Apple (or other fruit) Cider Vinegar

I LOVE it when I can work in my kitchen preparing one thing…and have numerous other things going on at the same time. This one utilizes scraps from ‘other things going on.’

apples

Apples or other tart fruit scraps

1 cup honey per gallon of water

Open glass or crock container

Towels or cloth for covering

Time…

Chop apples into chunks (or use scraps from pie making)

Add honey – stir to mix well

Put a glass plate on top with a weight to make sure all fruit is submergedapples in bowl

Cover with towels (the towels are to keep out fruit flies *see fruit fly trap below) or use a rubber band to tightly tie down a cloth around the opening of the container.

Place in dark spot on counter or in pantry for a month or more…taste occasionally till it’s reached the desired strength
Note: a white ‘fermenting’ scum will appear on the top [this is normal]…scoop it off if you wish…or scoot it aside for taste testing

Strain out fruit

Put liquid in a glass jar with a lid

The 'floaties' are a good thing....it's what turns the fruit liquid into vinegar. Bacteria, air, and sugar create a vinegar 'mother.'

The ‘floaties’ are a good thing….it’s what turns the fruit liquid into vinegar. Bacteria, air, and sugar create a vinegar ‘mother.’

Let it sit another 6 weeks – Voila! It’s Vinegar!jar

Lisa’s Notes:

Like many cooks before me, I have to test my results before sharing a recipe.gift bottles

I experimented with different sugars; concluding that I like honey the best. I tried different sitting times; deducing that a stronger taste will result from a longer sit – but also that the type of fruit used, air temperature, and the time of year that you make it will also have an effect. Which boils it down to – the taste will tell you when it’s done.

Fruit Fly Trap – In an open dish on your counter, place vinegar, liquid dish soap and a piece of fruit that sticks up over the liquid

Additional Resources: 

From The White House Cookbook 1887  – Digitized – Michigan State University Library

“Apple Vinegar (economical and good)
Have an earthen jar ready for use. Into this put your apple peelings and cores if good. Cover generously with water. Cover the jar tight, and let stand in cool place. Every day parings may be added, putting on more water each time. When cold tea is left, pour into this jar and also add molasses to the proportion of a cup to a gallon of water. In the course of two or three weeks you will have an excellent vinegar made of nothing. When ready to use, strain through cheese cloth and stand away. This has been tried with good results, and with a little thought economical housekeepers can make enough in one summer to last all winter. ”

Apple Vinegar from Peels and Cores – Mother Earth News

How to Make Homemade Vinegar – Mother Earth News

Creating Homemade Fruit Vinegars – Mother Earth News

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinegar

http://www.apple-cider-vinegar-benefits.com/vinegar-history.html

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Indoor Composting Kitchen Waste

~Vermi Composting or Worm Composting can be done indoors – under your sink or in your garage.
~Vermi Compost is the best quality compost that you can make.
~Compost Tea – made by soaking vermi compost in water, then draining out the solids is an excellent form of fertilizer for plants.

What you need to start a Worm Box:

A plastic, nonopaque tub – worms don’t like light –  for a family of three, we use a 2′ x 1.5′ x 9″ deep tub. (We consume a lot of fruits & vegetables…so this size just barely handles the amount of fruit & vegetable waste we produce.)

Place a small container of Red Wiggler worms (purchase these anywhere where fishing bait is sold) at the bottom of the container.

Fill about 50% of the container with shredded newspaper – about 1″ strips – wet in sink, thoroughly wring out excess water, then separate and fluff.

You want your worm bit to stay moist – not too dry and not too wet. A well managed worm box will have a pleasant earthy smell.

*** Make sure that the lid on the worm bin lets air in – keep it covered but not sealed. If you tightly seal the worm bin – the environment will become too wet – septic ( it will stink)…then all of your worms will attempt to escape. If you see liquid accumulating on the bottom of the bin, open the lid for more air circulation and / or add dry shredded paper.

Start feeding your worms!

Start a worm compost container (sealed plastic bucket) – fill it with fruit and vegetable waste. Once the container is full, dig a hole in in the paper of your worm bin, fill it with food waste then cover it with paper. By covering the bio-matter – there should be no smell.  Each time you add food waste to your worm bin, bury it in a different place.

Another alternative is to place your food waste into a  paper bag as you are preparing your meal. When you have finished, roll up the bag (no additional liquid is necessary) then place it in your worm bin (on top of the paper is fine…don’t need to dig holes).  With this alternative, you won’t have a smelly compost collection container and you’ll check on your worms more regularly.

The worms will reproduce in order to consume the amount of food that you feed them. When they have consumed all of the paper bedding and food – your worm bill will look like it is filled with dirt.

To harvest vermi compost – dig out half of the compost – fill in the space with fresh paper bedding…and keep on composting!

Glass & Plastic Container Reuse

As a former Recycling Specialist, I am always thinking about ways to not add things to the landfill.

A kitchen recycling habit I have developed is to remove labels, wash and save most of my glass containers.

When you have a variety of containers hanging around – you inevitably think of many creative ways to use them!

Around holiday time, they come in handy for homemade gift items. When I have a group of friends over to experiment in the kitchen, we usually end up using them. They can be used for holding art supplies or small hardware items or for school projects. When one of my favorite herbalists comes for a visit, she loads up on boxes of bottles and containers.