Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.
Vinegar is a staple in the kitchen. To get a nice gallon of apple cider vinegar with the mother calls approximately 24 U.S. dollars. How wonderful would it be to be able to make your own vinegar and test the pH so that you know how acidic it is. The following won’t be a typical recipe. It will be a series of steps that you will have to take in order to make your vinegar and test your vinegar to make sure that it is safe for canning. A video is attached but the video does not show you how to make it safe for canning.
apple or pear peels and cores
several gallon containers
Place apple or pear peels and cores inside of your various gallon containers. The apple or pear peels and cores should fill up half to 2/3 of the container.
Take your distilled, well, or other water that does not have chlorine in it and add one tablespoon of sugar, molasses, or brown sugar. Stir well. The water cannot have chlorination as a means of disinfection because it will interfere with the fermentation process. Most city water is chlorinated.
Add sugared water to the containers filled with peels and cores.
Place a weighted disc on top of the apple or pear peels that are inside the container. Ensure all peels and cores are beneath the water line.
Place a paper towel, piece of muslin fabric, or a lid with a bubbler on top of the containers. This will allow fermentation gases to travel out of the container.
Place the container inside of a dark cabinet that stays at roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit all the time. Wait two weeks.
After two weeks, remove the container from the cabinet. Take the top off of the container. Strain the liquid out of the container. Place the liquid into a secondary container. Toss cores and peels into the compost heap or the chicken pen.
Take the container with the strained liquid, recover with the paper towel, muslin fabric, or bubbler. Place the container back into the dark cabinet that remains at 70 degrees Fahrenheit all the time.
After two weeks, remove the cover and check the liquid for acidic smell. Do not just taste test the vinegar as it may not be done yet. Take a strip of pH paper and place one drop of the vinegar on the pH paper. When the strip of pH paper says that the vinegar is at a 2 to 3 acidic level it is done.
If your vinegar is not finished according to the pH paper, replace the lid and return the vinegar to its place out of the light. Recheck the vinegar every two weeks with pH paper.
After your vinegar is finished and the pH is 2 to 3, place inside of large canning jars and process for canning 10 minutes at sea level. This will keep your vinegar good for years. If you do not process your vinegar, it will continue to ferment.
If you want to save the mother of vinegar to start another batch, before processing the vinegar for preservation, take a little bit out and place it in the refrigerator. This mother of vinegar will only keep for a couple of months. You will have to make new vinegar rather quickly in order to use the mother of vinegar.
For your sugar you can use, white granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar. Do not use honey because it has antibacterial properties.
For your container you can use, gallon pickle jars, fermentation crocks meant for sauerkraut, wine kits, and half gallon ball canning jars. Your lids will depend upon what you use for a jar. For gallon pickle jars you will use a paper towel or muslin cloth with a rubber band to secure it to the top. For a fermentation crock, you will use the top of the crock and the weight that comes with the fermentation crock. For a wine kit you will use the bottle and bubbler lid that comes with the kit. For half gallon ball canning jars, you will use the modified canning lids and bubblers which can be found at many retail shops.
PH paper is essential to ensuring the safety of your product. PH paper can be found in any scientific or industrial shops and online. If you test your vinegar with pH paper and it results in a pH of two or three, you can use it for canning and pickling. Any vinegar that does not have a pH of two or three is not safe for canning.
Do not use any container that is made from plastic or metal. The acid in the vinegar can etch the metal and eat into the plastic. Use only glass, porcelain, or clay containers that have been glazed.
If you don’t have a dark place to store your vinegar as it ferments, you can use a dark container. For example, you can paint the outside of your glass pickle jar black to keep the contents inside dark.
Although both the article I referenced and the video below say to taste the vinegar to see if it’s done, I want to emphasize Do Not Taste Test it before testing with pH paper.