Raw cider vinegar is full of enzymes, vitamins, probiotics and minerals that pasteurised cider vinegars do not have, as they are destroyed by the heating process. All the healing benefits you have read about with cider vinegar are absent from processed products. If you have ever tried to buy it you will know that it is expensive compared to the heavily processed kind you get in the supermarket. Luckily, it is really easy to make!
- Take a large, wide necked jar. Sterilise it.
- Wash and chop your apples including the cores and peel (you can make this recipe just using the cores and peel after making an apple pie!), but remove the stalks. A mixture of different varieties makes a better tasting cider vinegar, but don’t worry if you can’t manage this.
- Put them in the jar, making sure it is half to three quarters filled.
- Cover them with water that has been boiled and cooled to lukewarm.
- Stir in a little sugar or honey to help the fermentation process.
- Cover the jar. When making wine, we use an airlock to keep out the bacteria that will cause it to turn to vinegar, but when making vinegar we actually want to encourage them, so instead the jar is just covered with cheesecloth secured with an elastic band.
- Stir daily for a week. It will begin to bubble and ferment from the natural yeasts in the apples, and you will be able to smell this happening.
- Strain out the apple pulp
- Return the liquid to the jar and cover again with cheesecloth. Leave in a warm, dark place for 4-6 weeks, stirring occasionally. The alcohol will transform into acetic acid or vinegar. A small amount of sediment will fall to the bottom, and what is called a ‘mother culture’ of dark foam will form on top – don’t worry about this, it is normal.
- Taste it to determine if it is ready starting after 4 weeks as it will get stronger the longer you leave it, and you can choose how you like it.
- Strain once more in clean glass jars or bottles. Store out of direct sunlight. Don’t worry if another mother culture forms on top, it isn’t going bad. Just strain again.
© Anna Franklin, from The Hearth Witch’s Compendium published by Llewellyn, 2017