Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

homemade apple cider vinegar

I love turning trash into treasure, and this apple cider vinegar recipe is an example of that.  When I saw this method for making vinegar in Anne Simpson’s book, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox, I knew I wanted to try it.  Apple cider vinegar has so many uses, including salad dressing and turning milk into buttermilk.  Some people swear by cider vinegar as a digestive aid, a skin care product, and a hair conditioner (see this Apple Cider Vinegar book).  It costs next to nothing to make, and it doesn’t require any work.  If you can make a spot for the jar on your counter, you can make this vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar


  • Cores and peels from 6-8 apples (ideally organic)
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • Water to cover


  1. After you use the apples to make a wonderful apple treat (such as apple pie bread), place the cores and peels in a large, wide-mouthed jar. I used a 4-cup jar, but you can adjust the size of the jar to the amount of apple scraps you're using.
  2. Cover the scraps with water and stir in the honey.
  3. Place a paper towel on top of the jar, and secure it with a band.
  4. Let the mixture soak for 2 weeks, and then strain out the liquid. Discard the solids.
  5. Return the liquid to the jar and cover it again with a paper towel and band. Leave it for 4 more weeks, stirring daily.
  6. Taste it and see if it has the acidity you would like. If it does, transfer it to a covered bottle for storage. If not, leave it in the wide-mouthed jar for a little while longer, checking every few days.

Apple scraps soaking in honey water

Apple scraps soaking in honey water

The bubbles show the fermentation process after one week.

gThe bubbles show the fermentation process after one week.

Apple Cider Vinegar Price Breakdown

I don’t assign a price to water in my recipes, and since apple scraps are usually discarded, this vinegar costs just $.30 to make, or $.10 a cupThat’s less than a penny per tablespoon.  It’s a wonderful flavor on salad and a helpful digestive aid.
Linking to Make Your Own Monday, Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday, Frugal Tuesday Tip, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, What’s in the Box?


  1. Will this end up being like brags apple cider vinegar? Brags has the mother of vinegar in it. I wonder can I add some of brags to start then go from there?

    • Annemarie says:

      I’ve heard great things about Braggs, but I haven’t actually tried it. I don’t see why you couldn’t include some of their vinegar to start.

    • I add 1-2 TBSP of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother and 1-2 TBSPS of sugar to each 1/2 gallon of vinegar that I am making

      Also, I allow my apple cider vinegar to sit for about 2-4 months. A “mother” of the vinegar will form over the top and there will be a settlement on the bottom, this is all natural and healthy.
      The mother is a clear round object, I would describe it as looking a little bit like a jelly fish!

      • I’ve been buying Bragg’s for years and it’s up to almost 6 bucks for a small bottle. What IS The Mother? I thought it was the live fermented cultures?

        • Kate, the mother can look like a little jelled substance floating in the vinegar, but for me it’s just the sediment that sits at the bottom of the bottle. You’re right about what it is – live enzymes and bacteria with health benefits.

  2. What a clever idea! I usually give the cores to the composting pigs, but they cannot live forever, so I’ll remember this.


    • Annemarie says:

      My compost loves apple cores, but I’d rather use things in the kitchen when I can! I hope you’ll give this a try.

  3. catherine c. says:

    Can’t wait to try it! Few questions – I have some organic apples that have been in the fridge for like two weeks and are slightly “styrofoamy” in texture now. Do you think it would turn out ok if I used the whole apple if they are a little old? Or I shouldn’t use them because they aren’t as sweet anymore? Also, isn’t apple cinder vinegar usually yellowish? Do they add coloring to it or does the type of apple make it a certain color? Thanks!

    • Annemarie says:

      Great questions, Catherine! I think the red skin from my apples turns the vinegar pink, so I suppose the commercial cider vinegar either uses yellow skinned apples or leaves out the skin altogether. And as for your aging apples in the fridge, I think it would be fine to use the whole apples.

      • So I definitely made it and it was going well. Lots of bubbles! Then we had a house showing so I put it in the bottom of a cabinet. I forgot about it and my 15 month old opened the cabinet and spilled it all over the floor! fermenting apples do not smell awesome. Half of the apples were in the jar still so I put some more water in it. There are still bubbles in it, but do you think I need to just restart with fresh apple cores? I can only guess it won’t be as strong.

        • Oh no! I can imagine that happening in my house too when my kids were little. I would keep it going if it’s still bubbling – what do you have to lose? If it doesn’t seem to get strong enough, it will still be usable as a household cleaner.

    • Actually, older apples make an excellent base for apple cider vinegar!

      And you are correct, that it normally is a dark color, I normally let my apple cider vinegar cure for 2-4 months, the color will be darker by then.

  4. This will be a fun one to try :-)

  5. I’m so going to try this tomorrow. I was going to dehydrate some apples for snacks so I will have cores and peels ready to go. Thanks for the great idea.

  6. I did this too! you can read about my experience at http://juliecache.com/2012/10/05/from-scratch-cider-vinegar/.html

  7. And thanks for joining the Frugal Tuesday Tip. Don’t you love saving money?

  8. Genius!!! Thanks for sharing :) I too hate to waste, and even though we compost, I like the idea of using it for edible purposes….

    thanks for linking up!

