Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, beauty regimens or healthcare, vinegar has a firmly rooted place in all fields. Salad dressings and hair, though on opposite ends of the spectrum, have forever been changed by the addition of vinegar to both! Though there are many types of vinegar, it’s safe to say that one player has changed the playing field forever. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give it up for apple cider vinegar!
Supposedly an ancient folk remedy, apple cider vinegar, also known as “cider vinegar” or simply “ACV” has long held an important position in kitchen pantries as well as medicine cabinets. Highly acclaimed for the variety of purposes it serves, apple cider vinegar is endorsed by everyone, whether your doctor, your beautician or your mother.
The Curious Case of Apple Cider Vinegar
Though it may not pique your interest quite as much as Brad Pitt’s chocolatey goodness, it’s still quite interesting to know what makes apple cider vinegar such a widespread success. It’s really quite curious how it can be such an all-rounder! Made of fermented apple juice, this wonder element can be both organic (or unpasteurized) or inorganic (or pasteurized). The former has a slightly congealed look to it as it contains something known as “mother of vinegar”, while the latter is more commonly found on supermarket shelves as salad dressings and vinaigrettes.
We give you a lowdown of why apple cider vinegar is such a celebrity:
Your Good Health’s Keeper!
Apple cider vinegar is one of the few, rare healthy things that mankind discovered. ACV is high in acetic acid, which has many health benefits. Organic ACV, containing “the mother”, have friendly bacteria, strands of protein, and enzymes. Apple cider vinegar is also a great inhibitor of bacterial growth such as E.Coli, which is what makes it such a popular preservative as well as disinfectant. Apple cider vinegar has also proved its effectiveness in improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels (especially post meals), weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
The Star of Your Beauty Regimen
If everyone from the Kardashians to Scarlett Johansson is singing the praises of ACV, there must be a valid reason, right? Well, turns out, apple cider vinegar is a great product to have in your beauty regimen, especially hair and especially in its organic form. Used as a shampoo as well as a hair softener/conditioner, ACV gets rid of the buildup of mineral deposits in your hair, improves blood circulation to your follicles to promote hair growth, and helps prevent hair loss. It is also a natural defense against warts, makes an effective toner, fades age spots and helps relieve sunburn.
A Great Cleaning Agent!
Apple cider vinegar is a great remover of stubborn stains as well as a great disinfectant, which makes it a popular toilet-cleaning agent. It’s antibacterial properties and pH levels make it an ideal cleaner all around the house. It can even help repel fleas on your pets.
A Farmer’s Friend!
No, we aren’t talking about earthworms and if you put too fine a point on it, we admit we aren’t talking about farmers either. But we are talking about gardeners and gardening because ACV can be a great help to gardening. It can help increase the pH levels of alkaline soil and act as a natural fertilizer, though only for acid-loving plants such as blueberries and azaleas. It also keeps away any unwelcome four-legged visitors because of the smell and gets rid of pesky fruit flies.
In the Kitchen
As we already know, apple cider vinegar is a great ingredient in many kitchens. It has great preservative qualities and is the core ingredient in many salad dressings and vinaigrettes. It’s sharp taste and health benefits make it a key ingredient in many delicious recipes. Whether as a marinade, meat tenderizer, lemon substitute, dressing or sauce, apple cider vinegar can do them all!
With so many great uses, you’re going to need quite a bit of apple cider vinegar. And it can get quite tiresome having to keep making frequent trips to the corner store to replenish your supply of apple cider vinegar and let’s not even count the dollars we’re shelling out. But what if we told you that making apple cider vinegar at home is not just a possibility, but a super easy and inexpensive possibility?
Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar?
Now that we have your complete attention, yes, indeed, you can make apple cider vinegar at home, and the process is highly reminiscent of making Christmas wine! (Though maybe not as delicious!) Like food, apple cider vinegar may be best homemade, as you can be assured of its organic quality and chemical-free wholesome goodness. You’ll also be saving yourself quite a bit of money (though by no means Wall-Street-worthy) as a bottle of ACV can cost you up to $11 for a 500 ml bottle.
So let’s get down to it, shall we? Here’s our recipe for some great, homemade apple cider vinegar!
