Apple scrap vinegar is the ultimate when it comes to reducing food waste because you can give food scraps a second life and it takes very little effort. It’s so easy, that even if you don’t cook or know how to ferment you’ll be able to pull this off, as long as you wait patiently for a few weeks while the ‘magic’ happens. Then you’ll have homemade vinegar that you can use for salad dressing, hair rinses, cleaning and more.
The first time I made apple scrap vinegar when I was given apples by a friend who had an abundance from her own trees. After apple pie and crumbles, I was stewing, jamming, and drying apples which left me with a pile of cores and skins. I love to eat apple skin, but there is only so much you can eat at a time. The skins are packed full of nutrition, so eating the apple and throwing the skins out, is throwing the best part away. Getting the full value out of scraps or seconds fruit makes sense, especially if you’re trying to reduce waste. It will still end up in compost, but we’ll have made the most out of it first.
With skins in mind, something to be aware of, is that conventional apples are one of the most pesticide laden fruits because apple farmers spray for pests as a precaution. Pesticides to farmers are like insurance to ensure that a higher yield makes it to market. This has a hidden environmental impact which has potential cumulative health aspects to consider. So it’s best to buy organic or acquire non-sprayed apples if you can.
How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar at home from scraps
- Jar (about 750 mL for scraps from 6-8 apples)
- Large colander
- Breathable cloth for covering the jar and filtering the vinegar, such as muslin
- Rubber band (optional)
- Peels and cores from enough apples to fill a jar, bruised or second apples are fine too (About 6-8 apples for a 750 mL jar)
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- Water to cover the apple scraps (about 2-3 cups for this jar)
Note: Filtered water is best. If your water is chlorinated boil and cool it. Don’t use bottled water.
- Put apple scraps into a glass jar. Lightly pack it, rather than squashing, but fit in what you have.
- Dissolve sugar in a little hot water then add room temperature water to fill the jar.
- Cover with a breathable cloth. You can use a rubber band to hold it, if you choose.
- Over the next few days check it when you think to and give it a swirl. If the apple scraps start floating and popping out, then push them down with a spatula or spoon. You’ll notice it start to bubble slightly, and have an acidic smell which means its working and starting to ferment.
- Check it about daily and keep pushing any floating apple down. Eventually the apple will stop floating and bubbling will settle. This can take 2-6 weeks. Generally it’s faster in warmer weather. When there is no more bubbling, it’s done.
- Put a cloth into a colander and tip the apple jar into it.
- Squeeze out as much of the vinegar as you can. You can give these scraps to animals or compost them.
- You now have Apple scrap vinegar which you can use as you normally would vinegar. It makes about half the jar that it came from.
9. Rebottle and lid
- The measurements are rough guidelines, they don’t need to be exact, just work with the apple scraps and the size of jar that you have, or freeze them until you have enough to fill your jar.
- You can use whole apples cut into pieces, which is a great way to use bruised apples.
- At the end of step 5, if in doubt leave it for an extra day because you need to ensure the fermenting (bubbling) is finished before storing. Bottling while it’s still fermenting will cause the air to expand and could end up in an all mighty mess, so don’t rush it.
- As the vinegar ages, the acidity will increase, but it’s generally less acidic than cider vinegar. You can use this on salads, in hair rinses, swapped for lemon juice or however you normally use vinegar. Note that it may not be acidic enough for pickling – if I have an excess, I might experiment with this.Be warned, that this is so easy that you might start looking for excuses to peel apples when you previously would have left the skin on. But there are no complaints when I make apple pie, so it’s all good.