Learn how to make your own apple cider vinegar, thanks to the cookbook Infusing Flavors:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Recipe by Erin Coopey and reprinted from “Infusing Flavors” with permission.
12 small to medium apples, preferably organic
1 cup turbinado sugar or granulated sugar
4 cups water or more as needed, divided
Thoroughly wash and chop the apples into medium-size pieces. You may include the skin, cores, and seeds, but toss out the stems. Place the chopped apples in a sterile, wide-mouth, ½ -gallon Mason jar or crock.
Place the sugar and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Warm the water over medium, low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 cups of water.
Pour the sugar water over the apples. Add more room-temperature water, as needed, to cover the apples.
Cut a double-layer, 8 x 8-inch square of cheesecloth. Place it over the mouth of the jar and secure it with kitchen twine or a large rubber band.
Place the jar in a warm location, away from direct sunlight, for 1 to 3 weeks. Mix gently with a wooden spoon, once a day. When you start to notice bubbles forming and the apple scraps/chunks no longer float, it’s time to strain the cider. The length of time will depend on the warmth of the environment.
Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the apple pieces. Pour the strained liquid into a fresh, sterile, half-gallon Mason jar or crock. Cover it with a fresh double layer of cheesecloth and secure as before.
Return the jar to the same warm place and for roughly 4 to 6 weeks. You may see sediment forming at the bottom of the jar; this is normal. A culture similar to a kombucha SCOBY (see page 72) should form on the top of the liquid. It will be cloudy but should show no sign of mold growth.
After 4 weeks, taste the vinegar. If it has reached a good level of acidity—meaning it tastes sharp like vinegar and you are satisfied with the flavor—you can strain it through several layers of cheesecloth into a saucepan. You can use this vinegar mother to start a new batch of cider vinegar. Using the mother will speed the fermentation process.
Place the saucepan over medium heat. Warm the vinegar to 140°F but no more than 150°F.
You can use a candy thermometer to determine the temperature. Warming the vinegar to 140°F pasteurizes the vinegar and stops the fermentation process.* Continue cooking at this temperature for 30 minutes.
Funnel the warm Apple Cider Vinegar into a sterile bottle. Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
*note: Some people prefer raw vinegar, which is quite healthful but has a shorter shelf life. Pasteurized vinegar can be stored almost indefinitely.