How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar at Home

How to make apple cider vinegar at home from apple scraps

Every fall we take at least one trip to an apple orchard near us. They have family-friendly activities, wonderful local canned goods for sale, and of course, apples. So many apples! My kids love applesauce so I take advantage of the apple season to make homemade applesauce so that we can enjoy it throughout the year.

Don’t Waste Apple Cores and Peels!

I don’t always peel the apples when I make applesauce but if you do take the time to peel the apples (maybe you even prefer your applesauce that way), you can use the peels and the cores to make apple cider vinegar. This way you have virtually no waste!

It is also totally possible to make apple cider vinegar from the whole apple so don’t worry if you don’t have leftover peels and cores from anything.

When I make applesauce, I typically do large quantities at a time so I have enough peels and cores for a batch of apple cider vinegar. If you only occasionally use apples, you can store the peels and cores in the freezer until you have enough gathered to start a batch.

If you don’t have an apple orchard near by, farmer’s markets are another great place to get organically grown apples. Just check with the farmer. Organic apples are ideal for apple cider vinegar, especially if you will be using the peel. If you cannot find organic apples, peel them first. Discard the peel and just use the inside portion.

What Is So Special About Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has many healthy uses. It is made through the process of fermentation and is high in phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Hippocrates is believed to have prescribed ACV for a variety of ailments.

ACV for Digestion and Heartburn

ACV is the base of spicy cider which is a great remedy to help quickly knock out a cold.

Amazingly, and contrary to what seems logical, ACV also has a valuable role in preventing heartburn and aiding digestion. In most cases heartburn is actually caused by too little stomach acid which slows down digestion. Food and gasses put pressure on the stomach, causing stomach contents (including stomach acid) to leak back into the esophagus. When you remedy heartburn with ACV it increases stomach acid and helps the body digest the food more quickly. This prevents the build-up and subsequent leakage which causes heartburn. You can read more about natural heartburn relief here.

ACV Topically

In addition to its many benefits when taken internally, it is wonderful for the skin. When added to bathwater, it helps to naturally restore balance to the skin’s pH. It also helps kill bacteria and fungus on the skin which can lead to a host of problems, including eczema, dandruff, and other skin conditions.

Because of its great pH balancing benefits and dandruff preventing abilities, it makes a great hair rinse that replaces conditioner and can be used after shampooing with a natural shampoo.

Unfiltered, Unpasteurized, And With “The Mother”

Most of the ACV you find in the supermarket is pasteurized and highly filtered. These versions still work well for cleaning but they are not optimal for internal and culinary uses because most of the benefits are gone once the “mother” is filtered out and the vinegar is pasteurized.

There are a few available that are “with the Mother” which means they leave the beneficial bacteria that develops during the fermentation process in the vinegar. When you make your own ACV you can be sure that your vinegar retains this beneficial “mother.”

Important Notes:

  • This recipe uses sugar. The sugar is necessary to “feed” the bacteria but most (if not all) of the sugar is fermented out. People often ask if they can use honey. The short answer is yes, but it really does not work as well and causes the whole process to take longer. And to be honest, because the sugar is broken down, there really isn’t anything to be concerned about as far as the effect it will have on blood sugar.
  • Make sure all of your equipment and your jar are very clean. It is important to make sure you don’t introduce any bacteria other than what is naturally occurring in the process.
  • My favorite apple variety to use for applesauce is Gala so my scraps are usually a majority Gala. However, you get the best flavor if you have a mix of varieties. I use mostly Gala, but I will throw in a mixture of other types for the rest. Some I have used are Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and McIntosh. It just adds some complexity to the flavor.
  • White scum is going to form on the top. This is normal. Mold, however, is not good and will spoil your ACV. Be sure that the apples stay submerged under the water. This will help prevent mold. You can use a fermentation weight or even just a smaller glass jar (thoroughly clean the outside) and set it on top of the apples to keep them submerged.
  • Gnats and flies love ACV so you need to make sure your jar is well covered. However, it needs to be able to breath and release gasses created from the fermentation process so do not use a solid lid. Cheesecloth or a coffee filter work well.

How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar

Before starting to make ACV, there are a few things you’ll need to have on hand first:

Supplies:

  • Clean jar – you can use any size jar (I have used a wide mouth quart jar and a half gallon pickle jar.)
  • Organic apple scraps – enough to fill your jar 3/4 of the way full
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Filtered water
  • Fermentation weight or small glass jar
  • Cheesecloth or coffee filter
  • Rubberband

How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar With The Mother (Easy Way)

Apple cider vinegar with "the mother" has many benefits and it is simple to make at home with some organic apple scraps and a little time. Here's how...

