made through the process of fermentation and is high in strands of proteins, enzymes, friendly bacteria, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium and many other healthful ingredients.
People have used it for centuries in cooking, cleaning and disinfecting, and in traditional medicine for treating nail fungus, warts, parasites and infections. Even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds and prescribed it for various of ailments more than 2,000 years ago.
Because apple cider vinegar consists of acetic acid, it can help kill pathogens, including harmful bacteria. It helps regulates blood sugar levels and is often used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Other proven beneficial uses of apple cider vinegar are promoting in weight loss, aiding with indigestion and heartburn, improving heart health, boosting skin health, and more.
So how easy is to make this super substance with nearly endless applications?
Well, very easy!
All you need is apples (or really just the apple peels and cores), sugar, and water. It also helps to have one of our Bacillus Bulgaricus starters handy as these contain the same beneficial bacteria that make the fermentation happen, so adding some of the starter to your cider jump starts the whole process on the right foot.
Here’s how to make apple cider vinegar.
Clean jar – any size jar (or any container) is ok, depending on how much apple cider vinegar you’d like to make. Best to use a glass jar as stainless steel don’t go well together with acidic substances.
Cheesecloth – coffee filter, or really any towel or paper towel will work too. You need these to prevent fruit flies and impurities from the air from entering your cider.
Elastic band – to secure the above.
Fermentation weight – this could be anything that fits in your jar’s opening and its only purpose is to keep the apple scraps submerged. I use small coffee cup plates for example.
Apples – or scraps, peels or cores
Sugar – cane sugar is best but any would do
Water – filtered is best but tap would work too, just leave it for a couple of hours in the sunlight so any chlorine in it can break down.
A pack of Bacillus Bulgaricus starter. You don’t really have to add this, the vinegar will turn out even without it, but it does help with fermentation and makes your apple cider vinegar taste better. A 2 gram pack is enough for 5L of vinegar. Best to use the Bulgarian, Greek or Skyr starter.
Making the Cider
You can make your apple cider with any apples. The apples you choose will shape the flavor of your finished vinegar. Best to mix sweet types of apples with tarter tasting ones but really any apples would do just fine. If you don’t want to use whole apples, simply save scraps from the apples you eat, keep those around (in the freezer) until you have enough to make the apple cider vinegar.
Wash your apples, cut in pieces (wedges, cubes), and add to the jar. Don’t add whole apples, cutting them in pieces exposes more apple area to fermentation and you get much better results. You can use any number of apples you want to make the cider but best is to use just enough to fill about 1/3 of your jar.
Fill the jar to the top with water. Do it with cups so you know how much water you added. You’ll need that to calculate how much sugar you need.
Add sugar to the jar. You need a tablespoon of sugar (15 grams) for every two cups of water (400ml) you used. Let’s say you ended up adding 4 liters of water to your jar, so you need to add 150g of sugar. Don’t worry if you put more, it will be consumed by the bacteria during fermentation. Putting less sugar is also not a problem, your cider vinegar will just take more time to turn out.
Add the Bacillus Bulgaricus starter. Stir well so sugar and starter dissolve.
Your apples will float, so use that weight to press them down so they are fully submerged. That’s important. You don’t want your apples exposed to air as they may rot, mold or develop unwanted bacteria.
Cover the jar with the cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band in a way that air can get in. This will keep everything outside of the jar out of it and at the same time let out the gases produced during the fermentation process.
Fermenting the Cider into Vinegar
Keep the jar in a dark place away from direct sunlight. Find a warmer place somewhere that you can leave the vinegar to ferment for a long time. It will need several weeks to ferment so it’s best left undisturbed during that time.
Stir the cider once a day in the first two weeks, then you can start stirring it once every couple of days if once a day is too often for you. No need to worry if you miss a day – as long as you keep moving the mixture around regularly, you should be ok. Stirring the cider helps the fermentation process and prevents yeasts and molds from forming on the surface. You can stir with anything you’d like. Some people recommend using a wooden spoon but I haven’t noticed any difference in results based on what I used to stir it with.
As you stir every day, keep an eye out for bubbles indicating the fermentation process is happening. They should start appearing within 3-4 days but may take longer depending on your ambient temperature. If you notice any foam or scum forming on top of the surface, skim it off and discard it. When you are done with the stirring, put back the weight so your apples are submerged and close the jar with the cheesecloth again.
Do this until your apples sink to the bottom of the jar. This should happen after about 10-14 days. This indicates that the apples have fermented and are no longer needed for the process of making vinegar.
Strain the cider using a cheesecloth or a fine mesh, discard the apples and all other particles that you strained, and pour the clear cider back into the jar. Then again cover with a cheesecloth, secure with a rubber band and place it back in the same place to continue fermenting.
Leave the cider to ferment for 3 to 6 weeks, stirring every few days. It will now slowly turn into apple cider vinegar. Stir the jar every 3 – 4 days, just to move the vinegar around and prevent unwanted yeast formations on the surface. It will slowly start to smell like a vinegar.
The longer you keep fermenting it, the more acidic it will get and the stronger its taste will become. You can taste it every few days until you reach the taste and acidity you want.
Once the tang and taste of the vinegar is where you want it, pour it into bottles, jars, or any container you want to store it in. Best to use glass bottles or other glass containers so they don’t react with the acidity of the vinegar. Cap and close them tight to stop the fermentation process for long term storage and keep them at room or colder temperature. Apple cider vinegar stores well fresh for years.
Enjoy your own apple cider vinegar!