Why Homemade Vinegar?
I have already shared a little bit about my accidental venture into vinegar making, pear vinegar to be exact. I shall recap:
Pear tree gives me bumper crop of pears, I have never canned before so I am scrambling to learn the ins and outs of pear butter, pear jam, pear sauce. I am on my last few ounces of apple cider vinegar which I use for a lot of foods and for health reasons. Ladies and gentlemen: ACV is excellent for maintaining urinary tract health. It is good for controlling candida yeast overgrowth. It can even help with fighting infections.
So I am running out of my organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar, I have a ton of pears and I wonder, just wonder how difficult can it be to turn these pears into vinegar. But I don't want to spare pears to make vinegar. Heading to the internet, where we know everything is true and free, I find a few posts on how to make homemade vinegar. One appeals to me because it is so simple. I love simple!
Peelings, cores, jar, a little water, splash of previous batch of vinegar and a few weeks. The result is homemade vinegar. I can do this!
What I Did -- Making my First Pear Vinegar
My first venture into canning is pear sauce. Really easy, no pectin, all goes well. I am peeling, coring, and into 1/2 gallon mason jars go the peelings and cores, even the stems, as I prepare my pears for saucing. I only fill halfway at this point leaving room for fresh pear scraps (the introduction of fresh scraps gives the ferment more sugar). Over the next week I continue to process pears. I add peels and cores to each of the several jars I have started, make sure there is more water than fruit and then just cover with paper towels. I hadn't discovered the wonders of flour sack towels yet, and I actually had a roll of paper towels, scrounged around for a few rubber bands (not an easy task in my house because they are never in the drawer where they belong). I placed these in the corner of my cabinets between my coffee maker and stove. Nice and warm.
I reread the directions for making vinegar at least three to four more times because nothing gets into my memory easily. I took a butter knife and poked the fruit down once a day and watched it bubble, begin to smell like alcohol and eventually start to get a vinegary smell. I love that smell!
I ended up with five 1/2 gallon containers of vinegar ferment, all in different stages.
Step by Step
1. Prepare your container by washing, rinsing, rinsing some more and allowing it to air dry.
2. Place fruit peelings and cores in your container, until about half full. Add water to about 1" above fruit. If you will not have additional scraps fill the container to just below the shoulder ensuring that the water is at least 1" above the fruit. Do not overfill container.
3. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of an unfiltered vinegar such as Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar ensuring that some of the "mother" is included. Stir the vinegar into the fruit scraps.
4. Cover with cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
|Pear scraps Day 1|
6. Using knife push fruit back down into liquid and give it a gentle stir.
|Fruit will rise above liquid as it ferments|
|Push fruit back down daily|
8. Strain contents of jar returning the liquid to the jar (optional). Compost, ferment a second time, or feed strained fruit to livestock.
|Strain fruit from liquid|
9. Cover jar and allow to ferment a few more weeks. You might get a surprise scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) growing on top of your fruit and liquid.
|Strained and ready for second ferment|
|Scoby forming on top of fruit and liquid (I left this batch with fruit the entire 4-5 weeks)|
10. Strain again and place vinegar in sealed containers. Use as you would apple cider vinegar.
I will share with you some of the little tricks and observations I made during this accidental kitchen adventure:
- Do not overfill the containers. The fruit will rise up above the liquid level and make your covering a fruit fly magnet.
- Adding an unfiltered vinegar definitely speeds up the process. You do NOT need 1/4 cup. A tablespoon or two is plenty for 1/2 gallon.
- Strain your fruit out after you smell vinegar, about 1-2 weeks or somewhere in between. Not necessary but makes it easier. If you do this with two containers you can combine them.
- You can grow a scoby. Yes, my vinegars grew scobys. I read that these can then be added to fruit juice to start new vinegar ferments. This is on my list of things to try since I have vinegar scobys in my fridge right now (with a few chunks of pear and liquid to keep them fed).
- I kept my vinegar ferments away from my other ferments such as Kombucha and Ginger Bug. I read that the different organisms can interfere with one another (though I have no way to know for sure).
- Vinegar making is so simple even I could do it on the fly while in the midst of other projects. You can, too!