Making homemade vinegar is a simple and innovative way to use summer or winter produce to create a healthy condiment your family can enjoy all year long. Although homemade fruit vinegars are usually used to flavor salads, you can also use use homemade vinegar to clean and disinfect your home and yard, remove pet odors, polish chrome, relieve sunburn and even curb your appetite.
Summer Fruit Vinegar
Making homemade vinegar is an excellent way to use peels and cores from summer garden fruit. You can use any fruit, including peaches, plums, apples, pears and even bananas. Besides fruit you'll need a large enamel pot, crock or glass jar, cheesecloth, kitchen twine, distilled water and ½ cup of raw, unfiltered vinegar.
Peel and core the fruit. Place the peels and cores in a large bowl. Fill your vinegar container with boiling water. Let the boiling water sit in the container for about 5 minutes, then discard the water. Add the fruit cores and peels to the container and completely cover them with distilled water. Cover the top of the container with cheesecloth, and secure the cheesecloth to the container with the kitchen twine. Place the container in a warm, dark area of your house. Stir the mixture every day. After two or three weeks, you'll notice a vinegar-like smell. Taste the vinegar daily until you are satisfied with the flavor, then strain it through the cheesecloth and store it in glass bottles.
Apple Cider Vinegar
It is best to make apple cider vinegar from fall and winter apples because the summer varieties do not contain enough sugar to complete the fermentation process. You will also need one yeast cake for every 5 gallons of cider that you make and a large jar, enamel pot or crock, cheesecloth and kitchen twine.
Wash and core the apples. In a large bowl, crush the apples into a pulp with a meat mallet or other kitchen instrument. Secure a piece of cheesecloth over the bowl with the kitchen twine and strain the apple juice into the vinegar container. Repeat this process until you have used all the apples and separated all the juice. Crumble the yeast cake into the juice and stir. Cover the container with cheesecloth, secure with kitchen twine and store in a warm, dark place. Allow the vinegar to ferment for three to four weeks, then taste it daily until it has achieved your desired flavor. Strain the apple cider vinegar through the cheesecloth and store it in wooden, glass or plastic bottles.