Apple cider vinegar is my favourite way to clean our produce that we buy package free. We've been refilling it whenever we get over to Perth to a shop called Foodsmith's, but we're always working on getting back to basics over here and decreasing our consumption. I couldn't believe how simple this was to make ourselves, and making it is probably easier than refilling it! Plus, we are saving an additional carbon footprint of the production of that item elsewhere being transported to a shop and then whatever packaging that creates, even with refilling our own jars.
How to make Apple Cider Vinegar
We used 1/2 gallon or 1.9L mason jars for making our ACV, but the ingredients can be adjusted as needed.
1. Add all ingredients to the jar: 1 cup raw, organic cane sugar (can be found in your bulk shop to save some packaging!), 1/2 cup ACV (with "the mother" is best), organic apple scraps with woody parts removed (stems and seeds)
2. Fill the jar with filtered water (we used tap water and were fine)
3. Cover the opening with a cloth (we used a scrap from an old Mini Mioche tee of our sons') - secure with an elastic or canning ring
4. Let sit for approximately 6 weeks, agitating occasionally during that time (push the apples below the surface and stir up the sugar in the bottom)
5. Strain apples out and compost
How to use ACV for Produce Washing
Produce wash seems like one of those things that is a bit of unnecessary plastic, especially because it usually comes in a single use plastic spray bottle. We opt for using a healthy splash of ACV in our sink full of water, allowing it to soak, and then scrubbing the fruits and veggies. ACV can also be bottled in a reusable spray bottle with 1 part ACV and 2 parts water.
A way to increase the action of the ACV is to add baking soda to the sink mix for soaking, and we sometimes do this for items we know have a higher pesticide residue (such as apples if we cannot buy them organically) or during periods of higher illnesses, like the winter. Buying direct from a farmer can decrease the number of people handling your produce, but that's quite tough in the winter months.
DIY a Fruit Fly Trap
We also frequently use ACV to make our homemade fruit fly trap.
We add a couple pumps of unscented dish soap (from the refillery), about a half cup of ACV and a half cup of water (or less of both of those, it's not too specific and doesn't need to be) to a jar with some holes in the lid. I used to add a lemon slice but I've found that isn't necessary for collecting a lot of flies, the ACV is! I also used to reuse some plastic wrap for a lid that I would secure with an elastic and poke fork tine holes in, but that is also completely not necessary! Those buys get in there without either of those additions, so why not keep it simple, right!
Quite a Savings
This year, after apple picking, we made a big batch with this recipe. Our first blend was completed in the summer, and I just did 2 of the 2L mason jars to start. The "mother" that developed was incredible, and so we were able to use that ACV the second time around. I have read that some ACV can develop mould, but we were able to stir ours every 5-6 days or so (you can use a glass weight to help if not so that you don't have raw fruit sitting at the top that isn't submerged) and did not use any seeds or core of the apples.
So, this next batch will yield us approximately 14-15L of ACV for the cost of 10 or so apples and 4 cups of organic cane sugar! The money we saved will cover the cost of a set of these bigger mason jars, which we will set aside to do larger batches like this over time to keep things simpler for us.
I'm curious to see if we have made enough to last us to the next apple picking season!
Let us know if you try this recipe, share this with a friend, add a comment below, or reach out if you have any questions!