Apple Cider Vinegar / Pineapple Vinegar from Cores & Rinds: Some Notes

Reginald SmithApple Cider Vinegar, Making Vinegar, Pineapple Vinegar15 Comments

 

Vinegar fermentation is becoming more of the rage everyday. Often overshadowed by other fermentations, vinegar is coming to its own as a new generation of homemakers and hobbyists eagerly make their own.

This is great and  I suggest everyone try it at least once. There are a couple of techniques that are common and popular I want to give my own personal advice on to ensure success.

A cheap way to make apple cider vinegar is from submerged apple cores and skins in water with sugar (judiciously) added. Same with pineapple vinegar using rinds and adding sugar to the water it is submerged in. For an authentic Central American flavor, use piloncillo brown cane sugar cones like you can find in many Latin American markets.

This is a great experiment and usually works very well. In short the wild yeasts in the fruit ferment the sugar to alcohol while the wild acetic acid bacteria simultaneously ferment the alcohol to acetic acid (vinegar).

Many websites detail this method and I have nothing against it. I would just advise a few things that are not often mentioned or suggested.

  1. Cleanliness – obviously wash out the jar first with soap and water. I would also sanitize by filling it with water and adding 3/4 teaspoon of unscented bleach per quart of water and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Here is where I might ruffle some feathers – I am generally not a huge fan of wild, uncontrolled fermentation, especially if you are not measuring quantities like pH, acidity, etc. to monitor progress. I suggest successive fermentation as well. First, after adding the apple cores to the empty jar, I would heat the water to cover them to at least 160 F or even up to boiling and then pour this on the apple cores in the jar. Obviously this kills the wild yeast and vinegar bacteria, but it also kills spoilage bacteria and most mold spores. Make sure the cores or rinds are completely submerged to prevent opportunistic mold growth.
  3. Use one packet of store bought brewing (not baking) yeast and “activate” the yeast by adding it to a small amount of lukewarm water in a separate cup.  After the water in the jar has cooled to room temperature, add the activated yeast slurry. Cover the top with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
  4. It will take a couple of days but the yeast will ferment the sugar rapidly to alcohol until they stop fizzing. At this point you have your “hard cider”.
  5. Now add mother, it can be ours or the raw apple cider vinegars (Bragg’s, Heinz, Fleischmann’s, private label, etc.) Add about 1/4 of the volume of the jar in mother. After a week or two a mother should form on the surface. From here the fermentation will progress until you have good vinegar. Keep the top covered as fruit flies love vinegar.

The above apply equally to pineapple vinegar. These steps will help the fermentation proceed faster since the commercial yeast and mothers work more rapidly. It also prevents stuck fermentations, contamination, mold, and other issues that come up hoping that the wild microbes do the trick. Granted, apples and pineapples have malic and other acids who should lower the pH and prevent spoilage on their own but unless you are measuring pH and controlling sugar, you can be rolling the dice on how well it works.

As a final note, if you are not actively measuring the acidity (using titration) do not use vinegar made in this fashion for canning. Canning requires 4%+ acidity vinegar, 5%+ to be safe. If you are using vinegar that “just tastes right” it could fall dangerously below these standards.

15 Comments on “Apple Cider Vinegar / Pineapple Vinegar from Cores & Rinds: Some Notes”

  1. Hi, I have access to an abundance of apples. I also have a 50-gallon food grade plastic barrel and would like to make as much as possible. Is it OK to use the whole apple in a chopped up state? How would I gauge how much to use (lbs of apples)? I can test and titrate, that would not be a problem. I still feel very lost from reading all of this. Can you point me to a recipe and instructions for making such a large batch? I would be very grateful. I am not in a hurry, so the vinegar taking 6 months to mature from start to finish is fine with me. I would like to learn the “old way” of making vinegar, but from reading your blog, it is safer to use newer methods? Is that correct?

