Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making Apple Cider Vinegar

The origin of this blog started as a simple means to document my fermenting and preserving projects and promote the vinegar & jam creations sold on Etsy. Time went by and I began to post more frequently on other food related topics. However, as a proud 'ferment er' I never offered some instruction for making vinegar in the home. Since this is one of my loves and origin of this blog it seems fitting and overdue.

I have made vinegar for years now using many techniques and methods, liquids and equipment. Although the ways and means vary as greatly as the end results the whole chemical process of making vinegar is the same and relatively simple. The best place to start, and quite frankly the best result for taking on this project, is to make a batch of apple cider vinegar.

Apple Cider vinegar is very refreshing, versatile and as noted quite popularly healthy for us as a tonic, cleaning solution, preserving medium and cooking element. It might just be a culinary jack of all trades. 

To get scientific for a moment, turning wine or fruit into vinegar involves a chemical process through which the partial oxidation of ethyl alcohol results in the formation of acetaldehyde, which is then converted into acetic acid. Right. 

When fermenting wine or hard cider into vinegar, the alcohol is already present in the prepared beverage. All that is needed is careful oxidation and inoculation of a mother or yeast. With making vinegar from fruit, scraps or juice, the addition of alcohol or initial fermenting of the fruit to create alcohol (a hard cider in our case) is needed to ferment vinegar. It may sound elaborate but once you get started and make your first batch you will find that nature takes care of all of the science. All you have to do is get it started and then keep it in the right environment.

So let's get started.

Cider Vinegar

Special Equipment
Large glass jar, earthenware crock or food grade plastic container (minimum 1/2 gallon size works best, but you can use a smaller container).
Cheesecloth, a bandana or cloth large enough to cover the opening of your container.

Whole organic apples roughly chopped or scraps (cores & peels); 10 whole apples or scraps from 20-30 apples.
Organic cane sugar, rapadura sugar or wild, organic honey
Pure spring water or filtered water (never use chlorinated water)

Using Whole Apples
Wash your apples and then simply chop them up, roughly keeping the peels, stems and seeds. Do not chop the apples into pieces smaller than 1 inch pieces.
Follow the directions for 'using scraps' below.

Using scraps
A great way to utilize the apple scraps from making a pie or apple sauce. If you do not have enough scraps to fill half of your container at first you can simply tightly seal and freeze the scraps, collecting them in your freezer until you have enough or are ready to begin.

Fill you container by at least half way with your apple scraps (peels & cores), seed, stems and all.
Keeping tract of the amount of water you use, fill the container up at least 3/4 full to full. You want to make sure there is enough water to submerge the apple scraps and more water is more vinegar. Do not exceed 2 parts water to 1 part scraps which will leave you with a diluted, low acidity vinegar.

Sprinkle the sugar into the jar with the apple scraps and water (1/4 cup sugar to each 1 quart water). Using a wooden spoon agitate and stir the mixture to help dissolve the sugar several times over an hours time keeping the container covered with your the cheesecloth or cloth to keep any flies or critters out.
Once sugar is dissolved (or mostly) use a large rubber band or piece of string or twine to tie the cloth snugly over the opening. This is to ensure that during the fermenting no flies or critters make their way into the liquid. And they will want to.
Note: At every stage of the fermenting process you want to keep the vinegar (to be) in a dark place and preferably room temperature, not dark and cold. UV light inhibits the growth of the bacteria.

For the next week try to check you mixture once a day. It will be bubbling and foaming as the sugars are fermented into alcohol. You will undoubtedly notice the sharp perfume. Using a wooden spoon to push down the scraps into the liquid, gently mixing the scraps that rise to the top.

After a weeks time or more the apple scraps and cores will start to sink and settle in the bottom of the container. When this happens it is time to strain out the scraps.
You will notice the apple pieces (in the picture above) have sunken to the bottom of my glass jar: Time to strain!
Note: I started this project in a 2.5 gallon glass jar. Normally I would have continued the fermentation after straining in the same jar or one of similar size. However I used the majority of this hard cider to feed my ongoing apple cider vinegar which is in a 15 gallon oak barrel. The remainder if the hard cider I continued to ferment into apple cider vinegar in a 1 quart glass jar (as shown is the rest of this post) to give pictures to the instructions. As you can see a smaller jar will work but I do suggest using a larger vessel.
Strained and ready to ferment in a dark, warm
nook for 4 to 6 weeks.

