Making Apple Cider Vinegar, our Journey

Folk Medicine Book

I’ve had this little book for a long time, Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis. It’s a book about a home doctor out in Vermont that was called on for people and animals back in the day.  He used Apple Cider Vinegar for a lot of ailments. He also talks about honey, kelp and castor oil. I want to include his table of contents (its a book with 192 pages). I found this at a garage sale and see them sometimes.

His table of contents contains in chapter 5, “Your racial pattern and Vermont Folk Medicine” and I just wanted to point out that his “racial pattern” was speaking of where your family came from originally, like he points out Nordic people who ate lots

Table of Contents for Folk Medicine

of seafood have had a more difficult time adapting to land based foods, like wheat and animal meats.

Personally, I didn’t see any evidence of racism in his words and wouldn’t want to recommend a book that promoted anything of that sort. If he were to write this book today, I hope that he wouldn’t have used such a pejorative term.

Apparently, apple cider vinegar has some good minerals as well as an alkalizing property, which I personally have never understood since it is an acid…something to study more in the future I guess.

Apple trees were here before we moved here and in fall 2010, I thought I could give it a try to make a batch of apple cider vinegar.  I found the “recipe” on the internet, but of course, haven’t been able to find it since.  I am pretty sure that all I did was use the good peelings (not bruised or bug bitten) and the good cores (no wormy-ness) and put them into a large glass jar.  I wish I had a crock that isn’t see through, but any that I have ever bought at a garage sale ended up with cracks in them.  So, we used what we have.

Here’s the jist of what I put into the two gallon jugs (I didn’t measure anything):

  • Good Apple Peels and Cores (I used the apples themselves to dry)
  • Some clean cold water to cover it all up
  • Molasses, I’m not sure of the type…I got it at the store and I think it is unsulfured (you could use sugar too, it’s just extra energy for the bacteria to work)
  • A “glug” of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (because it has the “mother” in it…it helps get the vinegar cultured and ready to go)

Then I covered the top with cheesecloth and tied it up.  You really want to keep it tight or “vinegar” flies, aka fruit flies will come and have a swimming party in your growing vinegar.

I put my jugs in a northern unheated room in my house and waited for about 3 -4 months and I noticed the “mother” forming on the top.  I can’t really explain the mother…it’s a thick “skin” that forms at the top of the vinegar and it is called a SCOBY which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (which I think is too cool).  I mean really, I always wonder who figured this stuff out, “Hey, Mildred, this layer of tough slimy-ness seems to have turned our wine into a lovely salad dressing?!”  OK, it probably wasn’t like that, more of a grandma showing her grandaughter that the “sour” wine isn’t bad, but can be repurposed…sort of the ultimate recycling 🙂

I could go on and on on how I am amazed at the lovely microbes that help us everyday, heck we are mostly microbes in our guts.  Too bad the “bad” microbes get all the publicity, maybe SCOBYs need a new PR machine?  But I digress.

Our unheated room smelled like an alcohol factory (or what I imagine one to smell like, I guess I haven’t actually been around an alcohol factory) for a while which makes since as the peelings were fermenting first and that alcohol is what the vinegar microbes likes to eat.  That’s why wine needs to stay corked, so those microbes don’t start breaking it down to a lovely vinegar.  Depending on the alcohol, the vinegar will be different: white wine turns to white wine vinegar, beer turns to malt vinegar…neat huh?

Around the end of January, I noticed it was time to bottle our ACV (that’s the acronym for apple cider vinegar and I think it makes it seem so NASA-ish to use acronyms).  We made youtube videos of the bottling process and took a close look at the mother.  I thought I would try to freeze the mother for later; I think I read that somewhere, but that did NOT work, I killed her.  It took me awhile, but later I realized that the mother was growing on the bottles ACV (we didn’t pasteurize it), so we could use that mother as a sustainable culture if we made more ACV in the future.

***Also, I think that my vinegar is stronger than what you would buy in the store…I dilute it with water in 1 part vinegar 2 parts water.  I say this because one of the youtubers I follow said her dad made some ACV when she was growing up and she took a taste of it and it literally burned her mouth because it was so acidic.  So, take care.  Mine wasn’t that strong, but I also didn’t start with a strong alcohol (sugar content determines that, I believe).

We still have the ACV in jars in our pantry and I use it for anything I need ACV for.  I still haven’t used it for the animals like I want to…I read in that book that spraying ACV on their hay will increase milk production, but I haven’t tried it yet.  I’ll let you know if I do.  I will link the playlist of ACV bottling here:

Video Playlist for Bottling Our Apple Cider Vinegar

People have asked for a video of the “recipe” that we used…I wasn’t “doing” videos back then, and didn’t use my apples this year. Fortunately, they didn’t go to waste, since the chickens and ducks love them. Just didn’t get to it this fall.