When the apple harvest comes in and you’ve spent time making apple butter, applesauce, apple juice, and apple jelly, you are left with a LOT of apple cores and other apple scraps. For a no-waste kitchen, I like to turn my apple scraps into healthy, probiotic-rich apple scrap vinegar! This is such a cheap and easy way to get good quality vinegar with the “mother” in it that costs a fortune in the grocery store. And you can make it at home for pennies!
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When we harvested our apples in August, we saved all the good-looking apples in our refrigerators for fresh eating. But we still had a lot that had bruises and other bad spots courtesy of birds or other pests. I cut all the moldy or pest-bitten spots off to give to our chickens and I used all the good pieces to make applesauce, apple butter, apple juice, and apple jelly. But I had a LOT of good apple cores and other scraps leftover.
My favorite way to use apple scraps is to turn them into apple scrap vinegar. Raw vinegar is such a useful product on the homestead. We’re talking good quality, probiotic-rich vinegar with the “mother” in it!
What is the Mother of Vinegar?
The mother of vinegar is the film that develops on the top and then falls to the bottom of jars as the contents turn to alcohol and ferment further into vinegar. It’s composed of bacteria and yeast (all healthy) and is considered to be the most nutritious part of vinegar. It sometimes looks like a gelatinous disc and is the home of all the healthy bacteria that convert sugars into alcohol and then into vinegar.
What are the Health Benefits of Raw Vinegar?
Vinegar can be used as an all-natural cleaner and disinfectant and it has many uses for the hair and skin. But it also has many health benefits when taken internally.
When we talk about raw vinegar, we are talking about vinegar that hasn’t been treated with heat during a pasteurization process. Raw vinegar contains beneficial enzymes, proteins, amino acids, and antioxidants. Vinegar helps the body remain alkaline and balance out acidity levels in the gut, which scientists tell us is where our immunity comes from.
Vinegar also kills harmful bacteria and pathogens, it may help lower blood sugar for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and it may help improve blood pressure and related heart health. For more on the health benefits, click here.
On the homestead, raw vinegar is a necessity to keep all your animals healthy, too. It’s especially helpful for ruminant animals because it helps the rumen digest grasses and grains. It also acts as a dewormer for your animals.
We make several gallons each year because we use several gallons. I’ll keep a couple of gallons in my kitchen for various cooking and cleaning, but most of the apple scrap vinegar goes to our dairy cow Belle. She gets a little bit every single time we go out to milk her and she absolutely loves it. The other animals occasionally get vinegar in their water, too.
How Much Vinegar Should You Give To Your Animals?
The general consensus is to feed animals 1 ounce of raw vinegar per 250 pounds of body weight. (Belle gets 4 ounces per day when we milk her.)
You can also dilute the recommended amount in the water that the animals drink. (We do this any time we get baby chicks delivered through the mail.) The book Keeping a Family Cow mentions adding 1 gallon of apple cider vinegar per 100-gallon stock tank to prevent and treat parasites. The author doesn’t recommend using it in galvanized tanks because of the risk of leaching zinc, but it can be added to porcelain bathtubs or Polyethylene plastic tanks. I would also keep it out of rubber bowls since the vinegar will eat away at the rubber over time.
Uses for Apple Scrap Vinegar
- Clean and disinfect surfaces. Dilute with water, add it to a spray bottle, and wipe down your kitchen and bathrooms. (Imagine not having to buy any more cleaners for your house and using what you can make yourself.)
- Add to a bath, make a hair rinse, or make a skin toner. When diluted with water, vinegar restores skin’s acidity, tone, and makes skin resistant to infection (8 parts water to 1 part apple scrap vinegar).
- Make salad dressing.
- Make pickles.
- Make ketchup.
- Make old-fashioned drinks called “shrubs” and “switchel.” Along with a HUGE amount of varying information in the nearly 1,000-page volume, The Encyclopedia of Country Living has a few different recipes for shrubs and switchel, which all use homemade vinegar. You can serve it warm in winter or cool in summer for a fizzy, refreshing drink.
- Make the herbal remedy “fire cider” for a cold or flu, or give an energizing boost when added as a flavoring to vegetables, salad dressings, or steamed grains. Check out the book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health for more recipes that use homemade vinegar.
Instructions for Making Apple Scrap Vinegar
This basic recipe can be used for any and all fruit, vegetables, and herb scraps! If it’s edible, you can turn it into an edible vinegar. (Even some things that are not edible can be turned into vinegar that’s just used for cleaning, such as pine and other sappy evergreens.) Strawberry tops, plum and peach pits, watermelon rinds, cantaloupe rinds, kiwi skins…they all make good fruit vinegars. Just be sure to use organic produce so that pesticides don’t end up in your vinegar.