After you strain your liquid through cheesecloth, rinse your fermenting container and return the liquid. Cover once again with you cloth and place your ferment in a warm, dark place for the next 4 to 6 weeks.
As your liquid transforms into vinegar the miracle of life will become evident as a mother will form on the surface of the ferment. A mother is made of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria and is responsible for converting the alcohol into acid. Once your batch of vinegar has reached the desired acidity and you are ready to bottle, remember to take care and save the mother. It is alive and can be used for future batches of vinegar.
5 weeks later. Comparing from the previous picture above,
you can see some evaporation has occurred and there is a
thick growth on the surface-The Mother!

After 4 to 6 weeks you will notice the smell of your ferment has changed from a sharp alcoholic odor to an acidic, vinegar scent. Well now, you have made vinegar! How ready it is primarily depends upon your taste. Yes, I advise that you taste your creation in it's raw living state.

 Gently dipping a spoon somewhere around the edge of the mother where it touches the container, gather just enough of the vinegar for a taste. You do not want to move or disturb the mother that much. Just peek the spoon in. Alternately you could use a clean eye dropper or small baster to gently suck up some of the vinegar. Taste the vinegar for acidity being careful not the inhale as homemade vinegar tends to be a bit more potent than commercially made vinegar.

If your ferment still has a little alcoholic smell or flavor or if the potency of the acid just doesn't quite pack the punch of vinegar you may simply cover and return it to a warm, dark place for another 2 weeks or so. Just check it every week you continue to ferment it, tasting to see if you have reached the proper acidity.

If your ferment tastes quite acidic or pleasant to you and you are ready to bottle your vinegar, simply strain the vinegar from the mother. You can either use an unbleached paper coffee filter or some cheesecloth to filter out any floating pieces or impurities. If the vinegar highly acidic and you find it almost too potent you can simply add some spring or filtered water to mellow the acidity.

 Note: At the bottom of your ferment there will be a small amount of grayish sediment. When pouring or extracting the vinegar from the original container you are going to want to decant the vinegar from the mother and the sediment. Do not try to filter this sediment through the coffee filter or cheesecloth. It will make it through and cloud your vinegar, disrupt the flavor and possibly shorten shelf life. Also the mother needs the liquid to stay alive until you use it in the next batch you make. Consider the practice of leaving behind enough vinegar to submerge the mother as a means to continue your fermenting practices when you decide to start another batch.

After you strain your vinegar you now posses your very own, homemade RAW apple cider vinegar with all of the flavor and natural health benefits. You will want to keep it sealed or corked in a jar or bottle and out of sunlight (just like your oils and store bought vinegar). Traditionally, after vinegar has been strained (and pasteurized if desired) it is sealed into containers and allowed to develop for 2 more weeks. This time allows the acid to mellow and flavors to develop.

Since your vinegar is raw, it may develop another, smaller mother on the surface as time goes by. If it is does you may simply spoon it out and save it with your other mother or add it to your new batch you have going. In time as the oxygen supply is cut off the vinegar will become inactive and you will no longer see any growth.

Pasteurizing (very optional)

You may prefer to pasteurize your vinegar. This is an unnecessary step for most homemade vinegars. Especially apple cider vinegar. Pasteurizing destroys the living bacteria in the vinegar stopping any more growth, stabilizing the flavor and lengthening shelf life. This process is primarily used for large commercial operations where exact consistency and shelf life are important or for home brewers who want to bottle their vinegar for long periods of time.

To pasteurize you vinegar, pour the vinegar into a large stainless steel or enamel coated pot (do NOT use aluminum as it will react with the vinegar, turning it grey and cloudy). Over medium heat bring the vinegar up to 140 degrees and hold it at this temperature for 10 minutes. Be careful not to boil your vinegar. This could cause it to cloud as well. Try and keep the process slow and gentle.
After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the vinegar to cool, uncovered. Once the vinegar (and pot) are cool to the touch, pour the vinegar into your storage container and seal until ready to use.

Point of interest- The jar on the left is apple cider vinegar from a batch I finished in September of last year (2012), 7 months ago. I filtered it as mentioned above and left it raw. As I have used it and oxygen has come into contact, it has oxidized and turned the classic amber color associated with apple cider vinegar.

The jar in the middle is the apple cider vinegar which I have just filtered and is raw can now be aged for 2 weeks, use as is or pasteurize.

 Finally the jar at the far right is the mother and unwanted sediment I have just decanted. To ensure the mother will live I will either start another batch of apple cider vinegar within a couple of days or I will scoop out the mother, separating it from the murky sediment and place it in a jar submerging it with some of the newly finished vinegar until I am ready to use it.

