The Apple Cider Vinegar Experiment {Part 1 – The Set Up}

There have been a lot of questions (in relation to this post on apple cider vinegar & making a mother) about whether store brought apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be used as a medium for the mother of vinegar. To answer this question I have introduced the mother to a jar of store brought ACV to see if 1. a mother will form and, if so, 2. if the mother will continue to grow on only store brought ACV. To compare growth and timelines I have also started a jar with the same amount of mother to apple juice, as well as a jar of only store brought ACV to see if a mother will spontaneously develop.

For the mother I am using Bragg’s ACV with the mother. Each jar (except for the pint of straight ACV) contains either 3 cups of store brought ACV or 3 cups of apple juice plus a generous 1/4 cup of Bragg’s ACV with the mother. My jar of Bragg’s was rather old so the vinegar had more visible mother sediment than a new jar does.

The jars, labeled and color coded. Red is ACV plus the mother, blue is apple juice plus the mother and green is straight ACV. These were all started on March 1st. My house is rather cool so things may take a while.

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The only development so far is a slight cloudiness from the jar of Braggs.

DSCN5732Updates to come as they develop.

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Pineapple Vinegar

Finally a way to use up all those otherwise inedible pineapple peels! Once again, I followed Sandor Katz’s instructions for Fruit Scrap Vinegar (found in either Wild Fermentation or in The Art of Fermentation; I also used this method with apple scraps for ACV ). Essentially use 1/4 cup sugar to 1 Qt of water, plus fruit scraps. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s how the pineapple fruit scrap vinegar went:

Cut up  the fruit peel; add to the sugar-water.

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Remember to cover the top – I use fabric scraps held on with the O ring. I keep the lid piece nearby as it’s important to stir the pineapple up – daily, if not more frequently. Shaking/ stirring helps to keep the pineapple immersed. As the fermenting progresses the bubbles will push the peels further up above the surface. Peels above the surface are at a risk for mold; the longer it pokes up above the liquid the more likely mold will show up – especially in the warmer months.

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Before long signs of fermentation will appear!

DSCN8574The liquid will also darken. This fermenting of the peels will take about a week. Strain. Katz’s says to ferment 2-3 weeks longer for your finished product. However I like to add a mother of vinegar to ensure and speed things along.

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A new mother quickly started forming.The pineapple vinegar mother is a lovely pale ever so slightly yellow white.

DSCN8659 Nine days later the vinegar smells – well like pineapple vinegar and the mother has grown quite thick. What to do with the mother now? Save it as a back up, use it to make more vinegar or make some nata. DSCN8782Time to strain and bottle!

I like to use a coffee filter because it catches just about all the sediment. It can take a while and maybe even a second filter. Carefully gathering up the edges of the filter and holding it up can speed things up considerably.

DSCN8787 DSCN8809Use now and/or age. I’m still looking for recipes that call for pineapple vinegar so if you have any – please share! In the meantime I’ve tried a marinade I found here. Combine 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup pineapple vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, a tablespoon chili flakes,salt and pepper. The original recipe calls for a small handful of chopped fresh cilantro. I didn’t have any so I substituted some parsley.

DSCN8970 DSCN8977Use this marinade for chicken, fish or pork; I went with chicken. It was good. Tender, sweet but also a touch sour and spicy. I used my broiler but grilling would be the way to go. I’m going to let the vinegar age a bit then try it in a vinaigrette.

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{In the Kitchen}

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Apple Jelly- No pectin required!

It’s been a while since we last peeked into the kitchen. Plenty has been happening but it’s usually gone before I get around to finding my camera and/or it’s so dark out the photos are dark and dreary. Thus, the few things I did manage to snap a pic of are frequent kitchen repeats that gave me ample opportunity.

Above: Apple Jelly, without pectin; this one is a money saver too as it uses up apple scraps. I found this recipe in Preserving in Today’s Kitchen but instead of using crabapples I use cores, peels etc. And I don’t use a microwave. Here’s my revised instructions.

Cover fruit scraps in enough water to cover well and simmer at least 10 minutes. I like to go longer- till the apple pieces are soft and can go through a food mill. Exact amounts don’t matter but as a guideline use 1 1/2 cups of water for 3 cups of scraps.

Strain the juice and measure. For every cup of juice use one cup of sugar and one Tablespoon lemon juice. Bring this mixture to a rapid boil until it thickens and gels. Then you can can it or just pour it in a jar and use out of the fridge. Apple jelly is great on toast, sandwiches and pork roasts to name a few. I run the rest of the scraps through the food mill and bake with the resulting applesauce – unless I give it to the chickens or pigs.

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Chicken broth

Chicken  broth : the crock pot makes a low mess 24 hr bone broth easy. It also works on the stove top or wood stove. We’ve been going through a lot of it these days with all the soup I’ve been fixing for the winter colds going around. I also use a lot of chicken broth cooking other meals. When a dish only calls for a little bit of chicken broth I use some chicken broth “ice cubes”. These store well in the freezer and there’s no worrying if you can actually use up all that broth.

