Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Making Peach Vinegar

After canning a batch of peaches recently I was reluctant to throw away the scraps. They smelled good and there was a fair amount of scrap. What to do with bruised peach flesh and skins? Hmm... How about peach vinegar? Wild yeast fermentation and conversion of the resulting peach liquor by further bacterial activity into vinegar. Pretty nifty trick. It's simple, takes mostly patience and provides another way to not let something go to waste.

There are many many sources online about fermenting and making vinegar. I'll include a bare minimum here and a few ideas for what to do with your vinegar. It should also be noted that while I used peaches, most any fruit will work. Most sources say citrus vinegars don't do as well and don't taste so great but that is admittedly hear say on my part. Peach, berry and other stone fruit vinegar is sometimes considered a drinking vinegar rather than something you might use for preservation. It has already graced our table in a nice peach vinaigrette and been made into a nice fizzy beverage. That alone would be enough to make a batch but I'm sure there are other uses ahead. Knowing that commercial vinegar is distilled to a standard 5% acetic acid, I'm left wondering what my recent batch is. That would certainly help if I intend to use it to make pickles or some other acid dependent thing. At least one source says this is a bad idea and that litmus paper cannot accurately measure the acidity of home brew vinegar. Not really worth getting sick over.

The basic method is nothing more than letting the fruit scraps ferment in sugar water, straining out the fruit and letting the resulting liquid acidify.

Sugar water

1/4 sugar dissolved in 1 quart of water

Make enough to cover the fruit in about a 3 or 4 to one ratio.

Put it into a glass or stoneware container, not metal. Cover the top with cloth or mesh to keep fruit flies out and let it sit for a week or so, stirring daily to prevent surface mold. Easy.

You will notice when it smells fermented. At this point strain out the fruit scraps and pour the whole thing back into the container you had it in and let it sit covered for a minimum of about two weeks but up to several months if you like. A white "scum" will form on top of the vinegar. This is the mother and should not be removed. Acetobactor is an aerobic bacteria and needs oxygen to do its job. Hence the floating mass on the surface of your liquid. Once your vinegar is at a point where you like it, you can bottle it or can it using plastic or old style glass lids. Vinegar will corrode metal lids and containers over time. Stick to glass, ceramic or plastic.

To make your peach vinegar beverage:

Add two or three tablespoons of peach(or other) vinegar to a pint glass, add a teaspoon(more or less) of your preferred sweetener and top off with ice and soda water.

For a dead simple salad dressing:

Splash enough vinegar over your salad to leave it wet, drizzle on the olive oil of your choice and top with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Almost too simple to call it dressing but it makes for a very nice salad.

You can read more about vinegar at Bragg and if you want to speed up your vinegar making process as well as insure positive results, you could add a couple tablespoons of Bragg's vinegar to your batch after the fruit has fermented. This wasn't necessary with mine and I had no trouble with the three week process but it's out there if you want it.

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