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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.