Easy, Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

If you live anywhere near apple country, or have access to a supply of apples, making your own apple cider vinegar is a treat. Best part of the process is that you can create ACV from the waste after making pie or apple butter or other apple goodies.

If you’ve never made homemade, organic apple cider vinegar (ACV), you’re in for a treat. Raw ACV is so simple to make, and all it really comes down to is a waiting game. The actual effort involved is very minimal, and it’s a great way to use up leftover apple scraps.

If you’re a beginner and are intimidated by fermenting, apple cider vinegar is a simple way to start, and it’s easy to tell if you’re doing it right.

Although making your own ACV is easy, raw apple cider vinegar is a powerhouse of beneficial bacteria and can be used to make healthier meals as well as homemade chemical-free cleaning supplies.

Great! So, how do you make homemade apple cider vinegar?

I personally use apple peels when making homemade apple cider vinegar in my own kitchen. It’s a great way to use up the leftovers after making pies, applesauce, and apple butter. In fact, I’ve made batches of ACV using the peels that were better than those made with the whole apple.

The basic technique is to submerge the apples under water until the ferment becomes vinegar. Before becoming a vinegar, the apples will produce a weak alcoholic cider, but don’t worry too much – it will become a vinegar in just a few more weeks.

Pretty simple, right?

But first, a decision.

If you’re going to make your own vinegar, you can use sugar or another sweetener, like honey, to kickstart the fermentation process. You don’t have to include a sweetener, but I recommend you use something to get the beneficial bacteria to grow.

In my experience, using raw organic honey instead of refined sugar yields a better product. I simply add a tablespoon to the water and stir before adding it to the jar of apple peels.

How to make raw homemade apple cider vinegar

1. Start with the peels from 6 pounds of apples. I prefer Red Delicious, but you can use whatever you want. The technique remains the same.

2. Grab a clean, sterilized mason jar, and load it with your apple scraps. Remember to leave a 1” gap at the top to allow room for air to escape.

3. Mix your sweetener with enough water to cover the scraps entirely, and add the water mixture to the mason jar. The apples need to be completely covered and remain submerged under the water. Add a weight if necessary.

4. Cover with a fermenting lid, making sure your airlock is correctly in place.

5. Let the mixture sit for two weeks, and then remove the apple pieces with a sieve. At this point, the ferment might be cider and smell like alcohol. It will turn to vinegar in due time. At this point, do not re-apply the airlock configuration. Some folks choose to cover the jar with a piece of muslin secured with a rubber band. I prefer to use a canning flat without the ring. Leaving off the ring allows the gases to escape as it ferments.

6. Let the mixture sit for another 4-6 weeks to allow the beneficial bacteria to turn it into vinegar. You’ll know when it happens – the smell is unmistakable!

More tips for homemade apple cider vinegar

If your ACV takes on a cloudy appearance, don’t worry – that’s just the beneficial bacteria doing its thing. If you see a darker mass that looks grainy – that’s a good thing. That mass is called the mother, and it’s a collection of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. It’s proof your vinegar is the real deal! As you use your vinegar, be sure to hang on to some of the mother to jump-start your next batch of ACV.

If you’ve waited 4-6 weeks and the mixture still doesn’t smell like vinegar, just let it sit longer. Because you’re working with a living organism, things don’t always go exactly by the textbook. I’ve had ferments take 8 weeks before they start to smell like vinegar.

Of course, if your ferment has black or green mold, or smells rotten, toss it. Better safe than sorry. I’ve personally never had this happen, however.

Making apple cider vinegar in your own home is really that simple, and you’ll be adding a great, healthy product to your home pantry. Give it a try!


Have a supply of apples? Try these other probiotic-rich apple recipes:


Maat van Uitert is a professional writer and homesteader based in the South. Maat is a fermenting nut who specializes in making cheeses, yogurts, probiotic sauces and condiments to spice up and create flavorful meals. You can read more about Maat and her homestead at FrugalChicken, where Maat helps everyday people achieve independence by raising chickens, learning traditional skills, and becoming more self-sufficient. You can also catch up with her on her weekly podcast, What The Cluck?!, available on iTunes now.

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