It’s one of those things I can’t unthink—now that I know I can make chicken stock from picked carcasses, I simply cannot resist doing so, even when I can barely squeeze another quart into the freezer. And now it is going to be the same way with homemade vinegar. How could I ever throw away fruit peelings and cores when I can instead let them percolate for a few weeks in a jar of sugar-water and end up with a quart or three of freshly fermented cider vinegar?
Freshly mixed pear scrap vinegar, next to strained quart jars of grape vinegar
I have made gallons of the stuff in the past year, using apples, pears, Asian pears, grape mash, even pineapple; before long, we will be as inundated in vinegar as we are in chicken stock. Good thing raw vinegar has a plethora of uses from cooking and baking, to cleaning and disinfecting, not to mention a host of medicinal uses!
A quart of strained apple cider vinegar, ready to use
I make my fruit scrap vinegar in a gallon or half-gallon glass jar or pitcher. I just fill it up about halfway with scraps and cores; browned or bruised spots are fine, but discard anything that looks moldy. A little raw sugar, the less processed the better, gives our friendly bacteria some fuel; I like to use organic unprocessed rapadura, but it does give the mixture a muddy appearance at first. A little whey or raw vinegar like Bragg’s will kick-start the fermentation process, but is technically unnecessary. Topped off with filtered water, you leave the whole mess on your counter to ferment for a few weeks until it sours—then use it for everything from vinaigrettes to beauty aids!
Fruit Scrap Vinegar
Trimmings from apples, pears and other pomes work well with this method; I have also successfully made vinegar from grape mash (seeds and skins from juice-making) and the skin and core of a pineapple, but I think it could also be made from things like peach skins, dates, and apparently even honey. Clearly more experimentation is needed!
About 4 C fruit peels, cores and other scraps
1-2 quarts filtered water
1/4 C raw sugar per quart of water
2 T fresh whey or raw vinegar, optional
Fill a half-gallon Mason jar up about halfway with your fruit scraps of choice. Dump in the sugar and whey, and top off the jar with room temperature filtered water. Stir up this mixture, cover loosely, and allow to ferment in a warm place for about a week, stirring periodically; strain out the scraps at this point and allow your vinegar to continue fermenting for another two to three weeks.
Source: The Nourishing Cook.