First, fill up a half-gallon glass jar half-way with your apple scraps. (They can be fresh or frozen.)
Then add 1/4 cup of sugar per half-gallon glass jar. (White sugar and organic sugar work the same.) Last, top off with filtered or other unchlorinated water and stir well. Top the jar with a coffee filter or breathable piece of cloth and add a rubber band to secure it.
Stir your jar every day or two to prevent mold from growing on the top. You’ll start to notice a “mother” growing on the top. Just stir it in but don’t discard it. Anything that’s white, grey, or pink in the mother is fine. If the growth looks black or green, that could be mold growing and I’d throw the whole thing out. Some people recommend just scooping the moldy parts out and discarding it. Eventually, the vinegar will become too acidic for mold to grow and live.
After 30 days you should have a nice vinegar. Then you can strain out the apple scraps and decant your vinegar into another clean jar and top with a plastic lid (never a metal lid). If you want to test your acidity, you can use pH test strip paper or just smell and taste the vinegar. If it still smells alcoholic, it hasn’t fermented long enough, so keep it going until it smells and tastes like vinegar.
A Word About the Water
It’s really important to use unchlorinated water, like that from a Berkey water filter system or bottled water, because chlorine in tap water will kill the yeast and good bacteria which will prevent your fruit scraps from fermenting into vinegar. If you don’t already have a Berkey filter or other water filter system, don’t worry! You can simply boil some tap water on your stove and let it cool down completely before using, or you can just leave a pitcher of tap water out overnight and the chlorine will evaporate.
Save Your Fermented Apple Scraps!
If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I always try to get one or two extra products from “scraps.” The fermented apple scraps are still edible and make a great treat for your cows and some other animals (like pigs) will gobble them up, too. If all else fails, compost them so they can eventually feed your soil!
Recipe for Making Apple Scrap Vinegar
Apple Scrap Vinegar
- half-gallon glass jar
- coffee filter
- rubber band
- wooden spoon or chopstick
- apple scraps
- 1/4 cup sugar
- filtered water
- Fill up your glass jar half-way with apple scraps that are either fresh or frozen. They shouldn't have any mold growing but bruised spots are fine. Also, stems and blossom ends can be left in.
- Add 1/4 cup of sugar and then top off with filtered, unchlorinated water.
- Stir with the handle of a wooden spoon or long chopstick. Place the coffee filter on top and secure with a rubber band. Set out of direct sunlight.
- Stir every day or two for a month to prevent mold from developing.
- After one month, strain out the apples and decant your apple scrap vinegar into clean glass jars.
More Uses for Apple Scraps
Besides making apple scrap vinegar, what other ways can you use apple scraps? Here are some more ideas:
- Apple Juice/Cider and Hard Cider. Place your apple scraps in a pot, add water to cover, and boil for 15-20 minutes until soft to extract the juices. Then strain out the apple scraps using flour sack towels or cheesecloth and allow the juice to drip for at least 2 hours. Use the apple juice in future apple jelly recipes, can it, freeze it, or turn it into hot apple cider! If you want to take it a step further, you can turn it into hard cider with some brewing equipment.
- Apple Brown Sugar Syrup. My friend Marlene from Every Purpose Home uses apple scraps to make her delicious apple brown sugar syrup that can be used in a variety of fun ways! I encourage you to check out her blog post and recipe!!
- Apple Tea. For a new tea flavor, boil your water as you normally would for tea. Once it’s brought to a boil, take it off the heat to cool slightly, add your tea bags, and also add your apple scraps to steep for 15 or more minutes. Strain the tea and apple scraps out, and finish making your tea as you normally would. If you use honey as your sweetener, the apple honey tea will taste really delicious!
- Potpourri. Dehydrate your apple scraps in a low oven or dehydrator (around 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degrees Celsius). When they are leathery and flexible, take them out of the oven. Place them in a bowl with some cinnamon sticks and leftover orange peels for a nice potpourri!!
Leave a comment.
Please leave me a comment if you’re ready to start turning your scraps into something new and useful!
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Shop This Post
The Encyclopedia of Country Living book
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health book
Keeping a Family Cow book
This is on my list of things to do! I don’t know why I haven’t! It seems so easy!
Super helpful! I tried to make ACV recently, but missed the stirring part and a bunch of mold grew on it. Now I’m excited to try again!
I only just learned this was doable and I cannot wait to try it. Thanks for the informative post!
Can’t wait to try this! We just got a whole bunch of apples that need to be processed, so I will have lots of scraps to use up!
Love this recipe and everything that reduces waste and makes you save some money! Thank you very much for sharing 🙂
This was awesome! We love experimenting with these sorts of DIY projects of love!