Ingredients

  • Organic apple scraps - enough to fill your jar 3/4 of the way full
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Filtered water

Instructions

  1. Clean your jar very well and let air dry.
  2. Fill jar 3/4 full with apple scraps. If you are using whole apples, roughly chop them up before you put them in the jar.
  3. Dissolve 1 tablespoon cane sugar into 1 cup of water. You may need to double or triple this depending on the size of your jar. I would start with doubling this ratio for the quart jar and tripling it for the half gallon size. You need to use enough to completely cover the apples.
  4. Pour sugar water over the apples until they are completely submerged.
  5. Weigh down the apples with a fermentation weight or with the small glass jar. Any apples that are exposed to the air could mold.
  6. Cover with the cheesecloth or coffee filter and secure with the rubber band.
  7. Store in a dark place that stays pretty consistently at room temperature. I put mine in a cabinet in the kitchen.
  8. Leave it for approximately 3 weeks. Check on it every few days to make sure the apples are staying under the water and to make sure no mold is growing.
  9. After 3 weeks, it will still smell fairly sweet. Strain the apples pieces out and return the liquid to the jar. (Compost the scraps.)
  10. Recover and put the jar back in a dark spot for another 3-4 weeks, stirring every few days.
  11. When the ACV has reached the "tartness" you like you can put a lid on it or transfer it to a different jar with a lid and start using it!

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Final Notes

At some point while making apple cider vinegar, you will probably notice a SCOBY-like “thing” that forms on the top. This is the “mother.” You can remove it or you can just leave it floating in your vinegar.

If you don’t want to make your own apple cider vinegar, it is becoming more common for grocery stores to carry organic ACV “with the mother.” Or you can buy it online.

How do you use apple cider vinegar? Will you try your hand at making your own?

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Reader Comments

  1. I suffer from gall stones so I always keep apple Cider vinegar in my cupboard. One large tot, some honey and hot (not boiling as that will spoil the honey) water, drink – 15 min later the pain should start to ease if not go away! I am eternally grateful to have discovered how apple cider helps in this way. Hope it helps someone else.

  2. Hi Katie …. What are your recommendations for throughly sanitizing all equipment used without using harsh chemicals?

    • You could use any sanitizing detergent found at a home brew store. I use a product called Bee-Brite.

  3. ACV is good for so many things…my overworked, cracking, bleeding heals love a soak in hot water and ACV then a good scrub and slathering of calendula balm. My blood glucose levels and my immune system respond well to a tablespoon or two in a small glass of water (sometimes I add some tincture of cayenne or use it with grated horseradish if I’m stuffy during allergy or cold season). It’s great for washing windows, disinfecting countertops (follow 10 seconds of ACV with 10 seconds of hydrogen peroxide and you’ve got almost all food born bugs covered). Use as a final rinse for really shiny. detangled hair-the smell goes away as your hair dries. The list goes on and on.

  4. Easy enough! Sharing with clients as ACV is something I recommend often.

  5. Do you take the seeds out of the core, or just keep them in? Also, can you reuse the scoby? If so, how?

  6. What a coincidence, I just started making vinegar last night after making an apple pie! This is my first time and I never thought it would be so easy.

  7. Just in time! Today I was just given 2 grocery bags of apples, Gravensteins and Grannys. Tomorrow its apple butter and AVC getting started. Thanks for the recipe. O BTW: Instead of doing disposable like cheesecloth or coffee filters. You might try what my grandmothers used to call butter muslin. Today, it’s called unbleached muslin. I buy it 3 yards at a time so I can use it for butter, making mozzarella cheese, jelly, when straining infused vinegars and oils. I like being able to reuse instead of just tossing—gives me more $$$ for other things. 🙂
    Next to try making your slow cooker cider too.

    • You really shouldn’t reuse your muslin after a project. Bacteria can stay attached to the fibers and introduce unwanted bacteria into your next project and ruining it – at best or make you and your family sick, possibly very sick – at worst. It’s cheap! Best to start with a fresh cut each project.

      • I appreciate your concern about the bacteria. Unbleached muslin has been used this way for centuries as far as I know. After use, you wash it, rinse, then sterilize the muslin. Remember there are good and bad bacteria–which is why vinegar is so easy to make. I helped my mother and grandmothers using the same method. Now, though, I have had my recycled muslin tested and it passed standards, so I will stick with the family method.

  8. Fantastic! Sounds so simple, can’t wait to try it! Have you tried using grapes? Would it be the same process? Can you keep the “mother” and continue to uste it for making more vinegar? I know that in Italy, people keep the mother feed it with fresh wine (left over!) and keep it growing to produce more vinegar.

    • Yes you can! That way it only takes half the time for the next batch.!

  9. This might sound silly but I never go through all my apples at once. Can I freeze my cores until I have an adequate amount?

    • Hi Ambra, There was a comment in her instructions that I almost missed. She said: ” If you only occasionally use apples, you can store the peels and cores in the freezer until you have enough gathered to start a batch.” Since I live alone I’m soooo happy that they can be frozen. Yaaay!

  10. Hi, i shall definitely be trying my hand at homemade ACV,ironicly i was in the health food are of the Chemist today and came across a bottle of ACV it did not claim to be organic or include the (mother) but it was €10 for 500mls,seems a bit expensive as i want to soak my hands and feet in it so i would need to buy many bottles, is it just me or does anyone else feel that it is much cheaper to eat and feed your family on really unhealthy food vs healthy food,

    • That it is. Unless you routinely eat out and do premade conventional stuff. That is as or more expensive than healthy. But you pay for food now or the doctor later! I killed my health with stress, diet, and schedule in college. Almost 2 decades later, I’m paying for it. This is why we like to make and grow our own things when we can!