    Thank you,

    Terri Towner

    1. Yes, you can use chopped whole apples, but not unchopped whole apples. I would use 4 lbs apples per gallon of apples along with pectinase suitable to the volume you are making, let it sit overnight and then add sugar as needed to get the final mash to around 12 Brix or so. Then immediately pitch yeast and let it ferment which should take 1-2 weeks. Once this is done, you need to add raw vinegar. Depending on how much vinegar you are trying to make I would recommend about 1/4 the volume of the mash being raw vinegar though you can try to start with less and see if it begins to form a mother. Let me know if this helps.

    1. You can basically remove them once the “fizzing” of alcoholic fermetnation has stopped. However, if a mother of vinegar has already formed across the surface it is best to leave them rather than disturb or sink the mother.

  2. At what acid percentage will yeast die? The reason I ask is I am experimenting with cider vinegar and I would like to at touch of sweetness back into the finished vinegar before bottling in the form of fresh cider heated to 150 degrees F for 10 minutes. If my cider vinegar had a finished acidity of 5% and I try to add 5% of the finished volume of vinegar as new fresh cider, will there be yeast left alive to ferment (and explode) the bottled vinegar. I am trying not to heat the finished vinegar because I wish the “mother” to remain alive. Basically, I want dead yeast in an unpasteurized vinegar and I do not wish to use heat or chemicals so is there an acid level that will prevent yeast growth? Thanks,

    pete

    1. Yeast begin tapping out around 1% acidity so if you have a finished acidity of 5%, you can add sweet cider to it there will be no additional alcoholic fermentation or gas build up.

  3. Is a wispy white film the mother? I have made vinegar a few times and never gotten the gelatinous blob described. I have not used it for canning just to clean with and in salad dressing and laundry. Making pear and mint now and after almost 2 months it has the white film but no mother.

    1. Some species or strains of acetic acid bacteria only make a wispy white film. If they ferment vinegar fine, it is all the same in the end. It should be fine but if you ever use for canning make sure you send a sample to a wine lab to ensure it is at least 5% titratable acidity (5g / 100 mL).

  4. Hi, can I make same thing with sweet cherries? I wanna use brown sugar and to add the mother vinegar from my last ACV. Do you think that will work? Thanks!

    1. Yes, this should work fine with sweet cherries. Add about 1lb of brown sugar per gallon with the cherries and then yeast. Once the bubbling stops, add the mother.

  5. Thank you so much for the fast reply! Just in time 🙂 I usually do not add yeast. Leave it for about a week, then strain the fruit and cover with cheesecloth again for 2 months. Do you think it would work that way? Thanks again.

  6. Hello… I just saw someone use a technique of juicing all of their apples rind and skins instead of cutting them. Then, instead of using sugar of any kind, he used brewer’s yeast. He then proceeded to add some Bragg’s ACV for the mother. What do you think of this technique? Thank you!

    1. This will work fine. I recommend using brewer’s yeast to start the alcoholic fermentation. I would not add the Bragg’s ACV until the alcohol fermentation is complete (bubbling stops). This would be 1-2 weeks after pitching the yeast.

      Remember to prime the yeast before adding them to the juice by letting them sit in lukewarm water for 15 minutes first.

  7. Hi…thanks for sharing….I’m dabbling with making vinegar using tropical fruits….started off with jackfruit rags and feel somewhat embarrassed now having acquired The Artisanal Vinegar Maker’s Handbook and coming across your site…
    It’s now clear to me that what I’ve done is ‘wild fermentation’ . Measuring pH using pH strips used for kombucha indicate that my ‘vinegar’ have a pH of 2.5 to 3.0.
    I’ve filtered and covered the vinegars but still see a floating layer on the surfaces and some sedimentation too.
    I’d appreciate your feedback on what’s happening.

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment. Wild fermentation isn’t anything to be embarrassed about, it’s just it can be hard to control and predict at times and is slower. I can’t comment on what the pH is exactly if you are using strips (I recommend a pH meter personally for accuracy) but if the strips are correct, 2.5-3.0 is usually complete vinegar. It is best to send it to a wine lab to measure titratable acidity (which should be more than 4%) but if you believe it is done, you need to cover it airtight so a mother will not re-form. The other option is to pasteurize it at 140 F / 60 C for at least 15 minutes.

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