Note: Since I am getting granite countertops, I asked every question I could think of. A very good way to permanently ruin granite, even with the best of a seal on it, is to allow anything acid to sit on it. Be very careful with vinegar on granite!
You folks get ahead of me sometime. I had hoped to have my vinegar completely finished, with pictures, before writing this post but I’m getting lots of questions so I’ll share my steps here and then once mine is done, I’ll add the end result pictures.
Several have asked what I use this vinegar for. We eat a lot of salads and mostly, our dressing is some type of fruit vinegar, honey, olive oil and whatever herbs we may have in the garden . . usually thyme, basil, oregano or rosemary. Sometimes, I add garlic.
Another thing I love . . that I didn’t love when I first started drinking it but now I crave it if I’m not drinking it . . I put 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar into a glass and add a tablespoon or two of honey and some warm water. I stir it until the honey melts and then I add water and ice. This is such a refreshing drink once you get used to it and they say these fruit vinegars are great for your digestive system. I don’t know . . I just know that I really like it!
First, as always, there are multiple ways to do things. When reading on the internet, trying to learn all I can before publishing instructions, I came across so many varieties of instructions.
- Some say to only use honey, some only use white sugar, some only use Rapadura. I use plain white sugar.
- Some say to only use the good parts of the fruit . . don’t used the bruised areas. Some say the bruised parts are good to use. One thing for sure . . don’t use any moldy areas or gross areas.
- Some recipes said to grind the scraps. I’ve always left it plenty big enough to strain out.
- Some say letting the “scraps” turn brown before adding the sugar water is good. I’m not real sure how you would avoid that. My scraps are always brown because if you’re peeling a lot, they’re just going to get brown.
- Do not use this homemade vinegar for canning or pickling. I’ve read that it doesn’t work well and getting the acidity perfect is hard. I’ve never tried using it for canning and probably will not.
- If you’re canning the vinegar, or however you’re storing it, do not use metal. Don’t used metal lids! Don’t use metal containers!
Here’s what I do:
- Peel all the fruit. I generally don’t mix fruit but you can. I’ve done this with pineapple, pears, peaches, apples, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
- Place the fruit in a glass or food grade plastic container.
- Mix up a sugar water solution (1/4 cup sugar to 1 quart water) sufficient to cover the fruit. If I end up using 3 quarts of water, I would use 3/4 cup sugar.
- Cover with multiple layers of cheesecloth or clean sheeting . . anything to keep the dust and bugs out. Put a rubberband or zip ties around the top to keep the lid fairly snug. You do need to be able to remove it and add it back.
- Stir the mix every day at least once.
- I keep mine pretty constant as far as temperature – about 73 – 78 degrees.
- Once the bubbles stop forming, the fermentation is complete. I’ve had the bubbles stop anywhere from 1 week to 3 weeks.
- I strain the “juice” through a colander to get the big chunks out. Then I strain it at least three times through several layers of cheese cloth.
- Once it’s strained, pour it into containers where it can acidify. I do not pour it into canning jars because it needs to have a larger surface area. I pour mine into plastic containers that I can cover with cheesecloth.
- I usually let it sit out for several weeks and it can sit out for several months, even up to 6 months. A scum may form on top. This is the mother. You want to save that. If you see mold, that’s not good.
- You can use a titration kit to test the acidity, if desired.
- Once the vinegar has acidified to your liking, put it in whatever container you want to use to store it.
Some pasteurize it, some can it in a water bath. I mostly have small amounts and have canned some using water bath but usually I only end up with enough for one or two jars and we use it pretty quickly.
Always use your own judgment. If something doesn’t look right or smells wrong . . I would throw it out.