Apple Cider Vinegar aka Le Vinaigre de Cidre de Pomme …
I just can’t help it. It sounds tastier and more refined in French. Ap-ple ci-der vin-e-gar … it’s all pa-pa-pa and sz-sz and ve-ve-ve sounds in English. Harsh and popping off your tongue, exactly the way I’m hoping my vinegar does not turn out. My friend Carl Legge inspired this adventure — namely making cider vinegar from my windfall Cox apples au d’complet with worms, flies, maggots, and lightly drizzled with bird droppings. Carl makes a lot of interesting things from substances that one might otherwise either overlook or discard. I never discard windfall apples, and there are still several bucket loads of them waiting for me on the ground, but turning a kilo of the worst damaged ones into vinegar was something I’d not considered before now. He assures me that it’s dead easy. Dead is probably a word best not contemplated in conjunction with food because the thought of salmonella did cross my mind whilst I prepared the apples.
25 Sept: I collected about 1.5 kilos of bruised, hole-drilled apples from the ground, washed them with tap water to remove the dirt and pollution, and then chopped them up into 2-3cm cubes, removing the worms, maggots and larvae hiding in the core. From that total I had 1 kilo of apples (skin on). Plus I ate a few chunks. I always nibble what I’m cooking. Tut-tut.
Then I made the sugar-water solution of 1 litre bottled water and 100g granulated sugar. Carl’s recipe didn’t stipulate bottled water but our water is highly chlorinated at the moment because of heavy rain – I didn’t want to risk the chlorine killing the bacteria that would ferment this bowl of bobbing beauties. The sugar-water took nearly 4-hours to cool down to a luke-warm finger-test temperature. I have no idea why. Chemistry is a mystery. Or maybe it’s physics. Whatever – they’re both a mystery. I tasted the sugar-water, and I was pleased to discover that it wasn’t too sweet.
The apple chunks awaited immersion in their sweet watery bath … and I decided to eat dinner. I’d lost track of time with all this playing about with sugar and water and apples and maggots bouncing across the kitchen worktop. The maggots should have put any right-thinking woman off her food, but not me – if my tummy had knees it’d be on them begging for food. Perhaps I was a bird in a previous life…
Anyway — I poured the sugar-water over the apple chunks, set a plate on top to keep the chunks submerged, and then draped a cotton tea towel over the bowl. It’s sitting in the utility room at the moment where it’s slightly warm from the morning sun.
My hope at the moment is that the house doesn’t smell like a distillery or brewery in a few days. I don’t think hubby will approve if that happens but time will tell, and I’m excited to follow this adventure for a few weeks.