  11. Can I freeze apple scraps and then thaw when I collect enough to make a batch of vinegar ?

  12. Is raw cane sugar the same as turbino?
    Brown in color?

  13. I’ve heard that apple seeds contain trace amounts of a cyanide compound. I know you are not supposed to juice apple seeds because of this. Is it OK to leave the seeds in the cores, or should they be deseeded before using?

  14. Can you substitute apples with pineapple to make pineapple vinegar, and keep the rest of the ingredients the same?

  15. Can you use the SCOBY for kombucha?

  16. Can you add commercial (no “mother”) ACV to a batch with a “mother” and turn it all into the beneficial ACV?

  17. Your instructions are pretty good. However, once the cider has developed the whitish layer on top, don’t disturb it! This is the mother working. Every time it is disturbed that layer sinks and a new one must form. So don’t stir it after you get the apple pieces out. Just cover and place in a dark closet for 3 weeks or more.

  18. This is apple scrap vinegar. ACV is made with… apple cider. I have heard that scrap vinegar is not as strong and should not be used for canning – tho i do not know how true this is. ACV is actually easier to make – as long as you are buying your cider.

  19. I made a similar recipe before but had a mold-ish thing form at the top. I’m not sure if it was actual mold or the SCOBY. Is that bad? Should I dump out the rest of my ACV?

    • A cloudy white-ish layer on top is exactly what you are looking for, so DO NOT dump it. You are on the right track.

      As it ages and works some of the white layer or layers might sink to the bottom. This is okay. Try not to disturb the jar.

  20. What kind of jar and lid do you store it I after its finished? Will a metal lid rust? I was planning to use a canning jar and metal lid.

  21. I should not have cane sugar and fruit within 4 hours of one another. Can I substitute palm sugar?

  22. FYI … It is yeast not bacteria that we need to feed. We want yeast to multiply fast (hence sugar) and suppress bacteria from spoiling the batch. ( re: ” The sugar is necessary to “feed” the bacteria…”)

  23. I stopped drinking tablespoon of a ACV in water daily once I got pregnant. I am now in 3rd trimester and fighting gestational diabetes… Should / can I restart?

  24. I’ve tried making ACV a couple times and always end up with a brown mold sometime after I filter out the apples. Curious what technique people use to filter the apple pieces out to prevent contaminating the liquid? And how do you do so without disrupting the good white film layer on the top?

    Thanks for suggestions!

  25. I’m curious; where was the brown mold? On the top or at the bottom of the jar?
    I filter out the apples after about a week of fermentation. I don’t have the white layer on top yet. I just filter the apples out through a very fine sieve. I add the mother that I have from previous batches. Then I cover with a coffee filter or cloth (and a rubber band) and stash it in the closet for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, I pull the mother layer off the top (saving it for another batch). There is usually a lot of sediment at the bottom. If you can siphon the vinegar off without disturbing that bottom layer, you get a clearer vinegar. It is hard to filter that fine stuff out. It either goes right through the sieve or, if using a coffee filter, it clogs it right away.
    BTW I don’t sterilize my jars. I just start with freshly washed and dried utensils. Maybe I have just been lucky, but I haven’t gotten mold yet.

    • Hi, I’m trying to make ACV however I’m sure I’ve seen some mould! Can i just remove the mould or should i dump the whole thing, as i don’t want to make myself or anyone else ill, any suggestions?

  26. To clear up any confusion I might have caused: There are two different processes to making vinegar. There is the fruit scraps, water, sugar and yeast to make hard cider. The second involves the hard cider and the acetobacter bacteria that creates the vinegar.

    I’m not sure about the mold except that if the mold is pink or red, you must toss the whole thing and disinfect the container and anything you used with it.

    I have not had a mold problem. I don’t know if it is because I stir the apple scraps a couple of times a day or not.

  27. Hi, i sure would try this out. But i want to find out a few things:
    1. When my ACV is completely made, and properly sealed for my use, how long do i use it before it expires? ( I don’t know if i can use it for has long as i want).
    2. What happens if i don’t stir it at all?
    3. Would the acid level have any negative effect on me if i consume often with water?

    Thanks

  28. All has gone well and I’ve three jars of yummy ACV. But as I hate waste what can I do with the apples that I’ve drained?

  29. Would it still work to make a vinegar using fruit other than apples? Like pears or peaches?

  30. Yes, you can make vinegar from the scraps of other fruits. I have made peach from the skins and bad parts of peaches.

  31. Can you add vinegar with the mother to store bought vinegar to extend it?

  32. can the vinegar be processed in a pressure cooker canner? So I may use it in other receipie’s (pickles,selsa, etc).

    • I wouldn’t unless you had tested the acid %. It has to be specific to properly preserve.

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