Long live real food.

When I try a new project or revisit a recipe I have fallen out of familiarity with I like to do some research and cross reference a few sources to get an overall feel and rounded awareness of what to do and expect. So below I have listed some sites that have been helpful and offer some information to help broaden your understanding of the process fermenting apple cider vinegar.

The Healthy Eating Site: How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar

Mossgrownstone: Apple Cider Vinegar {making a mother}

Down to Earth: Making Vinegar The Old Way


  1. Sounds very interesting, Graham! Have just read the whole thing to my husband and who knows, we might give it a go!

  2. Thanks for reading, Azlin.

    I hope you do give it a try. Rewarding to have your own vinegar to show off in your recipes. Fun!

  3. Hi, i make acv by adding apple juice to a batch of raw vinegar. Am i skipping the alcohol phase?

    1. Jean-Pierre,
      If after adding the apple juice to the raw vinegar you are allowing a "mother" to form on the surface thus converting the sugars and creating a whole new batch of vinegar, then no, you are not skipping a phase which will create alcohol. The amount of alcohol may be less due to the inclusion of vinegar in the process, but the sugars in the apple juice will "spoil" turning into alcohol which will then be converted into vinegar.

      Note that when making vinegar, the alcohol in wine, or a "hard" juice (spoiled apple juice) will be converted into vinegar. Almost all of the alcohol content will be converted into vinegar, but when making at home each batch results in a different outcome. If having alcohol in your diet is of concern, you may pasteurize your vinegar and hold it at a near simmer for 10 minutes to cook out any residual alcohol.

      If you wish to use your vinegar RAW, the best way to ensure that as much of the alcohol has been converted is to let an undisturbed "mother" sink from the surface on her own. When a "mother", undisturbed, sinks from the surface of a fermenting vinegar this means that most if not all of the useful alcohol & sugars have been consumed and converted into vinegar. There still may be trace amounts.

      I hope this helps & thank you for asking!!

    2. If the mother sinks to the bottom is it still alive or has it starved due to lack of alcohol and sugar?

    3. Thanks for reading and for asking. This topic you bring up has many answers and to some vinegar makers is a gray area.

      If you mother sinks from the surface (on it's own & not by being disturbed- shaken or poked) of your vinegar, this is a tell sign that the majority of sugar/alcohol has been converted into vinegar- Your vinegar has fermented! This does not mean that the mother is dead but may just be weak due to the lack of "food". You can, as I have, use this sunken mother in a new batch of vinegar to help jump start the process.

      When using a mother from a previous batch it will sink in the new liquid. Sometime it rises back up and other times it does not. In my experience "mothers" are a delicate organism: Once disturbed they tend not to function the same, but they do still work.

      Most often a new mother will grow on the top of your new ferment. Sometimes is grows from the old mother as if sprouted. Then when this new batch is done fermenting, save the new mother and discard the old sunken mother.

  4. a mother has formed in a commercial bottle of vinegar. Would using it speed things up?

    1. Sorry for my delay in responding.

      Yes! If you have a mother from a previous batch of vinegar; if an opened and neglected bottle of wine or a commercial/ store bought vinegar forms a mother (and there is no sign of green or white fuzzy mold) you can definitely use this to kick-start your own vinegar.

  5. Hi there, thank you for the well detailed description! Very interesting.
    My question would be; is the "mother" the same or just similar to the kombutcha mother, and could itbe used to make kombutcha tea?

    1. I love this question! I have been wanting to brew my own kombucha and have had the same question. Here is what I have found:

      First, here is a useful link:
      It is a little scientific and a bit over my head although I understand the basics.

      As far I can tell the two growths ("mother" for vinegar & "scoby" for kombucha) while similar in their purpose are different in their chemical make up; feeding/ living off of different sugars and producing slightly different ferments. So no, they are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably....Well, not right away?

      From what I can tell a vinegar mother could be transformed into a scoby, and possibly vice versa. Why not? I seems that if a vinegar mother was placed into a tea solution (to make kombucha) it would gradually transform into a scoby and thus do the job. How long it would take I do not know - and would that first batch of kombucha be more like a vinegar? I do not know. But it seems possible to convert a vinegar mother to a scoby.

      You may just end up creating a new ferment!!

      I am all for experimenting and enjoying the world of living foods plus I have a lot of vinegar mothers in my possession to play with. My only word of advice would be to purchase a kombucha scoby for it's sole purpose, if brewing kombucha is important to you and what you really want to accomplish.

