I use a lot of vinegar in our home, it has so many uses! On any given day I'm using vinegar for cooking, cleaning or even hair rinse! I've tried unsuccessfully in the past to make apple cider vinegar from scraps left after processing and canning fresh apples into homemade Apple Pie Filling. But for some reason, the mixture always seems to go bad instead of being magically transformed into that miracle byproduct that is vinegar. So, I typically prefer to make my homemade vinegar with pineapple scraps.
Now this really is a win-win situation. I've never failed at my pineapple vinegar and it's so easy to make! I'll show you how I do it:
Gather Your Ingredients
To make my vinegar, I use the scraps that previously would have just been composted. I thoroughly wash and rinse the skin and cut off the top of a fresh pineapple. (You can plant the top and it'll actually produce a pineapple in 2 years!)
Then, I cut off the bottom and peel and core the pineapple. I have a handy-dandy pineapple slicer/corer, so peeling and coring this pineapple took less than a minute! Now, it's time to enjoy that pineapple's sweet juicy deliciousness.
Now, I turn my attention to the pineapple scraps. I dice the core, peel and chop bottom pieces into approximately 1-inch chunks. I need a vessel to hold my vinegar while it's fermenting and glass is an ideal material to use. I like to use a large, wide-mouth jar that's much larger than I need, because it seems to make stirring easier.
You'll want to sanitize the jar to assure it doesn't contain any yeasts or bacteria that you don't want in your vinegar. Sanitizing the jar is easy! Just wash it with soap and water, and place it on a cookie sheet and into the oven set at 220 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes.
Assembling Your Vinegar Ingredients
After my jar is sanitized and cooled, I add one quart of filtered water and 1/4-cup sugar. I give the mixture a quick stir to dissolve the sugar. All that's left to do is add my pineapple scraps. I drop the pineapple chunks into the jar, give it all one last stir and cover the mouth of the jar with cheesecloth. This allows the wild yeasts and organisms naturally present in the kitchen to help the vinegar along.
I keep this covered jar on my kitchen counter to remind me of my daily maintenance to it. Each day, I stir the vinegar with a wooden spoon and recover the jar with cheesecloth. By stirring the mixture every day, I'm able to keep tabs on the vinegar's progress. Stirring also introduces oxygen into the mix so it can do its magic.
I take this daily opportunity to smell the vinegar and make sure it still smells right. Fermenting vinegar smell is good, rotting pineapple smell is not so good! Within a few days a thin, light gray film covers the top of the liquid. I spoon off as much as I can and just stir the rest back into the vinegar.
Two Weeks Later: Test The Vinegar For Taste
After two weeks, I dip a clean spoon into the vinegar and give it a little taste. I'm looking for that subtle yet tart vinegar taste I love and by now it should be about right. There are lots of variables including the room temperature as well as the wild yeasts I've got going on in my kitchen. Vinegar will proceed faster if the temps are in the 70s or 80s, slower if the kitchen is cooler. So a quick taste will let me know if it's where I like it or not.
If I feel it's not quite there, I'll leave the pineapple pieces in the jar for another week, stirring daily. But if it's to my liking I'll remove the pineapple chunks now. The pineapple pieces are still not wasted, I drop them into my compost tumbler so another magic product can be produced — compost!
I still need the vinegar to mature so I leave it in the jar covered with cheesecloth for 2 more weeks. During this time, there's no daily maintenance required. I typically leave it on my kitchen counter so I can keep an eye on it. At the end of that time, I sample my pineapple vinegar once again. If I'm satisfied with the taste at this point, I'm ready to prepare it for storage in my pantry.
Storing Your Homemade Vinegar
I like to use a flip-top glass bottle or jar, or perhaps just a quart-sized canning jar to store my vinegar. I sanitize the jar using the same procedure as above by washing with soap and water and placing it in an oven heated to 220 degrees for 10 minutes (if using flip-top jar, remove the rubber gasket after washing and replace it when the jar's been sanitized).
After the jar cools, I pour my finished vinegar into the clean jar, straining it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any small pineapple bits. If I want the vinegar even more clear I might strain it through a coffee filter to remove even the very tiny bits of pineapple. But typically this fine-mesh strainer is quite sufficient for me.
When capping my jar, I've found the metal lids don't work very well as the vinegar seems to corrode the lid if it's made of metal. So, if I'm using a canning jar to store my vinegar, I always opt for one of my BPA-free *Tattler Lids instead of anything metal.
The resulting vinegar has a subtle scent of pineapple with the tangy taste of vinegar that I love. I like to use it in dishes that naturally highlight the taste of vinegar. Good examples are a fresh vinegar/oil salad dressing or maybe stirred into pasta salad. When my vinegar runs low, all I have to do is buy another fresh pineapple and enjoy it, then start the easy vinegar procedure again. Oh the sacrifice!
I typically use my vinegar within a few months so I don't feel the need to further preserve it by pasteurizing or canning. I love that it's pure, raw vinegar! But if you'll be storing your vinegar for more than a few months you might want to consider further preserving it using those methods.
Tammy Taylor lives and works on a Northeast Texas ranch, where she writes about home cooking, gardening, food preservation, and DIY living on her ~Texas Homesteader~ blog. Connect with Tammy on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Read all of Tammy's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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