I started some homemade apple cider vinegar and was surprised to end up with three bottles full of ingredients. I have Mr. Chenery to thank for the large amount, as he buys far more apples than he can eat. He contributes unknowingly in another way, as he has a preference for the green-coloured alcohol bottles I use to store the vinegar.
Why green? Any darkly coloured bottle makes a bit of a difference in the first chemical process, the change from pressed apples and sugar into cider. The yeast, busy bubbling the sugar into alcohol, will stop if it gets too bright or too cold. So, the mixture goes above my stove in a dark bottle in a dark cupboard.
Though some might frown at this, I add about a quarter teaspoon of yeast to each bottle. I keep the bacteria for bread making anyway, so why wait around for it to appear on its own? But, the second bacteria that needs to get in, the vinegar creatures, are another matter. My last batch was easily cultivated from vinegar mother, which I purchased. However, in our recent move a few things went missing, the vinegar mother among them.
It always seems that something goes missing during a move. Worse, I always leave behind something useful, intentionally. It’s just too much work to move around anything without a strict, current purpose. Last time, a dozen good glass containers were recycled instead of packed. I put clothing into the donation pile early. Once I left behind a moderately broken bookshelf, even though my books struggle to snuggle into my remaining shelves.
Most of the people from my generation, the millennials, move far too often, usually for school. I’ve moved three times since leaving my Master’s degree. I moved six times while in university, not all for strictly school purposes, but still. We had two main homes during my childhood, but I’m told we moved six or seven times before we settled in the first one. I can’t remember most of those early places, but I do remember a move. We walked boxes to our new house which was literally a few doors down the street.
With all of this moving my generation keeps our possessions lean and light. If you want a new couch, roam around university housing in April. There will be furniture on most curbs. Even while still living in the house the students have already abandoned it, in their mind. They don’t maintain it, and they don’t get attached. Why would they? They’ll be gone soon.
Stability & Home
There are advantages to living life that way, but I am yearning for something different. Mr. Chenery and I are finally in a house we’ll be in for at least a few years. Suddenly we have become homemakers. New adjectives are coming to mind: stable, organized, traditional, comforting, and more. My goal is to materialize all of those adjectives into my house.
I have made investments into the garden’s soil, knowing I’ll use what I put in. Mr. Chenery suddenly sees merit in regularly mowing the lawn, instead of feeling the whole practice is a waste of time. And, I’m more interested in making things by hand than ever before, like vinegar.
I made my initial investment in vinegar mother mostly because I was a little sceptical that the acetic acid creatures would just appear from thin air. I figured I’d buy it once and use it the rest of my life, which would work out cheaper than paying for vinegar. Over a lifetime, it adds up, especially because I use vinegar so (almost) exclusively in cleaning.
Well, the plan was foiled and I don’t want to buy the mother again. Mother isn’t awfully expensive, but the whole point of making vinegar from apple scraps in the first place is to save money and use what we have.
Now that I’m a little more confident in the knowledge old people and older books can pass on to me, I imagine at least one of these cider bottles will make vinegar and provide me with my new mother. So, I will pour the completed cider into wide mouth glass jars and wait for the vinegar flies to land or the kitchen gods to answer my prayers.
Press apples. Or don’t and follow the Prarie Homestead‘s instructions. Pour into glass containers. Add yeast and/or sugar, to your liking, although the Untrained Housewife suggests 1 tablespoon per cup of liquid. Cover with an air-permeable material, like a coffee filter. Allow to time for it to turn into cider, roughly two weeks.
Then, add vinegar mother, or wait for the bacteria to arrive, which could take months. Keep in a dark place still.
Note: The strength of homemade vinegar is unpredictable. Do not use for canning.