Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apple Cider Vinegar and its Mother

Apple Cider Vinegar.

In the last year or so, while beginning this homesteading life, i have heard (or more likely read) the words "organic apple cider vinegar with the mother in it," as the answer to more questions than i can expound to you.  Seriously.

You've seen apple cider vinegar, right?  It's the brown vinegar that's sold next to the clear stuff.  You might actually buy the clear stuff, but not everyone buys the brown stuff.

But that's o.k., see, 'cause the brown stuff in the store, that you can get for a couple of bucks.....has been pasteurized.  They cooked the good stuff right out of it.

It turns out that apple cider vinegar - or ACV - when in its natural state, has a whole lot of "good bacteria" in it.  I know that's an oxymoron for some people.  But it's true.  It's kind of like yogurt, in that it's got the good stuff God made, for what ails ya.

Anyway, i frequent a couple of message boards, and one of them got to talking about making your own ACV.  This is good because i was probably never going to buy the stuff with the mother in it.  That stuff can be like $10 or something per gallon.  Yikes.

Oh yeah, you want to know about all this "mother" business, don't you?

When ACV is made without the pasteurization business - or organically - it grows a mother.  I haven't actually seen ACV's mother in person.  I've only heard her be described.  Here's what i gather.  ACV's mother is a globule of bacteria that has grown in the vinegar.  And if you have a mother, you can more easily start a new batch of ACV by transferring some of the mother into the baby-wanna-be-ACV.

That may or may not make sense.  If it doesn't make sense, you might get better information by googling it.  That's what i would do.

Now, that you're fully educated on the matter, i'll tell you the point of this post.  

I'm making my own Apple Cider Vinegar.

I've read two different methods that appeal to me, and i'm trying them both.

And i took pictures.  Don't worry, it doesn't have a mother yet.

I started with a bag of grocery store apples, and i washed them.

Then i cored them and set the cores aside.

I cut the apples into smaller pieces and put them in the blender with a smallish amount of water - enough to make the blender run properly.

And then i pressed "liquefy," and let her run.

It took a couple of go-rounds in the blender to get all of the apples liquefied.  Then i put the liquefied apples through a strainer (i forgot to take a picture of that part).  Then i took the part that made it through the strainer and put it through a cloth.  The picture below shows how i did it at first.  It turns out that this method, with the cloth below the funnel, doesn't really work.  I ended up putting the cloth over the funnel, and when the goo stopped allowing juice to flow through the cloth, i picked it up and squeezed it with my hands until i got all the juice out of the apples.  The juiceless apple bits were set aside with the apple cores.

Here is what i ended up with.  About 6 cups of juice and one quart of cores and apple pulp (that might not be the correct term).  The idea with the third jar is to fill it with water over the other stuff, and this is also supposed to make more ACV.

I evened out the first two jars and then placed a piece of cloth over the top of the jars.  I made the cloth pieces a little large as to kind of shroud the jars and keep them in near darkness.  Aren't they cute?

I'm told you're supposed to try to keep your jars in a warmish, darkish area while they ferment.  So mine are in the top of my closet, behind a box.

This process will take several months, while the apple juice ferments, becomes alcoholic, and then goes beyond alcoholic, and becomes vinegar.

Thus, i warned my loving man about the science experiments in the closet.  They're not sealed, so warning is definitely necessary.  Also, i'm afraid that if he sees a mother in something, he'll assume it must have gone bad, and throw it away.

~Interesting fact.  ACV is possible because a naturally occurring yeast is found in the skin of the apple.  Amazing!~

It's kind of sad that i can't show you my finished product yet.  Stay tuned.  In September or something, i'll probably be busting with excitement to show you my ACV's mother.


What do you think about that?