Last year we had about 50 pounds of apples to preserve. I made apple sauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling. Then I figured that I would try my hand at making hard apple cider. I decided not to pasteurize my crushed cider, and rely on the natural yeast strands to ferment my cider. I did everything right, so I thought. When it was time to finally taste my bounty I took a big swig only to discover that I had successfully brewed 5 gallons of apple cider vinegar. I was about to dump the entire batch, but that went against everything that I stood for in my quest towards self sufficiency.
I remembered that I used ACV when canning salsa to prevent bacteria growth, and recalled my grandmother’s kitchen smelling of her vinegar cleaners. There had to be other uses for it as well. I started by investigating what exactly is apple cider vinegar? It is made by taking crushed apples, and adding yeast. The sugars ferment into alcohol, just like when making wine.
The word “vinegar” actually means sour wine in the French language. Bacteria is then added to the alcohol which causes further fermentation, and produces acetic acid, which is what makes it vinegar. Apparently my apples held a natural bacteria that skunked the entire batch.
Commercial cleaners have been linked to respiratory problems, and increased cancer risks for humans and animals. As a mother of 4 I often worry about the chemicals that my children are exposed to. I see their little hands on the floors, and on the glass and think about what is being transferred to their skin, or even worse, to their mouths.
Commercial cleaners have been linked to respiratory problems, and increased cancer risks for humans and animals.
Apple cider vinegar replaces the need for almost every surface cleaner in a home. For a streak free glass cleaner, hard surface disinfectant, and hard floor cleaner mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. This mixture can be added to a spray bottle, or even to your steam cleaner for hardwoods and tile. ACV also will naturally eliminate odors on surfaces. A mix of 50% ACV to 50% water eliminates and cleans urine from wet beds, or pet stains in carpets.
Add ACV to your toilet water overnight, and scrub in the morning. You can add ACV to your dishwasher to replace detergent as well. One of the best cleaning tricks I have discovered is placing a bowl with 1 cup water and ½ cup ACV in the microwave, and heating for 5 minutes. Let stand another 5 minutes, and then wipe the greasiest microwave clean with ease. This will take that microwave at the office, the one that has 5 years worth of exploding hot pockets baked into it, and make it sparkle.
ACV can be used on sunburns, acne, to fade bruising, and to eliminate dandruff. For red sunburn skin simply add 1 cup of ACV to a warm bath to lessen redness. After washing your face you can apply using a cotton ball to increase your skin’s PH, and reduce blemishes. You can also rinse your hair and massage onto your scalp to sooth dry scalp, and make your hair shiny. For the hair rinse simply mix 1 tbsp ACV to 1 cup water, and rinse your hair once a week with the solution after shampooing.
ACV is also used in aiding weight loss. Taken daily is can lessen sugar cravings, aid in digestion, increase energy, and boost metabolism. Mix 1 tbsp per cup of water, and sip throughout the day.
ACV is also great for fighting toenail fungus, bug bites, eczema, skin rashes, and disinfecting cuts. Your pets can also benefit from the use of ACV. ½ cup of ACV to 1 cup water rubbed into their skin or applied using a spray bottle will deter fleas. 1 tbsp can also be added to their water to improve overall health.
When I was sick as a child my father would heat up a mug of hot water, add 1 tbsp ACV, 3 tbsp raw organic honey, and a cinnamon stick. This hot drink soothed sore throats, and cut the strength of the cold or flu almost immediately. If we felt a cold coming on he would make us the hot remedy, and often times we were able to head it off before we ever got really ill. This is excellent for strep throat as well.
There are many health benefits to ACV, so many in fact that we should all be taking a tablespoon of ACV daily. ACV can relieve gout, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, increases liver function, reduce blood glucose levels in diabetics, promote the growth of healthy gut flora, and ease constipation. ACV has anti-inflammatory properties, and overall boosts immunity in your body.
I ended up making my own by accident, but ACV is sold wherever groceries are sold. I highly recommend finding an organic unfiltered brand, but I also love that a two dollar bottle can clean and disinfect my house, ease a cold, heal a wart, and supply us with so many other health benefits. I use it for every room in my house, and every member of my family, and that botched batch of hard cider ended up being an enormous blessing.
If you are interested in making your own apple cider vinegar, here is an easy and delicious recipe.
• 1 wide mouthed quart jar
• 2-3 apples cut into cubes
• 1 tbsp organic sugar
1. Add cut apples to jar, sprinkle with sugar, and fill with enough water to fully cover the apples.
2. Place a cheesecloth or thin cloth over the jar, and fasten with a rubber band to allow for the mixture to breath.
3. Place in a dark spot for 4 weeks.
4. After 4 weeks strain the liquid into a clean jar, discard the apple pieces, and cover with the cheesecloth.
5. Allow the strained liquid to sit in a dark area for another 4-6 weeks.
6. Seal the jar and you are ready to start using your organic homemade apple cider vinegar.
Melissa Souza lives on a 1-acre, organically managed homestead property in rural Washington State where she raises backyard chickens and meat rabbits and grows plums, apples, pears, a variety of berries, and all the produce her family needs. She loves to inspire other families to save money, be together, and take steps toward self-reliance no matter where they live. Connect with her on Facebook.
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