      You can find kombucha scoby dealers everywhere. I know there are many places in my area where I can pick them up directly, however, online resources are handy if you live where this is uncharted territory. Check out some of the shops on easy.com. Many of them have support and starter kits.

      If you are well underway with your fermenting or just starting, let me know your progress!

      Thanks for reading.

  6. I really enjoyed reading your article. I've been using alot of Braggs raw apple cider vinegar "with the mother", and since we just made 7 gallons of cider today, I thought I'd try my hand at making my own, and save some money. My question is regarding the mother. I really like braggs vinegar, and notice that there is a sediment on the bottom of the bottle. I saw somewhere else online that you can use 1/3 Braggs to be the "mother" and add it to your hard apple cider to get started. After fermenting several weeks/months, it will form a new mother on top. When I bottle it, can I keep this mother in the jar like braggs does? Or is there a reason why you skim it off? Why does braggs leave it in? Any thoughts? Thanks so much for your help!

  7. Sorry for my delay in responding to your comment. This is a great question and I have an answer!!

    So yes, adding Bragg apple cider vinegar (with the sediment or "mother") to your apple juice or cider is a great way to inoculate and jumpstart a batch of your own vinegar. There are a lot of online resources that have recipes or listed amounts to add to a juice or cider.

    After a while (2 weeks or more depending on sugar content & temperature) a mother will form on the top of your cider as the sugars/ alcohol are converted into acid/ vinegar. This is great and what you want.

    Bottling: Here is what I do and what most RAW vinegar producers do when bottling their vinegar which still have the "mother" included in the bottle.

    Leave the large, surface dwelling mother in tact. It can be used to jumpstart your next batch of vinegar or gifted to a friend who wants to try. This mother will be thick and chunky if cut into pieces and put in a bottle. This is not to say you can't add pieces of this to your vinegar as you bottle it, but that it is unnecessary.

    What I do is filter my raw apple cider vinegar through an unbleached coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth to remove old sediment and any vinegar eels that may be lurking (yeah, vinegar eels. Another topic of interest). You can decant bottle by bottle or decant into on large vessel and then bottle from there. I usually decant into one larger vessel then bottle. I tend to think of there being layers in the vinegar I have made all holding their own properties and flavor and I like to think I am mixing them so each individual bottle I produce is as similar as possible. That's just me.

    Anyway, the vinegar you have decanted and strained/ filtered is still very much alive. When you cork or cap this vinegar it will continue to live for quite some time even with the absence of oxygen (as with products like Bragg). During this time (as you "bottle age" your vinegar for 2 to 4 weeks which is recommended for mellowing of acidity and flavor) each bottle of vinegar you have will create/ grow it's own little mother on the surface as well some murky stands may develop near the bottom. These are the growth and reproduction of a mother. In time as the oxygen is depleted the mother on the surface will sink to the bottom, become discolored and fragment into sediment looking similar to what you see in a bottle of Bragg vinegar. And there you have it. Your very own!

    If you decide in later time to make more vinegar and the large mother from the original fermenting has long been gone yo can simply use your own bottled RAW apple cider vinegar to start the process all over!!

    P.S. If you are interested in keeping the original mother for later use it is best to keep in submerged in a little of the original vinegar you produced. Just enough vinegar to keep it covered with a little leg room. I usually put mine in an airtight container to slow growth, opening the container every week or two to let in some oxygen and to "feed" it to keep it alive and happy. You can feed your mother apple cider, white wine or even a sugar water solution (1 part sugar to 8 parts water). This will give it something to eat as it rests.

    Enjoy and let me know how it turns out!

    Thanks for reading and asking!!

  8. Three questions!
    1. At what phase do we add the prevous mother?
    2. I've started making my own wine this year. Through the process I often have some sediment/bottoms that I usually use to keep the septic system happy. I'm wondering if I could use this in making the vinigar process somewhere.
    3. Can the final vinigar be bottled and corked like I do my wine or will the fermentation pressure be too high? Thank you

    1. Thanks for asking!
      Q1: At what stage do we add the previous mother?
      A1: Once you strain out the pieces of apple and have your liquid in it's fermenting container you may add the mother.
      Q2: I've started making my own wine this year. Through the process I often have some sediment/bottoms that I usually use to keep the septic system happy. I'm wondering if I could use this in making the vinegar process somewhere?
      A2: Great question. Of course I encourage people to try everything for themselves because some of the best recipes are made out of ignoring the rules but I have tried this and it has left me with terrible results. My answer to you is to not use any byproducts to enhance or encourage a ferment. Usually, byproducts from fermenting are just what they are. They will continue to age and add an old, musty flavor to your vinegar.
      Q3: Can the final vinegar be bottled and corked like I do my wine or will the fermentation pressure be too high?
      A3: The vinegar can be bottled and corked with no problems of pressure.

