Vinegar has been used for ever as a taste enhancer and preservative and for fighting infections. Did you know that the Old Testament mentions the use of vinegar in curing wounds? Vinegar flavored with fruit, honey, and malt was even sold by Babylonians.
[pullquote]Apple cider vinegar health benefits
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol1
- Increases insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes2
- Cures acid reflux and aids digestion
- Treats arthritic joints
- Aids weight loss
- Detoxes the body
- Conditions hair[/pullquote]
Traditionally, vinegar was prepared from grape juice, apple juice, plum, coconut, tomato, rice, and potato. Yes, even potatoes, because the main requirement of vinegar production is starch or sugar that can be turned first into ethanol and then into acetic acid through fermentation.
Nowadays though, the primary ingredients in vinegar production are apple, grape, and other fruit juices, although rice vinegar, malt vinegar, and beer vinegar are produced in some countries. The best thing about vinegar, be it apple cider vinegar (ACV) or other types of vinegar, is that you can make it at home with easily available food items.
- A wide-mouthed gallon jar
- A thin cloth or cheesecloth to prevent insects entering the jar
- A rubber band to secure the cloth on the jar3[/pullquote]
- Organic ripe apples – try different varieties of apples, combining different proportions of sweet, sharp, and bitter to suit your palate
- Yeast (active dry grape wine yeast or any other yeast of your choice)
- Filtered water
Why You Should Make ACV At Home
Store-bought ACV is often pasteurized and not potent or beneficial because the quality may have been compromised during production. You don’t have to worry about that when you prepare your own batch of ACV at home. It is a long process involving slow fermentation, but considering the health benefits you can get with this vinegar loaded with bioactive components like acetic acid, gallic acid, and catechin, it is all worth it. And since it has a long shelf life, you could make it in bulk and store it.
1. Make The Juice From Ripe Apples
- Start with selecting a variety of apples to get a good blend of sweetness, tartness, and aromatic overtones. If you need a ratio, try 50% sweet, 35% tart, and 15% bitter-tasting apples.
- Rinse them thoroughly to remove any dirt.
- Cut the apples for crushing. Don’t waste any part of the fruit, for apple peel is rich in antioxidants. Crush the fruit and skin to produce the apple pulp.
- Using a fine strainer or cheesecloth, strain the juice into a wide-mouthed gallon jar. Fill the container up to three-quarter its capacity.
2. Ferment The Juice Into Cider And Then Into Vinegar
This process happens in two steps: first, the sugars break into alcohol with yeast fermentation – this is the cider; second, the cider gets converted to acetic acid by acetic acid fermentation.
- Add yeast to the juice in the ratio of one cake of yeast for one quarter of juice to speed up the fermentation process.
- After mixing the yeast, use the cheesecloth to secure the top of the container in place of a lid. Keep the jar in a warm, dark place. [pullquote]Use a cheesecloth to cover the container’s mouth instead of a lid because a lid will not allow air movement, and the cider will get spoiled. [/pullquote]
- Stir the mixture daily and try keeping it at a temperature of 60 to 80 °F. After 3 to 4 weeks, you will notice a vinegary smell and see a cloudy film in the vinegar. This is known as the mother of vinegar. It indicates that the alcohol has been fermented to acetic acid. Now filter the liquid through a filter paper or cheesecloth to remove the “mother of vinegar” and to prevent further fermentation.4
- Your organic ACV is now ready for consumption. Ensure that the vinegar is stored in non-metallic containers.
Good, organic, ACV is hard to get. More so, if it is non-pasteurized. Raw ACV contains valuable vitamins, probiotics, and enzymes, which get destroyed when pasteurized. But if you are sceptical and want your ACV pasteurized anyway, make sure the temperature does not exceed 140 to 160 °F while heating the vinegar. Then pour it into sterilized bottles. Use a cooking thermometer to meet the correct temperature requirement.5
3. Add Flavor If You Wish
Now, if you are someone who’s always looking for that added tang to your food, here’s an easy way to flavor your vinegar before bottling it.
[pullquote]If you’re using herbs for flavoring, use very fresh herbs, picked before blossoming and as soon as the morning dew has dried. Use only the best leaves or stems, leaving out the discolored, nibbled, crushed, or dried ones.6[/pullquote]
- Place the additives, such as green onion, garlic, ginger, or any combination of dried or fresh herbs, in a small cheesecloth bag.
- Suspend the bag in the vinegar till the vinegar reaches the desired strength. You could also use fruits for flavoring.
- Per 2 cups of vinegar, you can use 1/2 cup of crushed fresh herbs, or 1 tablespoon of dried herbs, or 2 large cloves of garlic, or 8 small green onions. Except garlic, all other additives will take at least 4 days to infuse the flavor.
What To Look Out For
- Ensure enough oxygen supply through the cheesecloth filter covering the fermentation jar so that the yeast can multiply.7
- Maintain the right temperature for fermentation, which is between 60 and 80 °F. Lower temperature slows the process down, while high temperature kills the bacteria.
- Make sure you are using glass, plastic, wood, enamel, or stainless steel containers for preparing the vinegar. Do not use a metal container as the acid in the mixture corrodes metals.
- Even when preparing flavored vinegar, use glass containers free of cracks or nicks and sealed with corks, screw-band caps, or two-piece canning lids. If you are using screw caps, wash in hot soapy water, rinse, and then scald in boiling water.8
Precaution: Don’t Use Homemade ACV On Foods To Be Stored At Room Temperature
Feel free to sprinkle your homemade ACV in salads and dishes for flavor. Mix it with water or honey on a daily basis and drink this for a healthy body. But don’t use it in foods to be canned or stored at room temperature as the acidity of homemade vinegar may usually vary from the store-bought ones.
|↑1||Setorki, Mahbubeh, SedigheAsgary, Shaghayegh Haghjooyjavanmard, and BaharNazari. “Reduces cholesterol induced atherosclerotic lesions in aorta artery in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.” Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 5, no. 9 (2011): 1518–1525.|
|↑2||Budak, Nilgün H., Elif Aykin, Atif C. Seydim, Annel K. Greene, and Zeynep B. Guzel‐Seydim. “Functional properties of vinegar.” Journal of food science 79, no. 5 (2014): R757–R764.|
|↑3||Making Cider Vinegar At Home. PennState Extension.|
|↑4||Sugar, US Patent 2928741A|
|↑5||Vinegar Making. University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.|
|↑6||Making Cider Vinegar At Home. PennState Extension.|
|↑7||The Science of Cider Making, Part 3 – Juicing and Fermenting. The Wittenham Hill Cider Portal.|
|↑8||Food, Preserving. “Flavored Vinegars.” (2000).|