We live in Hawaii and have an abundance of homegrown fruit. Our neighbors don’t always know what to do with their extra fruit, so they give it to us. Sometimes we have so much produce that even our family of six can’t possibly polish it all off before it’s ready for the compost bin. Ever in search of ways to maximize resources, we’ve learned how to turn some of this extra fruit — bananas in particular — into something we would otherwise need to buy at the store: vinegar.
Vinegar has dozens of well-established uses around the home and homestead — as an all-purpose cleaner, an antibacterial agent, and a beneficial food amendment for livestock. We rely on vinegar to make our own shampoo and conditioner, as well as refrigerator pickles and salad dressings.
Learning how to make fruit vinegar is easy. The only required “equipment” is a glass container with a lid (we use quart and half-gallon glass jars). We add to the jar the amount of fruit we have to work with, and then add 1 part sugar to 4 parts fruit, 1 to 2 parts water to 1 part fruit, and 1 teaspoon of standard baker’s yeast. We leave some room for the fruit to expand as it ferments, and leave the container’s lid loose so the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation can vent and not over-pressurize (and break) the container. We let this mixture sit out of direct sunlight for two or three weeks and then strain it through a cheesecloth into a clean container.
The process is simple. Our teenage son is in charge of production, and a local community-supported agriculture program was so impressed with his efforts that they recently donated a 40-pound box of bananas to help him kick-start a small business selling high-end banana cider vinaigrette.
For more detailed instructions about how to safely make cider vinegar at home, visit the Penn State Extension website. — MOTHER