  9. After bottling, you speak of aging it for 2-4 weeks. .... but what if I want to store it for months? Can I just let it 'age' for months?? without 'canning' it? Just put in a bottle and scew on the cap? And it keeps for months? thanks for all the details!

    Oh, and what if I am starting with apple cider that was not really very sweet to start with. I think it was made w/a lot of crab apples. Will there be enough sugar to make good ACV?

    1. You can age your vinegar for longer than 2-4 weeks. Each batch of homemade vinegar is different so your results will vary, but I have some 2 year ACV I made in my pantry which I just four and started to use.
      The only caution we as home brewers need to take is that our vinegar can spoil since we are making it naturally. SO feel free to age your vinegars but just open and smell/ taste/ check before you use them or gift them!!

      The sugar content will directly affect the acidity level of your vinegar. Note that some varieties if tart apples actually have a good amount of sugar, they just don't taste that way.

      I am not sure about crab apples but the recipe I have given is a pretty fool proof formula for giving the liquid enough sugar to develop some acidity.

  10. I am just beginning to think about trying to make vinegar. We make our own cider, do I still need to get or make a "mother" or will one form on the cider? I'm a little confused. Thank you, Grace

    1. No need to get a mother unless you want to speed things up. You will have one of your own in no time.
      Simply letting your cider be exposed to the air (covered with a towel, layers of cheesecloth or fine mesh fabric) will allow the sugars from the apples ferment into alcohol which will then form a mother and begin fermenting into vinegar. Your mother will grow once the alcohol begins to turn into acid.

  11. Hi Graham,
    thanks for such a comprehensive blogg! I am an Herbalist with a scientific background (wine industry) and so am pleased to find a little technical info to make me feel this process is actually going to produce a raw apple cider vinegar similar to the (expensive) organic batches I have been buying to produce my oxymels etc.
    One question - To make fairly large quantities in an oak barrel - does the barrel have to be new? Would ex wine barrels be suitable? Would the wine sedement permeated into the timber result in strange ferments?
    I can't think of another suitable sized container I may be able to get hold of - except plastic or maybe stainless steel.
    Will give a smaller batch a try first anyway. Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Clary,
      Thank you for reading and the compliment.

      It really is easy to make this food yourself (instead of paying for it). I am glad you are on your way to fermenting.

      Using "used" oak barrels would allow you to have the perfect vessel to ferment. There are a few points I would make:
      -Used oak barrels are fine if they are in good repair. If they have been empty for a while and have dried out you will need to fill them with chlorine free water to swell the staves so it won't leak when you begin your ferment. At this time you will find out if the barrels are in fact still able to hold liquid.
      -If you are going to invest in getting oak barrels think about how they are going to work for you. Old, used wine barrels usually have bung holes in their sides. Think about how you will be getting the liquid in and out and how you will be able to check on the progress of your fermentation. I faced this topic when I began my fermenting on a larger scale and I had to go a whole different route than I originally expected.
      Anything is possible but it all depends on how easy and accurate you want to make the experience.
      Clary, if you are serious about this please contact me and I can go over more details about fermenting and the operation of a barrel. contact me at: grahampearson30@gmail.com
      - Using old barrels could have advantages and does have some disadvantages.
      When a new oak barrel is crafted and toasted it will lend it's natural flavor to whatever is placed inside. As time goes by and batches of wine, liquor, tobacco, vinegar, etc. are introduced and then withdrawn, so does the natural flavor of the oak wood and the initial toasting of the interior.
      Of course we can speculate that as flavor and character is withdrawn by the elements such as wine, that the character and flavor of the elements (let's say wine) would penetrate the wood and infuse their essences.
      This is a fact. I know of some fold who "cure" small wooden casks and boxes (humidors) with bourbon in which they later age tobacco in. I do not partake myself but I understand that the tobacco takes on a world of flavor.
      So in regards to making vinegar, I would suggest that even if some of the "oak" and "toast" had been diminished from previous wine fermenting a used barrel would lend the flavors left from the wine in the process of fermenting vinegar.

