It’s Fruit Scrap Vinegar Season

Fruit Scrap Vinegar: Apple, Pineapple, Golden Plum, Mixed Fruits, Blackberry

I love fruit scrap vinegar. Since discovering that I can turn peels, cores, and squishy bits of overripe fruit into delicious vinegar, I’ve been giving in to my desire for more, more, more. It makes great salad dressing, it’s delicious over steamed vegetables, truly it works well in any recipe that calls for vinegar. The flavor and fragrance of the fruit comes through in each batch, so much so that I don’t need to label the jars; one sniff tells me which batch is blackberry and which is plum.

All fruit scrap vinegar roads seem to lead back to Sandor Ellix Katz and his book Wild FermentationI use the method outlined by No Impact Man Colin Beavan, and he credits Sandor Katz. I owe them both a big thank you – I love everything about fruit scrap vinegar. Well, everything except for the smell of pineapple vinegar as it ferments; that’s the only fruit I’ve tried so far that just doesn’t float my boat. I’ve got a jar of it here for someone who’d like it…Anyone?

Experiment with a few batches to discover what you like. Transform your autumnal fruit waste into vinegar to spice up your winter foods. You won’t regret it.

Make your own:

  • Fill a large jar with fresh, clean water. I use half-gallon Mason jars to make big batches of each flavor.
  • Add 1/4 cup of honey or the sugar of your choice for each quart of water. Stir until completely dissolved.
  • Add fruit scraps. Use whatever you’ve got, peels, cores, and whole fruit. Chop up big things such as apples, leave small things such as berries whole. Add at least a couple of handfuls of fruit for rich flavor and color.
  • Cover the jar’s open mouth with a clean square of fabric. Use a rubber band or string to hold the fabric in place. This will keep out flies and let in the wild yeast you want.

Swaddled Vinegar Jars, Ugly but Effective

  • Set the jar in a dark spot or swaddle it in thick fabric to protect it from the light. I tie a couple of clean old cloth diapers around my jars and set them in a cool spot on my kitchen counter.

Italian Prune Vinegar in Process, Complete with Friendly Yeasty Growth on Top

  • Stir the jar every day or so and check to make sure the fruit is submerged. Don’t worry about yeasty white growth on top; scrape off any other colors of mold and toss that  into your compost bin.

Blackberry Vinegar Ready to be Strained

  • After a week or so, or whenever the liquid has darkened and everything is smelling nice and boozy, strain the liquid to remove the fruit. I use a doubled piece of cheesecloth to remove all of the big pieces and most of the small pieces. Compost the fermented fruit.

Straining Blackberry Vinegar

  • Pour this strained liquid back into its original jar, replace the fabric square on top, and let it sit for another week or two. When it smells and tastes like vinegar, it’s ready. Put a solid lid on the jar to keep it from evaporating, store at room temperature, and enjoy.
  • If you see a translucent growth in the liquid, either a blob or wispy strands, be happy. This is your Mother of Vinegar, and it can be used to start another bottle of vinegar or just left to live where it is. The mother is proof that you did it, you cultured your own vinegar.

I find it encouraging that there is still enough wild yeast and beneficial bacteria in our air and on the skins of our fruits to turn fruit scraps, sweetness, and water into something so tasty and healthy.

And now, I think I’ll have a raw vinegar tonic for this cold I’ve been trying to kick: A shot of golden plum vinegar with honey from our friends’ bees and some fresh ginger.

Fruit Scrap Vinegar, It’s Pretty

What’s your favorite use for vinegar? Any favorite fruit combinations you’d recommend for fermentation into vinegar? Please let me know what I’m missing.

21 comments on “It’s Fruit Scrap Vinegar Season

  1. Heya,
    trying this now…are you talking about 1/4 liter, 1/4 gallon or 1/4 cup when speaking about “for each quart of water” up there?
    Golden autumn cheers and greetings from my metric kitchen bench!

