I’ve been quite quiet on here lately; Things have been hotting up in the Airline Pilot Training side of life! I only have 2 months left of training now and have an official start date and base for easyJet in November. It’s getting pretty exciting so I haven’t had a huge amount of time to devote to the blog.
However, sustainable living never rests and I’ve been busy experimenting with new cooking and preserving techniques to live and eat in the most sustainable and waste-free way possible!
I follow a wonderful lady on Instragram called ‘The Zero Waste Chef’. She’s a zero-waste blogger from California who lives and breathes zero-waste. She posts inspirational content from her day-to-day life on how she lives with as little waste as possible, from home-made deodorant and cosmetics to food and drinks recipes.
I’ve tried a number of her recipes and learned a huge amount from the Zero Waste Chef and would recommend anyone who’s interested in living with a lower impact on the planet to check her out.
One of the recipes I’ve been meaning to try for a long time has been her home-made apple cider vinegar made from apple scraps. Despite the recipe being literally ZERO effort, for one reason or another I’ve never got round to trying it.
A while ago I posted an article on how to lessen the amount of waste we produce in the kitchen and whilst I’ve been composting all of my fruit and vegetable scraps, there are still ways we can use these scraps before they end up in the composter.
Some of you may have heard of the multiple health benefits of consuming organic apple cider vinegar, and you may have read that the vinegar must contain the ‘Mother’ for you to reap the full benefits of improving your stomach bacteria. This vinegar is sold in most supermarkets and health food stores but can be pretty pricey!
But fear not! You can create your own apple cider vinegar with the Mother in your very own home with only 3 ingredients: Apple cores, sugar and water. Boom.
All you have to do is once you’ve finished eating an apple, store the core in the fridge or freezer. Once you have 6 or so cores you can start making the vinegar. Simply add the cores into glass jar or container, add a tablespoon of sugar (any sugar will do!) and fill with water so that it covers the contents. Give this a good stir to dissolve the sugar and cover with a cheese cloth or thin tea towel securing with an elastic band. This allows oxygen into the mixture but keeps dust and mould spores out. All you have to do is now leave this at room temperature out of the sun and the vinegar will make itself!
I’m not an expert on the science behind the process, so don’t quote me on it. But I believe there are naturally occurring yeasts on the surface of the apple. These, in the presence of oxygen (hence using a breathable cloth rather than a lid), consume the sugar in the mixture and the naturally occurring sugars in the apple to form alcohol via fermentation. This alcohol is further digested to form acetic acid, the basis for all vinegars. This is the basic process for all vinegars. Red wine left open will form red wine vinegar, white wine forms white wine vinegar – the list goes on.
The length of time it takes for the vinegar to form varies with temperature. In the summer it takes no time at all and in the winter it’ll take much longer. Everyday, give the mixture a good stir to incorporate the yeasts that will form on the surface of the liquid.
The only way to tell if it is finished is by tasting it! At first it’ll start to taste a bit like scrumpy cider, then in time the liquid will start to taste quite sharp. Once the liquid tastes sufficiently sharp and vinegary, it’s done. Simples!
All you have to do now is strain off the apples and store the vinegar in an air-tight, clean bottle. This can be stored at room temperature in a cupboard for months. The apples can now be put into the composter.
Depending on whether you’ve used red or green apples, the liquid may start a green colour, but then may oxidise to a red colour. Don’t worry, this is totally normal and nothing to worry about!
As for using the vinegar, it can be shotted daily for a dose of gut-healthy bacteria, mixed with oil for a vinaigrette or added to sauces for an acid kick. It really couldn’t be simpler.
I’m now experimenting with adding other fruits to the fermenting mixture to make different flavoured vinegars. I’m currently brewing apple and raspberry vinegar and, once I’ve picked some more blackberries, I’ll make some apple and blackberry vinegar. Watch this space (or my instagram account) for how those end up!
For a more detailed description on how to make apple cider vinegar, troubleshooting and a whole host of other recipes and content, take a look at the Zero Waste Chefs website or instagram account: zerowastechef.com.