  12. During the 5 week process did you happen to see any small worms growing in the cider vinegar?

    1. Although I have never experienced these "vinegar eels" for myself I am well aware of their existence.

      "Vinegar eels" as they are called are nematodes that feed on the cellulose of the mother of vinegar. They love acidic environments and are very common when making Apple Cider Vinegar. While they are harmless to you and your vinegar they are unpleasant and something you will most likely not want to eat.

      Once your vinegar has finished fermenting you will want to filter your vinegar through a paper coffee filter to remove the critters. There is a possibility that they could make another appearance after you bottle your vinegar. This does not mean that your vinegar is bad and cannot be used. Simply filter the vinegar again before you use it.

      Making food in the old traditional way opens the doors to new and strange experiences. This does not have to be a bad thing. If you would like to prevent any future visit from the nematodes then you can pasteurize your apple cider vinegar after filtering, before bottling.

  13. Hello, I followed the recipe and noticed that I have little tiny (1~2mm long) white worms on the top where the mother is forming. Is that normal?

    1. Hi Graham, Can you comment on if you have any seen any vinegar eels or small 1mm long white worms anywhere during the process. Is this normal or does this mean my apple cider vinegar went bad?

    2. Yes. These nematodes which feed on the mother of vinegar and love to live in acidulated climates are called "vinegar eels".

      They are harmless and very common when making apple cider vinegar. You might be surprised to know that there are farms where "vinegar eels" are bred to feed fish!

      So for the most part they are just unpleasant to have around and something you don't really want to eat. Again, they are harmless to you and your vinegar. You can't get rid of them as you are fermenting your vinegar, but you can filter them out once you are done fermenting and are ready to bottle.

      I have read about these critters making an appearance in bottled vinegar which was filtered. Again, it is more of a nuisance and unappealing addition than a detrimental situation. If you want to keep the vinegar and use it without consuming the eels then you will have to filter the vinegar through a coffee filter before using it.

  14. Can you use the "waste" from making applesauce with a food mill as scraps for making vinegar? I'm 2.5 weeks into my first attempt using such waste, following the instructions for scraps, and the solids are not sinking. There's a yeasty, almost alcoholic, smell to the mixture, but not exceptionally strong; I haven't been brave enough to taste it. Any suggestions on determining when to remove the solids, or even when a batch has failed? Thanks for the great post!

    1. Kelsey,
      I now people who use the scraps from crushing cider and making pies and apple sauce. Sure it is all useable. The only step you want to carefully observe is to strain the pulp and smaller bits out of your ferment after the original fermenting phase. I would use several layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter (filter will take longer and you will use many so it's kind of a chore). After you stain it let it ferment as mentioned above.
      At 2.5 weeks you are ready to strain and begin your fermenting. Apples vary. Temperature and on and on. There really is no perfect recipe which makes it fun. You have to stay connected with your project which it sounds like you are.
      In the initial stage of fermenting you are simply allowing the apple scraps to lend their sugars to make alcohol and it sounds like you have it. Sometimes it smells like nail polish and sometimes the odor is very mild- again it's all about the apples, sugar content, temperature. But be assured after a week or two you have extracted enough sugar to ferment into vinegar.
      Make sure to push the scraps down frequently during this initial process so they do not mold on the surface. Note that you may see a white film on the surface and that is fine. It is just mold you want to avoid.
      Thanks for asking and please ask more if you need!

    2. Thanks for the response! I promptly went and strained out the solids as soon as I read your response - and I do have to say I think I'll feed applesauce scraps to the chickens from now on. It took forever with all the fine pulp, even using cheesecloth. I'll try solid apple scraps next time. :-)

      I added some Braggs sediment/mother to half of the batch and am letting the other half do its own thing. Fingers crossed. Thanks so much for a great post!

    3. Thank you so much!

      My fingers are crossed!!

  15. Thanks for your excellent presentation. It makes me a lot confortable to try it. I would like to make Vinegar for use in Weed Killing formula. I need at least 20% Acetic Acid concentration. Which would be the best method to do that. Can Apple Cider Vinegar give me that or is there a better fruit such as Pinaple etc?

    1. Ya know I have researched this topic for your question and out of curiosity and I do not have a great answer for you.

      I do know about using vinegar as a weed killer but this vinegar is either in a salt solution or straight and used several times to work on the targeted weeds. I would avoid using the recipes suggesting the mixing of salt as this could render the sprayed ground inhabitable to the future growth of not only weeds but other plants.

