Sunday, January 8, 2012
Apple Cider Vinegar; Homemade
Wow! was this easy and fun! I have almost a half gallon of apple cider vinegar that I started fermenting last summer. You HAVE to start with fresh pressed apple cider. The Lactobacillus and other wild yeasts and bacteria are on and in the fresh orchard apples. The minute you boil or pasteurize juice, you kill the friendly bacteria. Now, I'm not saying that it is impossible to make your own apple cider vinegar from pasteurized apple juice....I guess you could if you introduce the right culture mix into that juice and keep it warm and covered for several months...maybe it could work. Maybe Kombucha culture?
The first weekend of November 2010, a group of neighbors in my ward, gathered at a property that had an apple press, a new one. Each of us brought several bushels of apples that we bought or collected and picked wherever we could. We brought gallon jugs and many containers. We were taught the procedure and then we started. The next 4 hours we worked very hard, rotating the work stations until all 160 bushels were juiced. I brought home 8 gallons of juice and immediately stored 5 in my freezer and cooked and bottled the other 3 gallons. Summer of 2011 I cleaned out my freezer and wanted to use the space that the juice was taking up. I decided to try fermenting the rest of the apple juice. I let all 5 gallons defrost which didn't take long being in July. I then divided up the juice between some 1/2 gallon jars and quart jars. I did an online search how to do this and came up with some processes and time lines.
The directions were to simply cover the jars with towels or paper filters so air could circulate and leave the jars in a dark, warm place free from overt interference and direct sunlight for 6 months. I covered the jars and put them in my back room our of the way. A few days later, I smelled mold, the bad smell of mold really strong. I checked the jars and sure enough 3 of them had developed white mold on the top. I scooped that mold off and read directions again to see what to do when bad mold developed. I couldn't find anything about it.
I decided to add kombucha starter to the cider. I figured that the good bacteria would quickly take over and then start to make a "scooby" as a covering to keep the "bad guys" out. That is what happens in Kombucha (see much older blog) so I thought it might work in cider. I was fortunate...it did work. Each jar developed a "scooby or mushroom cap" and over the months it grew thicker and thicker as liquid shrank. They never did develop mold again. The back room instead of smelling of mold, started to smell of vinegar...a much better smell.
Right after Christmas, I harvested the the remaining juice out of all the jars. The gelatinous "scoobys" were very thick and as I couldn't think of anything useful for
those, I threw them away. I filtered the vinegar that was left; and it sure did taste like vinegar, and then I put all the vinegar into a 1/2 gallon jar and stuck it in the back of my fridge. I have been using some of it, but I will tighten it's cap and put it downstairs with other storage items. Very satisfying!