Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adventures in Apple Cider Vinegar

This morning I got Ry to go out and pick me a bunch of windfall apples off the lawn so I could make them some fresh apple cider for breakfast.

Lots of chopping to fit the apples into the juicer.  

But I had Help...

Look at all that lovely mess for our compost pile!

However, by the time I was into the thick of juicing, my darling children informed me they weren't interested in cider for breakfast.  Next plan, build up my Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) stock.  So I chopped up the rest of the apples roughly and poured the juiced stuff over it into clean icecream buckets to start fermenting.

Skins, seeds, stems, flesh - the whole apple.  This batch will sit covered to rest for awhile in a warm, dark place.  Then I will add it to the batch already started in my big carboy you see below. 

And now, meet the Mother.  Gross huh?  That slimy, rubbery pancake looking thing is my homegrown Mother, a necessary part of real, natural ACV.  Most tutorials tell you to buy this already started, but our place seems to have plenty of wild yeasts floating about that are delighted to turn into yummy ACV. Only once did I have trouble getting my ACV to ferment properly.  (Sourdough bread?  Another story. I'm going to have to beg some off someone who has had more success at that than I have!)

This time, I decided to just slip the Mother from my last brew into the big jug to get things going even faster. This jug will just sit and burble quietly and happily in my brewing room for the next few months to a year and then I will start siphoning it off to use in cooking and other healthy uses.

And just in case my homemaking adventures started going to my head and I started feeling like some sort of domestic diva or something... 

See that big wet WINE colored stain on my lovely orange shag??  See the very small amount of wine in the green carboy?  Yup.  Late last night I remembered to check on my Sweet Cherry Wine and discovered it had finished the initial ferment and needed to be transferred to the Secondary fermenter.  I struggled with siphoning it off and finally gave up.  (Note:  check Youtube BEFORE trying out new things freehand next time!)  So how hard could it be to just funnel it from the barrel into the carboy?  Well, harder than you would think, especially when you find out after the fact that your aged funnel has a crack in it.  That big wet spot is several gallons of freshly fermented wine.  And now I shall have to go buy some commercial wine to fill up the rest of the carboy, otherwise bad bacteria will get into the brew.  Sigh.  

Then there was a little matter of one of my junior helpers dropping a jar of last year's apple jelly on the laundry room floor. Lots of fun.

But I haven't given up yet.  My rhubarb is thawing for my next go at Rhubarb Wine...