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These grain free pumpkin whoopie pies from Deliciously Organic where great too. Very filling with all the protein from the nut flour. Next time I’ll process it in my food processor. I find that blending the nut flours in with the other ingredients (especially eggs) gives the finished baked good a much smoother texture. I’d also cut back on the salt.

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And another way to use up apple scraps: fruit scrap apple cider vinegar. I use Sandor Katz’s fruit scrap vinegar recipe found in Wild Fermentation. Essentially 1/4 cup sugar to one quart water plus scraps. Let ferment a few weeks then strain out apples. I add a mother and let it age.

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DSCN8073We’ve also been enjoying various versions of venison and/or pork sausage. Homemade sausage from our own pigs seasoned with herbs I grew and dried served with eggs from our chickens and fresh milk from our goats takes breakfast to a whole new level! I’ve been trying out different types of sausage: breakfast, Italian, andouille. When I use just venison I add a little bacon dripping too. It keeps the meat moist and adds flavor. I usually form patties, although hand rolled sausage “links” don’t work out too bad either. I have to get some casings one of these days! I’d also like to try some dry curing. Mmm salami!

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ACV- Appearances Vary!

Let’s take a look at a few jars of ACV (apple cider vinegar). Note how their appearance varies. The lightest colored one (on the left) is made from apple scraps (peels,cores etc.) the others are made from store brought juice of varying brands. After it ages a bit more I look forward to comparing tastes.

The next jar – as you can see below – was started 8-23 so it’s still aging. Then (still going left) there’s the jar I’ve been using ACV from. Usually I pour off the whole batch and get another going but for now I’ve been pouring some off into the smaller jar. Then there’s the jar of extra mothers.

The appearance of ACV can vary quite a bit, as do the mothers. Some are thin and filmy, some are nice thick clean-looking mothers, others look a bit more haggard and maybe have a layer of sediment on them.

It’s all good.

See this post and start your own mother: Apple Cider Vinegar {making a mother}.

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Apple Cider Vinegar {making a mother}

What is that?!

  A mother. A mother, as Wikipedia says ” is a substance composed of a form of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that develops on fermenting alcoholic liquids, which turns alcohol into acetic acid with the help of oxygen from the air. It is added to wine, cider, or other alcoholic liquids to produce vinegar.”

I originally made my mother  from mixing a bottle of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar with the mother with an equal amount of apple juice. After sitting for a while it began to form a mother on top. I  let the mother grow a bit then took that mother and a small amount of the vinegar, that was made while the mother was growing, and started another batch with slightly more apple juice than the previous 1-1 ratio. And we’ve been up and running ever since.

The resulting vinegar tastes great- use as you would use store brought apple cider vinegar. It takes less than 5 minutes to make. I make about 2-3 batches a year- making about a half gallon at a time. Other than the initial cost of the bottle of Braggs vinegar with the mother my only cost is the apple juice.  I cook and clean with the vinegar but I do not do my canning with it. In order to can with homemade vinegar it is important to get a hydrometer (anywhere with homebrew supplies should carry one) in order to insure the vinegar is acidic enough..

So on to the mothers: their appearance, behavior and usage.

Some photos.

Yeah the mothers look weird, gross even. They feel firm and not that slippery really. The mother always forms at the top of the container in a thin layer that will gradually thicken. If disturbed it may fall to the bottom and a new one will start to form on top.

Here are two mothers. They were in the bottom of the jar in the top photo.

They are quite thick. This is the thickest I’ve had them get so far.

Some times when you have a second mother start in the same contain they might meld together, eventually forming one large mother.

They start out thin and filmy-like these below. These formed over several months in the jar of ACV that I was using. So if you manage to damage your mother you can always restart with the ACV you have made.

I added it into the new batch: a half gallon jar full of apple juice.

Place the mother on top as best you can. If it falls to the bottom don’t worry. You can also add some ACV. This would be more important for really large batches to ensure the apple juice fermentation isn’t too much for the small amount of mother to process in a reasonable time frame. If for some reason you get mold growing throw it all away and start again as the mold spores spread throughout the contents and will regrow making future batches bad.

I initially cover the jar with a piece of fabric, held on with the canning lid rim, to allow the fermenting gases to escape. After the initial period I will switch to a regular cap. I write the date on with sharpie marker- it scrubs off easily, especially with a little baking soda.

Once the mother is in there you may see things like this floating:

or bits, like these in the below photo, settled on the bottom

They are normal and harmless so don’t worry about them. If you want you can filter the finished ACV. One way would be like this: through a coffee filter.

There’s not much but it did get those floaty bits.

Here is the filtered ACV. It’s the last from the a batch made about 6 months ago.

You can have as many batches (of any size) going as you like. As you can see the mothers are easily made and easily multiply. When I store a mother I put it in a small jar covered with ACV, rotate every few months. Why store a mother? I do in case I want to start another batch while the first is still aging and so if I do lose a mother (hey neglect and mistakes happen) I can just keep going on as usual.

          Here are left to right, a mother in storage, filtered ready to use ACV, and a new batch just started. I took these photos in the light so they would be clearer however ACV in all forms should be stored in a cool dark place – like a cabinet.

So that’s how to start a mother and use it to produce a never ending supply of apple cider vinegar.

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For another look at ACV see this post: ACV- Appearances Vary!

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