      I have made some pretty strong fruit vinegars with nectarines and plums but to yield a 20% acetic acid content my mind travels to distillation.....?

  16. I made some with apple peels on oct 5 (this yr) & I forgot about it! A mother has formed on the top, do you think it is still good? The peelings have sunk to the bottom of the jar. What should I do ? thanks

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. I was mistaken, there was no mother on top. I strained the peelings out. Should I let it sit for awhile longer? thanks

    1. Sometimes it takes longer than others. Much of this has to do with temperature and light.

      I would have let it go a while longer to give it a chance.

      I hope it worked out!

  18. Have really enjoyed reading all the information presented, but it has brought a few questions to mind. How do you know if your home made apple cider vinegar goes bad? Does it smell or taste a certain way? Will it make you ill ? Does pasturizing it keep it from going bad ? Also ...what makes it go bad so that it can be prevented in future batches ?

  19. Thanks for all the great information..... and it has led to a few questions I have. How do you know if your apple cider vinegar has spoiled ? Does it smell / taste different ? Will it make you ill? If you pasturize the vinegar before bottling, will it keep it from going bad? Also, what makes it go bad so I can be more carefull with future batches? Thanks !

  20. Well, I followed your instructions carefully. I feel like the apple pieces/cores did ferment. It became bubbly, but not as much in your picture. After a few weeks, the pieces dropped to the bottom of my jar as you described. I strained them out, then the waiting began. I was fascinated with this process. I am stumped, though. I never got a thick "mother" on top. I had pieces of something that formed on the sides then over a period of time, dropped to the bottom. I am not sure what went wrong, or maybe it's right. Any thoughts?

  21. I would like to thank you for the efforts that you have made in writing this article about Apple Cider Vinegar. This is exactly what I need, Thanks a lot. Keep blogging. :)

  22. How do I use the mother that formed during the first batch to continue making future batches. I would assume you would have to mix some of the previous vinegar with the mother but then what else do you add and in what ratio? thanks!

  23. Hi,

    First, thanks for the great post!

    I've read in some history books that people in the past would leave things around and it would turn to vinegar on it's own....is it possible for me to do the same.

    Can I, for example, put all the ingredients in the jar, put in something to weigh the apple pieces down, secure with a cloth and leave it as is until i smell that it has turned to vinegar. I mean, will it turn into vinegar without manipulation (stirring, straining, etc)? After it turns into vinegar I would strain it etc.

    Is this possible?


    1. Nature will find a way.

      Why yes! This, as your reading has presented is exactly how this all got started and is essentially done. The only reason for all of the "manipulation" is to ensure a standard procedure and result. I however like the whole mad scientist approach.

      My only suggestion is to keep an eye and nose on your ferments once they have a mother growing. Taste them from time to time and then remove when you are satisfied. Leaving the vegetation/ sediment in the vinegar for to long could result in a muddy or spoiled flavor.

      Thanks for reading and asking!

  24. I am enjoying reading these comments, as I am ready to filter and bottle my apple cider vinegar. However, when I opened my batch I noted some fruit flies in the batch. Can these be filtered out? and is the batch safe to consume
    Regards, Barb

    1. The fruit flies are a nuisance. The vinegar is safe to consume however there are a couple of steps you will want to focus on.

      Be sure to strain your vinegar through an unbleached coffee filter as opposed to cheesecloth. This will ensure that no bugs get into your vinegar and continue to bother it and you.

      Another step to really ensure your vinegar is safe is to pasteurize it after straining as mentioned in my post. This will ensure that there is no contamination in your vinegar. The drawback is that your vinegar is not raw now.

      I have had large batches visited my these pests and as long as I filtered through an unbleached coffee filter (I didn't pasteurize) my vinegar was fine.

      Thank you for asking.

  25. Making vinegar for the first time, we've had a ton of apples this year. I just strained the apples out of my first batch, a half gallon jar, and afterwards thought the apples were mostly liquid--I ended up with only one quart of vinegar. Do you ever mash the apples right before you strain them out? Seems like I lost 3/4 of my liquid down the drain. I still have two more jars that are waiting for the apples to sink.