What You’ll Need
- A huge, sterilized glass jar (for starters, you can try a wide-mouthed quart jar)
- Organic apples (scraps or whole apples)
- Organic cane sugar (1 tablespoon per 240 ml of water)
- Filtered water (enough to completely submerge the apples)
- Rubber band
- Weight or small jar
Some Important Points Before We Proceed
We are aware that we haven’t mentioned any quantities above. However, the quantities depend on the size of the jar you choose to make your apple cider vinegar in. Ensure that you have enough apples to fill the jar three-fourth of the way and enough water to fill the jar till the apples are submerged. As for sugar, you’ll need 1 tablespoon of cane sugar per 240 ml of water that you use.
Also remember that sterilizing your equipment, especially your storage jar, is highly important as not doing so will result in the possibility of the growth of bad bacteria that could impede the fermentation process, cause mold growth, and lay waste to all your efforts. Clean your equipment with hot, soapy water, rinse them in cold water, and dry completely with paper towels or in the open air, and ensure your hands are well-scrubbed too, before you start.
Is It Important to Use Only Organic Apples and Organic Sugar?
Well, not really. However, organic apples are a better bet as they are free from any pesticides that may contain bad bacteria that hamper the fermentation process. If you cannot find organically grown apples, just remove the peels of the apples and use the rest of it. Another great thing about apple cider vinegar is that you may not even need whole apples to make it! You can use all the leftover scraps and cores (seeds and all) from last week’s apple pie and they’ll give you the same great results. If you don’t have enough scraps to start right away, don’t fret! Store your scraps as and when they occur in an airtight jar in your freezer and defrost them when you finally get down to making your vinegar.
As for organic cane sugar, it’s again the better option as it keeps the vinegar natural and free from any additives that store-bought sugar may have. Processed sugar is also stripped of any goodness it may contain, which is why organic cane sugar is the better option.
Now That That’s Out of the Way, It’s Crunchtime!
- Fill your jar with apple scraps, up to three-fourth of the way. If you’re using whole apples, chop them into medium-sized pieces. Allow the scraps or pieces to rest a while at room temperature, so that they turn slightly brown.
- Dissolve the cane sugar in the filtered water. Remember the golden ratio of 1 tablespoon of sugar per 240 ml of water!
- Pour the sugar-water mixture over the apples till they are completely submerged. Make sure the apples don’t float above the mixture by weighing them down with kitchen weights or using a small, sterilized jar.
- Cover the jar with the cheesecloth and use the rubber band to secure it in place. Cheesecloth is used instead of a solid lid as gases need to be released from the mixture through the fermentation process.
- Let the mixture rest for 3 weeks in a dark, dry place at room temperature. Keep checking to ensure that no mold has formed. Your mixture may have white scum on top, which is completely normal. However, this scum is completely different from mold, which could totally destroy your vinegar.
- After 3 weeks, remove the apple pieces by straining out the liquid. Once done, return the liquid to the jar and store for another 3-4 weeks. Stir the mixture every three or four days.
- After 3-4 weeks, you can taste the vinegar. If it has reached the level of tartness you required, it is ready to use. If not, let it rest a while longer.
So there you have it! Homemade apple cider vinegar is really as easy as “ABC”! Just remember the following key points and pretty soon, you’ll forget where the cider vinegar is stored in the supermarket!
- Sterilized equipment
- Water-sugar ratio
- Cheesecloth and not a solid lid for the storage jar
- Check the growth of mold
- Stirring your mixture after straining every few days
Wait! How Do I Know When It’s Ready?
Well, as mentioned earlier, you could always taste the vinegar to know when it’s ready, as per your required level of tartness. Another way to recognize when it’s done is by the presence of “the mother”, which is clearly visible when you hold the bottle up to the light. Also, the fermentation process depends on the weather. Fermentation takes longer during the winter months and is faster during summer. So don’t get impatient if your vinegar takes longer to ferment! To help speed up the fermentation process, you can choose to add a teaspoon of store-bought, organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and add it in while on step 2 of the recipe.
Homemade ACV: “The Mother of All ACVs”!
If the easiness of making homemade ACV hasn’t yet convinced you to switch to making your own, we’re not quite sure what will. Homemade ACV is always a step higher than store-bought ACV due to its organic, raw, goodness. In fact, evidence of this wonder element dates all the way back to 2000 B.C! So let’s be smart like the early man, make the switch today, and enjoy the true goodness of apple cider vinegar as our forefathers intended us to!