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Photo: dolljoints/Flickr
Got apples? Never buy bottled apple cider vinegar again (and reap the benefits!)

If you find yourself working with apples in any capacity — trimming, coring, slicing, peeling or perhaps simply wondering whether they’re too past their crunchy prime to make it into that salad or sandwich — consider vinegar. It’s a by-product of fermenting fruit into alcohol, which is where the cider in cider vinegar comes into play (or in this case, a simple homemade apple infusion). In short: Yes, you can most certainly make your own apple cider vinegar, and as with any DIY kitchen project, you’re more likely to use it if you make it yourself.

(Photo: kentgoldman/Flickr)
 Tip: Using a spiral peeler results in an even tangle of peels that is easier to submerge in liquid. (Photo: kentgoldman/Flickr.)

No need to use edible apple flesh here — you can make a potent batch of apple cider vinegar using the cast-off bits and plenty of patience. Accumulate scraps and cores from five to six apples or more if you want to make a larger batch (any kind will do the trick). If you’re not baking or willing to trim and eat a half-dozen apples at one time, you can collect the scraps in a sealed zip-top bag in the fridge for a few days. Any brown bits won’t affect the finished product, which, by the way, pretty much never expires.

  1. Place the scraps in an extra-clean glass jar and add a few scant teaspoons of sugar, then pour in filtered water until submerged. Make sure all the scraps are covered or mold will grow on the exposed pieces (a surefire game-ruiner). You can weigh the scraps down with a smaller clean jar to make sure none of them peek out.
  2. Cover the mouth of the jar with breathable material — cheesecloth, paper towel and coffee filter all work great — and secure it around the mouth with a rubber band.
  3. Place the jar in a warm, dark place (in the cabinet under the kitchen sink is a good bet) and let it sit for two to three weeks.
  4. Remove and uncover the jar, strain out the solids, then re-cover the same way and allow to sit in the warm, dark place for a month or so.
  5. Taste for acidity (the longer you let it sit, the more sour it will become), then remove and transfer to a bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Voilà! You’ve just made apple cider vinegar. Now you know what to do with all those beets in your garden.