Making Vinegar

Cider, New and Apple Vinegar
Cider, New and Apple Vinegar

LAKE MACBRIDE— From the moment an apple falls from a tree, deterioration begins. Over 20 years of tending our small orchard, I learned to keep the ground under the trees picked up to discourage bugs and worms from spreading throughout the trees. Before the main crop is ready, there has been usable fruit on the ground. One recognizes when it is time to pick based on how many apples fall in a day. I brought about five pounds of apples to the kitchen to make vinegar.

Making vinegar is pretty simple. Core and cut away bad spots, including bruises, from a bowl of apples and juice them with a kitchen juicer. (One can also make apple cider, but securing and using a cider mill is a big production not suitable for small baskets of fallen apples). Strain the juice and pour it into a half gallon canning jar. Add part of the mother from the last batch, or a small amount of last year’s vinegar, and cover with a cotton cloth to allow it to breathe. I use a scrap of our daughter’s diaper, as the warp and woof is just right to let air out and prevent bugs from entering. Set the jar in a dark cupboard and leave it alone for a couple of months, inspecting it occasionally to see if the process is working.

A process byproduct is straining and bottling the last batch. A lot of mother was produced in last year’s effort, and what I couldn’t use went into the compost. The jars in the photo have vinegar from apple cider, the new batch and from apples juiced in the kitchen. The latter is by far the best tasting and most acidic.

Cucumbers and onions are in, so maybe a batch of refrigerator pickles to recipe test the results.