The saga of Jesse’s experimentation with apple cider vinegar continues!
After the first successful batch, I had a couple of batches go bad on me, so I figured I’d do another post covering the mistakes I’ve made and the fixes that I’m working on.
Just to recap, the process of making apple cider vinegar is pretty simple (full post here). Take your apple scraps and put them in a wide mouthed jar covered by a couple of inches of water. Cover the mouth of the jar tightly with a cheesecloth, stir a couple of times a day for 3 weeks, and voila! After the bubbly booziness, the resulting liquid will have turned acidic due to the life processes of various micro-organisms, and there you have apple cider vinegar.
As long as you don’t mess anything up…
The second batch of vinegar that I attempted, I had the idea of adding yeast to speed the fermentation process. Suffice to say that I was perhaps over-exuberant and the yeast population expanded exponentially, to less than desirable results.
With the third batch I didn’t add yeast (relying only on the wild yeast that already existed in the apples themselves), but then I also didn’t stir the resulting concoction quite often enough, and after the apples absorbed enough water to expand, they basically started trying to climb out of the jar. It was not a pretty sight, with any apple material that was above the water line developing a thriving civilization of mold/bacteria.
With this most recent batch, I decided to make a simple mechanical device to keep the apples below the water level and make sure that they fermented properly, without actually going bad.
I used a spare cottage cheese container (cottage cheese being the one packaged food item that we’re allowing ourselves, we have a number of them), and a wood barbecue skewer, pictured below:
I cut little slits in the container, and shaped it into a spiral that would fit into the mouth of the jar, and hold the apples below the water. Observe!
So far, it appears to be working fairly well. The “mother of vinegar” bacteria culture is collecting on the device a little bit, but nothing too serious that a little rinse hasn’t taken care of. I’m still stirring the mixture every day, but now I don’t have to worry about running home from work to make sure that it gets done on any kind of rigid time schedule. By the end of next week, the vinegar should be ready to go!