The ground is covered with an opaque, crunchy frost this morning for the fifth day in a row. Amy and I were able to pick the last of the apple harvest from our small orchard and have bags and bags of yellow and red apples in our basement that we are slowing processing into pie filling, applesauce, and apple butter. Amy is also trying her hand at apple cider vinegar.
The supplies for making apple cider vinegar are simple: unpasteurized apple cider, a non-reactive container (we are using a stoneware crock) and cheesecloth.
We are making our cider from unpasteurized apple cider, fresh squeezed from the apples we picked last week. Amy filtered the raw juice and put it straight into the clean crock. Then she simply covered the container with cheesecloth held in place by a rubber band. The crock will stay in a dark place, our basement, to maintain a temperature of 60 to 80 F while it ferments. Amy has been checking it daily and giving it a quick stir and a thick substance, known as the mother (or Mycoderma aceti, the harmless bacteria that converts alcohol into acetic acid), has been gradually forming on top. We didn’t have any mother as a starter, but will be able to save it from this batch for our next.
It should take about six weeks to ferment. Once it is at an acceptable scent and flavor it will be ready to use. The uses for homemade vinegar are almost endless – cooking, pickling and even household cleaning. We also add a splash to our goats’ water, which they love! Might even try some making some switchel, the original energy drink.
Now, what to do with the rest of these apples?!