Things have been a bit crazy lately, weather wise. Some severe storms have blown across our area and, while we have pretty much just caught the edges of them, they still resulted in internet outages and our power flickering in and out.
Perfect weather to stay indoors and to things with our crab apples!
I decided to use the small amount of apples from one tree to make apple cider vinegar.
A recipe I found called for filling a quart jar 3/4’s full, and it seemed I had enough to do that with just these.
I washed all the apples in cold water with a splash of vinegar, leaving them to sit overnight. The recipe I found called for the scraps of apples – skin and cores – adding that if whole apples were used, to chop them coarsely. Since the crab apples are so small to begin with, after removing the stems, I cut them all in quarters. Some also needed to have bruises or damage cut out, and a few turned out to be bad on the inside and could not be used.
In the end, I had just the amount I needed to fill the jar 3/4’s full, perhaps a touch extra.
The next step was to dissolve a couple of tablespoons of sugar into a cup of water and adding that to the jar, then adding enough water to completely cover the apple pieces. Filtered water was suggested. As we have well water, we could have just used that, but our water is very hard and iron rich, so I used bottled water I happened to have.
The apples need to be kept submerged, and there are fermentation weights available for this. I have none, and had never seen one before looking it up on the internet. The alternative was to put a small jar in to weigh it down.
I have a collection if tiny jars that I have hung on to, and one of them fit perfectly into the quart jar! This is from a package of yogurt that came in 4 little jars to a package. I admit, I bought it just for the jars because they were so adorable. Handy, too!
The next step was to cover the jar with something that would keep dust or whatever out, but allow air in. It could be a piece of cheese cloth, some thin cloth or a coffee filter, fastened in place.
I stole one of my daughter’s coffee filters.
Now it needs to just sit in a dark place at room temperature to ferment into vinegar. This should take about 3 weeks. I’ve tucked it into the top of a cupboard we used fairly frequently, so it will be easy to check if there is any mold happening.
After 3 weeks or so, it will be strained, then left at room temperature to continue to ferment for another 3 or 4 weeks.
Once it’s at the desires taste/strength, it just needs to be strained and re-bottled. We’ll see how it turns out!
Apple Cider Vinegar
- quart size jar (an air and liquid tight lid will be needed after fermentation is complete)
- fermentation weight or another jar small enough to fit into the mouth of the quart jar
- cheese cloth, clean cloth or coffee filter to cover the jar
- cord or elastic to fasten cover in place
- apple scraps or whole apples, coarsely chopped; enough to fill a quart jar 3/4 full
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- about 2 cups filtered water
- Sanitize a quart jar and let air dry.
- Fill the jar 3/4 full with apple pieces.
- Dissolve sugar in 1 cup water and pour over the apples.
- Top up with more water until apples are covered.
- Add weight or small jar to keep apples submerged. Exposed apples may start to mold.
- Cover the jar with a cheese cloth or coffee filter and use a cord or elastic to hold it in place.
- Place in a dark location at room temperature and leave for about 3 weeks. Check regularly to ensure the apples remain submerged and no mold is growing.
- After 3 weeks, strain the apple pieces out, return liquid to the jar and cover again with cheese cloth or coffee filter.
- Return jar to a dark location at room temperature for another 3 or 4 weeks, stirring every few days.
- Taste after 3 weeks to see if it has reached desired tartness. If not, leave to ferment longer until it reaches the desired flavour.
- Cover with a lid and use as desired. The vinegar can also be transferred to a different jar or bottle, if preferred.
If you notice a film has formed at the top of your vinegar, congratulations! You have developed a “mother.” It can be used as a starter for future batches of vinegar – or a small amount of a previous batch can be used.