Step 2 -"Racking Off" Apple Cider
(skip this step when making apple cider vinegar unless you want to save out some of the sweet or hard cider for refreshments)

"Racking off" is just a fancy way of saying "siphoning". Place jug of sweet cider up on a table. Place a big, clean and sterilized bottle well below the filled one. Insert one end of a clean rubber tube, about 3 feet long, into the liquid and suck at the outer end with your mouth, like a straw.

As soon as the liquid in the upper container starts traveling through the tube, pinch off your end with your fingers and insert that end into the empty bottle. Liquid will flow from one bottle into the other, leaving the sediment behind. Fill the new bottles only 3/4 of the way full to allow for foaming if you're going on to make hard cider. Make sure to use sturdy glass or the bottle may burst from pressure due to the increasing fermentation.

Pasteurizing Apple Cider
(Skip this step if you're going on to make hard cider)

Unpasteurized, or fresh, cider may contain bacteria that can cause illness, such as E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella. Harmful bacteria should be killed by a pasteurization process prior to drinking the cider. To pasteurize, heat cider to between 160 - 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Measure the actual temperature with a cooking thermometer. It will taste less ‘cooked’ if it is not boiled. Skim off the foam that may have developed.

Prepare glass containers by tempering them in hot water before filling(this will prevent the glass from breaking when you add the hot liquid). Refrigerate immediately at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and drink within 5 days.

To freeze, pour hot cider into plastic or glass freezer containers, leaving ½ inch headspace for expansion. Refrigerate until cool and then place in the freezer.

*Note - Pasteurization is the heating process intended to remove potential problem bacteria from consumable liquids such as milk, juices etc. However, this process will also remove delicate nutrients and enzymes that may constitute a major portion of the food value of that consumed.

Step 3 - Fermenting "Hard" or "Dry" Apple Cider
If you are making a hard cider(or going on to make apple cider vinegar), ferment the un-racked off, un-pasteurized cider longer at room temperature than you did for the sweet cider. Use an "air lock" cap this time; a glass cork that still allows air pressure to escape, as your plug instead of cotton or muslin fabric(as the fermenting process will continue).

An air lock can be purchased at home brewing supply stores. In place of an air lock, you can substitute three-thicknesses of clean muslin, tightly stretched over the bottle opening and secured well around the neck.

In about 10 days the cider will become quite frothy. This is normal. Allow the frothing to continue. When it stops foaming, alcohol fermentation is complete. The sugars in the cider have been turned into alcohol, and it's now a hard alcoholic cider.

(keep reading if you are going on to make apple cider vinegar)

Step 4 - Now We're Close -
The Apple Cider Vinegar Part!
So you've made your hard cider. The next step in making it into apple cider vinegar is to... wait. And wait. And wait. Full fermentation will take about 4 to 6 months. You'll notice the vinegar-like odor. After 4 months, remove the cover and taste the vinegar. When the vinegar tastes  strong enough, move on to step 5.

Step 5 - Filtering Your Apple Cider Vinegar
While vinegar is fermenting, a jelly-like layer forms on top that is called the “mother
of vinegar.” The mother is actually very beneficial to your health, but can be trapped and removed by straining if you wish. When the vinegar is fully fermented, you can filter it through several layers of fine cheesecloth or a coffee filter, but there are health perks to leaving it in.

To pasteurize it, heat the vinegar to 170 degrees Fahrenheit and hold it at that temperature for 10 minutes. Vinegar must be at least 5% acetic acid if not pasteurized in order to kill off any harmful bacteria. Pour into heated bottles and seal with caps or lids. Congratulations on your apple cider vinegar! :)

*Note - Pasteurization is the heating process intended to remove potential problem bacteria from consumable liquids such as milk, juices etc. However, this process will also remove delicate nutrients and enzymes that may constitute a major portion of the food value of that consumed.

Flavoring Your Apple Cider Vinegar
Flavoring vinegars are not only easy to do, but are delicious and beautiful. You can add flavorings to homemade vinegar as soon as it's ready to bottle.

To make flavored vinegar, place the material in a small cheesecloth bag and suspend it in the vinegar until the desired strength is reached. This will take approx. 4 days, except for garlic, which only takes 1 day.

For every 2 cups of vinegar, start with the following, and then adjust the time it's submerged in the vinegar to suit your taste:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 8 small green onions
  • about 1/2 cup crushed fresh herbs or
  • 1-2 tablespoons of dried herbs or

Also try tarragon, ginger, basil, nasturtium, chives, mint, chervil, borage, hot chilies, and raspberries.

If you flavor your vinegar keep in mind that too much vegetable matter can destroy the acid and ruin the preservative quality of the vinegar, so don't go too crazy with the additives. Experiment with what you like but there are some flavorings that weren't meant to go together with apple cider vinegar’s distinct taste and color, so you might want to test it out on a small amount first.

When flavoring store-bought vinegar, use more delicate or decorative flavors. When flavoring store-bought vinegar, you will still need to pasteurize it and use sterile bottles to store it in.

Direct sunlight will destroy the flavor, acidity, and color of vinegar so be sure to keep your apple cider vinegars in a cool, dark spot.

*TIP - Because the acidity of homemade vinegars will vary, it's best not use them in foods to be canned or stored at room temperature unless you can verify the acetic acid content to be at least 5%. Homemade vinegar is, however, excellent in salads, cooking, or freezer and refrigerator pickled products.

