It's apple cider season, and you know what that means, right? Well, for one thing, it means drinking tons of apple cider. But it also means making apple cider vinegar.
That's what I have brewing in that gallon jug right there.
You may wonder why I have it listed as a home remedy instead of a cooking ingredient. While this makes for a delicious cooking or salad vinegar, we started consuming (and now making) raw vinegar for health reasons.
The health benefits of raw vinegar are numerous, but the thing we were most impressed by is its effect on blood sugar.
You see, in people with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, raw vinegar can make a significant difference in blood sugar after eating, working on a principle similar to that of diabetes drugs like metformin. Recommended dosage is 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 8oz of water before a meal, followed by more water to rinse the acid off your teeth and protect the enamel.
It's also really good for coughs and colds, and has been recommended as a treatment for food poisoning, arthritis, and skin problems. Wonder drug? Well, not quite, but it's still pretty impressive.
So, how do you make this miracle tonic? I'm almost embarrassed to make a whole blog post out of this, because it's so simple.
First, get some unpasteurized apple cider. If you live in a state where you can't get raw apple cider, you will have to make your own. When you make it, be sure to use unwashed organic apples. The peels will contain natural yeasts that will colonize your cider, which you don't want to wash off, but you really need to make sure you're getting safe, pesticide-free apples if you want to take advantage of natural yeasts. If you can't find any, go ahead and wash your apples. It will be ok.
Next, pour your apple cider into a clean (preferably sterile), nonreactive container. Be sure there's some extra room in there, because things are going to get fizzy and bubbly for a while. Cover the container with cheesecloth or another porous material, and hold it down with rubber bands or strings (see above photo).
Now, let it sit out. Within 24 hours or so, you should notice that your cider has fermented. It will probably be producing a lot of bubbles and it will smell awesome. You will have a hard time stopping Mr. Scrimp from finding it and drinking it during this stage.
You have two choices. You can trust the fermentation process to go fine without help, and just leave your jar of fizzy apple cider in a dark, room-temperature spot for a few weeks until it isn't bubbly anymore and it smells like vinegar, or you can help it along a little bit. I did this by extracting the mother (the slimy, dark brown goo) from a bottle of Bragg Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar and adding it to my fermenting batch, so that I could guarantee my cider is being colonized by the bacteria I want. Next time, I can just reserve some of my own vinegar (about a cup should do) to start batch #2.
(Honestly, we could have just kept using Bragg raw vinegar, but homemade is cheaper!)
Try to keep the jar or jug or other fermentation vessel out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, make sure it gets a supply of oxygen, and give it a gentle swish once in a while. Once all the bubbles are gone, you should be good to go!
Note: Because you can't standardize the acidity in homemade vinegar, it is not appropriate for canning applications.