    • Ah, yes – I’ll do my best to write things up w/ metric equivalents right from the beginning…We almost made the shift here in the US – When I was in 5th grade, they had us all start to memorize the metric system, then the gov’t abandoned the effort and now I’m always a bit off in either system. So, our quarts are 4 cups, or right between 900 ml and 1 litre…For this, you don’t need to be more exact than that, fortunately! The 1/4 cup amount of sweetener per that volume of water is equal to 60 ml. Hope that helps! What fruits are you using? And please let me know how it turns out! Best, Rebecca

      • Apples, apples and apples of all sorts. We’re windfall plunderers…
        One batch had a few cranberry left overs, the others were only the scrap from making two lovely apple pies.
        It’s been about 10 days now. the jars are sitting on the kitchen bench in our unheated kitchen, where the water pipes now and than close from frost in winter, when you forget to let them run. The smell is just the best and reminds me my childhood – I’m from a wine region where all kids are pulled through wine cellars from august till November following their partying parents that are enjoying the new wine – Federweißer in the midst of fermentation.
        I’m so glad I found this use for those massive amounts of tasty peels and scraps! Thank you for sharing!

      • I’m so glad it sounds like it’s working! I love that smell, too – Reminds me of the years my parents spent as aspiring backyard winemakers; they turned out a lot of good vinegar…I love the mental picture I have of your wine region childhood – What a lovely way to spend each autumn!
        Here’s to windfall plunderers – We’re in the same group!

  2. Thank you for your wonderful illustrations and information. I am trying my hand at doing this process. I may be back with some questions. Thanks!

    • It’s my pleasure! Please do let me know if I can answer any questions – I’m no fermentation expert, but I’ve had great luck with vinegar. Good luck!

      • It is getting cooler in my basement hallway where I have been keeping my vinegar which now have mothers in them. I find this so exciting. I want to grow more with the mothers. I was wondering if you have an idea how cool the vinegar mothers can handle? And do you make more with the mothers that form?

      • Hi Jodi – I’m so sorry it’s taken me this long to reply! I haven’t been able to find the online resource I’d like to answer your questions, although I’m sure it’s out there somewhere! I don’t let my vinegar freeze, but it does seem to do OK when the temperatures drop; everything just takes longer, but none of the living cultures seem to die off. You can definitely use the mothers that form to kick-start the formation of other batches of vinegar! In France, for example, there’s a tradition of keeping a stoneware vinegar jug on the kitchen counter, adding wine to it as you have it, so there’s a steady supply of household vinegar. I’ve read that you should stick with one type of wine per mother (either red or white), but I’m guessing that any sort of fruit vinegar mother would work with another similar fruit batch. Best, Rebecca

  3. Love this idea! Reblogging, many thanks 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on quarteracrelifestyle and commented:
    Love this idea – to try!!

  5. […] other types of fruit scrap vinegars go here: http://rockfarmer.me/2012/10/05/its-fruit-scrap-vinegar-season/, she has some lovely looking ones I have yet to […]

  6. Rebecca…I just got back on here again so thanks for your answer. The vinegar mother did fine in my basement stairway Thanks again for your inspiration!

  7. Cool! Can this vinegar be used for household cleaning as well?

  8. Enjoying raspberry vinegar and making blackberry…I threw my mother away because I read that you “should”. Now I’ve read that it can be reused (add fruit juice, fruit or sugar water) to make the process go faster. Also heard adding Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar can help get things moving. Just peeled apples for freezing and will use peeling for vinegar. How cool is that?

    • I love raspberry & blackberry vinegars! Mothers are great for continuous fermenting, and will keep giving birth to new mothers so long as they’re happy! And I’ve also used Bragg’s and other brands of raw, live vinegar to kickstart a batch when I don’t have my own living vinegar to do the trick. It definitely speeds things up!

  9. I just finished the first ferment and strained my fruit. When I took the covers off (to keep out light) I hadn’t stirred. The top layer was a translucent, deep burgundy and the bottom was a sickly opaque yellow. When I stirred it, it become a cloudy brown. I used wild plums (whole) and my strained brew is an ugly, Mississippi mud-brown:( How did you get such amazing color? Oh and for the second ferment (strained) do I still need to keep light out? THX!!

    • Hmmmm…I wish I knew! Mine just turns out these colors, depending on the fruit. I haven’t made any with wild plums, so I can’t compare your results with that to mine. Does it taste good? When I’ve fermented mine and bottled it up for use, I do keep it out of bright light.

      • Well, this morning, the sediment has settled to the bottom (only about an inch) and the top is becoming a nice yellow – like the color of the inside of golden plum! YAY! I’m going to have to somehow siphon it out in a few weeks to bottle it so it stays looking pretty. (I did use cheese cloth in the first straining so the sediment is finer than cheesecloth…) I used the plums whole instead of scarps bc they are so tiny, they are mostly skin and pit but it might have been too much actual fruit flesh…

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