    1. Hi Deb,

      Yeah the apples do absorb so much liquid that it seems wasteful to throw the out.
      When I am making vinegar for sale (the vinegar will be out of my care and attention) I do not disturb the pieces of apple when straining for I do not want any residual material of the apple which could get into my vinegar and start aging, giving the vinegar a bad flavor and shorten it's storage life.
      If I am making vinegar for my own use and experimenting I will firmly yet gently (oxymoron? you get it...) press on the apple pieces to squeeze out more of the liquid for use. I usually do this in the fermenting container first and then pour the mash into my cheesecloth lined strainer where I will press a little more. Note that when I do this I will either add a few more layers of cheesecloth to my strainer OR I will once again strain the vinegar through a new batch of cheesecloth.
      You really just want to minimize the sediment. This sediment will have a tendency to turn rancid in tie giving the vinegar an off flavor.
      I hope you are getting good results. Since I wrote this post I have moved and the simple change in climate (micro) has had a big impact on my ferments. Temperature is the biggest factor. Recently I have had some vinegar take twice as long to get started.

      Thanks for reading!

  26. Dear Graham,

    Thanks for the apple cider vinegar post, all I was searching over the net for this useful information and finally end here.

    I am from india, and i wish to make apple cider vinegar in bulk, i need to make 500 liters every 3 months and i dont know how to make this in bulk can you help?

    Also, Raw sugar is not available, can we mix crushed sugar cane juice instead of raw sugar? if yes than how much quantity?

    I am very fond of ancient Indian ayurved treatment, as i believe it is all natural treatment without any chemicals or side effects, by the way i have heard that apple cider vinegar is one of the main ingredients in a medicine that helps in heart blockage removal and to avoid heart surgery. keeping this in mind, I am interested in making this vinegar in bulk.

  27. Wow, I had no idea you'd answered my question until I came back to look over your instructions again, for some reason I didn't get a notice even though the box is checked. Thanks! I just brought my jars up from the basement, plan to taste test them tomorrow. Two are in quart jars, half full. One was made from apple chunks, the other from my home-made juice. They look about the same, with a 1/4" mother on top. The third jar is a half gallon and what appears to be TWO mothers, one about 1/2" thick on top and a 1/4" thick one half way down in the vinegar. Have you had this happen? Weird! I don't see your email address, if you want email me at debbie@theherbanfarmer.com and I can send you a photo.

  28. Hello... Thanks for this outstanding post. I'm currently making my first ACV. I'm making it from whole apples and it's now a month old. Please, my question is, when do I remove the apple pieces? Thanks in advance.

  29. Hello... Thanks for this outstanding post. I'm currently making my first ACV. I'm making it from whole apples and it's now a month old. Please, my question is, when do I remove the apple pieces? Thanks in advance.

  30. A few months ago I stopped using commercial shampoo. In it's place I use baking soda as a mild scrub and apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse. It has been working great (much to my surprise) but apple cider vinegar isn't cheap so I looked up how to make my own. After a LOT of research I must say your blog is the most complete and easiest to understand. I plan start a batch next week, Thanks!

  31. A Mother has not formed but a slightly grey film over the top and there is beige particles which appear to be Mother particles. The taste is a nice apple vinegar taste but not as strong as Braggs. I went ahead and strained and just bottled today. This is my first try at vinegar making and now I am wondering if the grey film was a mold. Should I throw it out or do something else. Thanks!

  32. Hi, I am interested in making my own acv, and I've seen recipes online adding sugar, as in yours, as well as no added sugar, i.e. using only apples & water, but this process takes about 6 months as oppposed to 6 weeks when sugar is added from the start. What would be the pro's & cons (besides the time factor) of adding sugar or not? And do both methods have the same results/health benefits? Thank you.

  33. I hope I am not being tedious in asking this, but I didn't see a question exactly like this yet in the blog: I want to purchase raw apple cider from an apple ranch here in my area, and add a growing mother from Bragg's apple cider vinegar to it to make my own. Will this work? (The mother started growing in a jar placed in a warm place by my mom, and it is now the size of my doubled up fist! ) I want really bad to try this because I go through a quart of vinegar every two weeks using it to dissolve my kidney stones, but I don't want to waste $10 on a gallon of cider if this is a bad idea. Thanks for this great info!

  34. Hi! I like your article but I was wondering isn't it healthier not to filter the vinegar ? Just looking for a remedy and I would like to hear your own opinion . Thank you !

  35. Hi!

    Thank you for the great tips!

    I started my very first container of apple cider vinegar about 2 week ago. I chopped the apples in chuncks instead of using scrapes. And I used the normal white sugar. I see bubbles forming on top. And have been pushing my apples down + stiring it every couple days. I dont smell anything strong though. Is that normal? Also i was wondering if placing it near the hot air vent would speed things up. Right now its under the kitchen sink.