One more thing off the to-do list!
This afternoon, I got the fermentation bucket from our wine making kit sanitized and set up to make more crab apple cider vinegar. I brought two of the three bins of crab apples in from the old kitchen. The apples got cut in half, de-stemmed and any damage I found was cut off. Since I picked the apples by shaking the tree, then picking them up off the ground, there was bound to be bruising to get rid of. All the pieces went into the giant enameled bowl that was ready with water and lemon juice, to keep them from browning.
Each bin held the equivalent of a 5 gallon bucket, full to overflowing. Once the apples were cut and trimmed, however, they took a lot less space. The line that you can see in the bucket is the 5 gallon mark, which is what I was shooting for. The basic instructions for making ACV in jars was to fill them 3/4 full with apple pieces, so that’s what I what I did with the bucket. After finishing off a bin and transfering the pieces from the water to the bucket, so I could see how much more I needed to cut up, I added sugar and commercial ACV with “mother” as a starter, using the same ratios that were used when we did them in 1 gallon jars. Then I cut more apples from the second bin until I reached about 3/4 full.
We buy filtered drinking water in refillable 5 gallon jugs, as our well water has developed a taste to it. I used one of those to fill the bucket to the 5 gallon line, which used up about 3 gallons from the water jug. It all got a gentle stir to dissolve the sugar and mix in the ACV mother.
The apple pieces now needed to be weighted down.
I just happen to have a large serving dish I found in a Goodwill store, years before we moved out here. It was the perfect size, and heavy enough that no other weight was need once the air pocket under the (sanitized) dish was removed.
Finally, the whole thing was covered with cheese cloth that was snuggly tied in place. Then, because we have cats, the lid was put loosely on top. It now sits next to the carboy of fermenting hard apple cider.
This now needs to ferment for 3 weeks before it gets strained off, then left to ferment another 3 weeks.
The down side of fermenting crab apples is, it attracts fruit flies. It turns out they love apple cider vinegar! So I made a couple of fruit fly traps using some of the commercial ACV in small jars topped with plastic wrap with holes pokes in them. One went into the big aquarium, where the three 1 gallon jars of ACV are fermenting. The other is now in between the fermentation bucket and the carboy.
Even after removing a small bucket of apples for my mother, we still have about a bin and a half of apples! We need to do something with them quickly, before they really start bruising.
I’m considering cooking them up and straining them for their juice. I think we’ll get a lot more juice of them that way, compared to using the juicing machine! Or maybe make some jelly? We’ve made apple jelly before, but the jars had to be kept in the fridge because we didn’t have everything we needed to water bath can them.
There are SO many apples, though, we couple probably make a few different things!