Credit For Content:
University of Pittsburgh
Princeton University
US National Library Of Medicine - National Institutes For Health
University of California - Davis
Ohio State University Extension
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service
How To Make Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar can be produced by different methods and from various raw materials. Nearly any fermentable carbohydrate source can be used to make it. Molasses, maple syrup, sorghum, dates, apples, pears, berries, melons, coconut, potatoes, beets, honey, malted barley, or pure alcohol can be used as a base for making vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is made when fresh, naturally sweet apple cider is fermented into an alcoholic beverage (hard cider), it is then allowed to ferment past that stage, and wha la! The result is vinegar. Apple cider vinegar contains more than thirty important nutrients, a dozen minerals, over half a dozen vitamins and essential amino acids, and several enzymes.

Vinegar is produced when acetic acid bacteria act on the hard cider, turning alcohol into vinegar. Acetic acid bacteria are found in nature where ethanol is being formed as a result of yeast fermentation of sugars and plant carbohydrates. Some good sources are fresh apple cider and unpasteurized beer which has not been filter sterilized. In these liquids the acetic acid bacteria grow as a surface film because they require air to survive.

Things To Consider Before You Begin
Two factors require special attention when making vinegar at home: oxygen supply and temperature. Oxygen is provided by the use of a cheesecloth filter, which is used in place of a regular lid. The temperature of fermenting cider should be kept between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures do not always produce a usable vinegar, and higher ones interfere with the formation of the "mother" of vinegar. Mother of vinegar is a mat that forms on the top of fermenting vinegar.

  • Do not use metal containers when making vinegar, because acid in the mixture will corrode metal or aluminum objects. Use glass, plastic, wood, enamel, or stainless steel containers for making or storing vinegar. The same holds true for making or storing foods that have more than 1 tablespoon of vinegar in the recipe.

  • If you want to make apple cider vinegar from store bought cider, make sure you use the unpasteurized variety. Also, chemical preservatives kill the yeast and your cider will not ferment.

  • You don't need to add yeast to your apple juice to make hard cider.

How Long Does It Take To Make?
The entire process between smashing your apples and enjoying the finished product takes roughly 4 to 8 months.

What Will I Need?
  • Apples - A bushel of apples yields about 3 gallons of juice.
  • Muslin sack, jelly bag or really clean pillowcase(in which to put the apple pulp to be squeezed)(if you don't use a juicer or an apple press)
  • Something with which to press the pulp to squeeze out the juice(if you don't use a juicer or an apple press). A potato masher works pretty well but it takes some elbow grease.
  • Clean containers or bottles(with lids) to hold your juice
  • Clean cotton wool or cheesecloth(as temporary lids, allowing the sweet cider to breathe)
  • 3 foot long rubber tube(this is only necessary if you're going to "rack off" your apple cider. Omit this if you're not)
  • Air lock caps(or substitute clean muslin fabric as temporary lids on the hard cider)
  • Cheesecloth or coffee filters with which to strain your finished product

Steps For Making Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Make a clean cider from ripe apples.
2. Yeasts ferment the natural food sugars to alcohol. This is called “yeast fermentation.”
3. Acetic acid bacteria (Acetobacter) convert the alcohol to acetic acid. This is called “acetic acid fermentation.”
4. Filter the vinegar(this is optional - read more below)
Copyright 2018
Step 1 - Making The Apple Cider

In order to make authentic apple cider vinegar, you are going to need fresh apple cider! Cider is usually best made from the winter and fall varieties of apples, since summer and green ones aren't sweet enough. Use organic apples if possible. You can experiment with different varieties to come up with your own blends.

Cider apples don't have to be perfect, but they need to be ripe and free of spoilage. Cut out any spoiled areas since they will cause the juice to ferment too rapidly and will ruin your cider.

Wash glass jars or bottles that will be used to hold your pressed apple juice in warm, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.

Prepare a clean muslin sack, jelly bag or pillow case for juicing the apples. Wash it and then rinse well.

Juicing Apples
Small household appliances or a fruit press can be used to juice your apples. Apples should be cored, cut up and then crushed. Put the crushed apple pulp into the clean muslin sack, or jelly bag, and press out the juice.

If you want to drink some of the juice now without making it into cider, pasteurizing is done by heating the juice to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Then pour the juice into clean glass jars or bottles and refrigerate. (skip pasteurization if you intend to go on to make apple cider vinegar)

*Note - Pasteurization is the heating process intended to remove potential problem bacteria from consumable liquids such as milk, juices etc. However, this process will also remove delicate nutrients and enzymes that may constitute a major portion of the food value of that consumed.

Making Sweet Cider
Begin with freshly pressed juice (non- pasteurized). If clear cider is what you want, allow the bottled cider to stand at 72 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 4 days.

(*TIP - An easy way to keep an eye on the temperature of your juice is to use an adhesive temperature strip stuck to the side of the jug or jar. You're welcome:))

Clean bottles should be filled to just below the brim. Stopper with new, clean cotton plugs or cover with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band instead of using a regular lid or cap. Warning! - If you put the regular lid on, pressure builds up inside the bottle during the fermentation process and the bottle will explode!

After 3 or 4 days, sediment will begin settling on the bottom as fermentation bubbles rise to the top. Now is the time to stop fermentation if you want sweet, mild cider. Extract the clear liquid from the sediment in the bottom by "racking off" the cider.