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 Fermentation. I 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.