I preserve hundreds of pounds in fruit every year, and I always felt bad throwing away peels, pits and cores until I discovered using the scraps for juice, cider, syrup and jam. Then, I learned about making vinegar and found yet another use for fruit scraps.
Homemade fruit vinegar is a probiotic food, a snap to make, prevents waste, and is a unique pantry staple. This vinegar can be used for cooking, cleaning, and as a hair rinse. (I use mine instead of conditioner daily.) When buying fruit, you really do get a bang for your buck using fruit in its entirety.
There is a difference between infusing vinegars and fermenting ingredients to create vinegar. Infused vinegar is leaching flavors from herbs and fruits from store bought vinegar. Home fermented vinegar involves taking water, sugar and something like fruit and allowing it to ferment to achieve a PH of about 3 to 4. The bacteria turns the sugar into vinegar, so don’t be afraid of the sugar or cut back. Also, you would not use this vinegar for canning, as that requires a PH of at least 5.
I have created pineapple, strawberry, blueberry, peach, apple, and mango fruit vinegars from scratch.
I take scrubbed peels and cores from pineapple, peach and mangos, but strawberries I use whole. Blueberries have a tough exterior, so those get crushed, or I use leftover blueberries from steam juicing.
Home fermented vinegars form a mother which is a “gelatinous membrane called a biofilm that forms on top of a liquid being made into vinegar. It seems like a strange substance but it is completely natural and is actually a form of cellulose created by bacteria that produce acetic acid, the acid that is in all vinegar,” according to the website Preserve & Pickle.
I actually save mine in a lidded jar, covering the mother with vinegar. I use these active cultures to give other ferments a boost by just adding them to a new brew.
To make vinegar you will need:
half gallon jar
1/2 cup of sugar, divided
Fill jar with fruit scraps, and cover with spring water. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and stir. Put cheese cloth or a coffee filter on top of jar. After three days, add another 1/4 cup of sugar and stir. I let mine sit two months, or until at least I reach a PH of 3 using test strips.
I strain the fruit from the vinegar, and decant.