It is hard to find someone who wouldn’t have heard of apple cider vinegar. But it’s easy to find one who hasn’t started using it yet – for most of us aren’t aware of the ways it can be beneficial to us.
Also known as cider vinegar, it is a type of vinegar prepared from cider. It has a pale to medium amber color and is made by crushing apples and squeezing out the liquid.
Apple cider vinegar is generally used in salad dressings, food preservatives, and chutneys, amongst a few other dishes. And what makes it good, obviously, are its benefits. Studies have shown that ACV can help regulate the blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes. The acetic acid in ACV might also break down the fat in the body and eventually prevent weight gain.
Amazingly, and contrary to what seems logical, ACV also has a valuable role in preventing heartburn and aiding digestion. In most cases heartburn is actually caused by too little stomach acid which slows down digestion.
Food and gasses put pressure on the stomach, causing stomach contents (including stomach acid) to leak back into the esophagus. When you remedy heartburn with ACV it increases stomach acid and helps the body digest the food more quickly. This prevents the build-up and subsequent leakage which causes heartburn.
Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe
Makes approx. 4 quarts
5 large organic apples, 3 sweet and 2 sour
¾ cup raw organic honey
Freshly filtered water
1 wide-mouth 1-gallon glass jar
4 wide-mouth 32-ounce glass jars
4 snap-top glass bottles
Muslin or cheesecloth
Large rubber band and 4 smaller rubber bands
Stage 1: Make Rough Hard Cider—the Primary Fermentation
Wash the apples and coarsely chop into pieces no smaller than 1 inch. Include the skin, cores, stems, and seeds. Let the chopped pieces sit on your cutting board for about an hour or so; they will get brown in contact with the air, and this oxidization is what you want as it will speed up the fermentation.
Throw the pieces into a clean 5-quart jar—they should fill the jar by about one-third to a half. If they do not, add more chopped apple. Add enough filtered water to cover the chopped apples completely—the container should be more or less full, say to about 2 inches from the top.
Stir in the raw honey until fully dissolved.
Ideally, you want to keep all the apples immersed as they ferment. Use a suitable object, such as an upturned beaker or a smaller jar, to press down and submerge the apples.
Cover the top of the jar with your cloth and secure with a large rubber band. Place the jar in a warm and dark place, such as a warm kitchen cupboard above the refrigerator. Let the mix ferment for about 1 week, stirring gently once or twice a day.
It will start to fizz and bubble, and smell like a microbrewery, as the sugar ferments into alcohol. It will also start to cloud and thicken, making a viscous liquid. You’ve now made a very coarse if somewhat weak hard cider.
After about another 7 to 9 days, often when the apple pieces no longer float but sink to the bottom of the jar, the apple cider is ready to be converted to vinegar.
It’s perfectly acceptable to leave the jar to ferment for much longer, say 6 weeks, and as every batch is different, it’s good to experiment. You will end up with different flavors and strengths of apple cider vinegar.
Stage 2: From Apple Cider to Apple Cider Vinegar—the Secondary Fermentation
Strain off the pieces of apple by pouring the cider through a sieve into the 4 x 1-quart glass jars. If you like, you can mash up the apple pieces and press their juices out, and add this to the jars. Cover each jar with a fresh piece of cloth and secure with a rubber band.
Leave alone in a warm, dark environment for another 3 to 4 weeks to allow the acetic acid bacteria to transform the alcohol into acetic acid. During this secondary fermentation, the odor will shift from a sharp alcohol to tart vinegar, and some sediment will form at the base as well as, thrillingly, a culture known as the mother.
You see the mother as threads in the liquid and perhaps as a disk on the surface of each jar. The mother of vinegar is a living thing, perfectly harmless to consume and formed of apple residues, enzymes, and acetic acid bacteria.
From 3 weeks onward, gently push aside the mother to taste your apple cider vinegar to see if it is ready. Once it has the right level of sourness for you, remove the mother, if one has fully formed, keeping her immersed in a jar of apple cider ready for the next batch.
Pour off the vinegar, leaving behind the residue, which you can compost. Store in clean glass jars with secure lids or snap-top bottles.
Because the vinegar is raw and alive, another mini mother often develops in each bottle as fermentation continues. In the airtight environment this will soon cease and the vinegar will become stable and very long lasting.