  9. Is it ok to use raw unfiltered honey or do you use the pastuerized filtered honey?

  10. On step #4 where you strain out the liquid, do you discard the apple scraps then? Thanks!

  11. Antoni Raj says:

    Thanks for sharing. will try this one at home.

  12. Why honey instead of sugar? Normally honey isn’t recommended in ferments because it has anti-microbial properties that interfere with the development of bacteria.

    • Annemarie says:

      Susie, I don’t use white sugar in my recipes because it’s so highly processed. This recipe works for me with honey, but it will also work with white sugar if you’re more comfortable going that route.

    • george milton says:

      Yes honey retards fermentation of alcohol and is why it makes mead (honey beer) take 9 months to ferment. This retarding has less of an impact on vinegar fermentation than it does on alcohol fermentation. In fact this is why it is so important to have completely sterile fermenting jugs for mead making because the slightest contaminant and your honey beer will turn into vinegar because it is allowed to ferment for so long and thus your beer will easily turn to vinegar instead of wine.

  13. This is Awesome! I go through a ton of ACV … maybe I’ll start making my own. Thanks :)

    • Annemarie says:

      I recommend it, Nicole. After all the work that goes into peeling a big batch of apples, you might as well get the most of it.

  14. I’m in the process of making thid but i have more of a greenish mold on top, is this normal?

  15. NativeAmerican says:

    I have a question. You know how when you are rising dough, you have to be careful about mold or mildew in your home? Would these affect this vinegar? I’m asking because we have a stone wall basement, there is some mildew, due to the sump hole and the run off from the A/C…and occasional run off from extreme rain. If I were to make this vinegar, I would want to do so in the basement, as my kitchen is entirely too small for anything like this. And I would hate for it to go bad.

    • Annemarie says:

      It may be okay in your basement, but I’m not sure. To play it safe, I would avoid the basement and find a spot in a closet, behind a chair, or somewhere else in your main living space.

  16. Hi! I was making some applesauce the other day for my little ones and used the scraps to try your recipe. Two weeks have gone by and I just realized that I had the jar covered with a lid…what’s the verdict? Should I throw it out or continue with the 4 weeks? Thanks for your help!!

    • Annemarie says:

      Ambri, I recommend continuing with the process and using the vinegar for cleaning instead of eating. Hopefully with apple season around the corner you can try again.

  17. During apple season I will have a lot of peels and cores. What do you think about canning the vinegar?

  18. cathy lam says:

    why does some recipe called for sugar/honey and others dont? i guess the sweet will help speed up the fermentation? does it matter what kind of apple you have sweet/tart? thank you for the recipe

    • Annemarie says:

      Cathy, the sweetener is part of the fermentation process. You can use any kind of apple scraps to make cider vinegar. Good luck!

  19. Hi, while making ACV,how do I keep the MOTHER in ACV asi don’t want to discard it.

    • Annemarie says:

      Afshan, you can leave the mother in the bottle or add it to a new bottle of vinegar to speed up the process.

  20. Hi,
    Thank you very much for the recipe as well as taking the time to answer all our questions! Much appreciated.
    Due to my own stupidity I forgot to stir the mixture at the end of the first week of the second phase for 3 days!(after straining and at the end of the first week in to the 4 weeks phase). Can I still use it as vinegar or has its fate been determined as cleaning solution?

    • Annemarie says:

      It should still be fine, Lili. I don’t think it will be a problem, but use your judgment if the final product seems funky.

  21. I would love your help…I began two differing containers (first one smaller, aged the peels and cores a day and then water, sugar…covered w/cheesecloth, put jar away; 2nd began several days later, forgot to ‘brown’ for a day or so the peels and cores. Water, honey..covered w/cheesecloth.

    Now just over a week later, 1st batch…I just ‘peeked’ at the jar, cheesecloth ‘brown’ w/fluid? Pulled it out of its hidey hole to discover tiny holes in cheesecloth, two fruit flies on cheesecloth…pulled off rubber banded cheesecloth to discover larva! Dumped all, scrubbed jar…

    2nd jar…fruit have floated above water line…fuzzy mold on fruit…do I discard entire jar? Or as suggested above, ‘pull out fuzzy covered fruit’, recover and let’r go…?

    How to I push the fruit and keep it down w/out plastic, metal, etc. in touch w/fruit and liquid…or not a concern?

    thank you so much..

    • Michaele, I think it will be fine if you remove the moldy fruit and keep it going. I don’t push the fruit down, but I do cover with a paper towel rather than cheesecloth. I’m wondering if the holes in the cheesecloth may be causing these issues. I recommend continuing the process with jar #2, and if it doesn’t taste right at the end you can use it as a household cleaner. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out!

  22. When you say acv mother, is that like a Scoby? If so, would using a Scoby in mine be useful? I happen to have a few right now from making kambucha

  23. If I wanted to use the Apple Cider for cleaning what can it be used for?

    • Julie, you can mix it with water to clean floors, sinks, etc. I put 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle and use it as a window cleaner. You can do a search online to find other cleaning recipes for ACV.

    • equal parts ACV and water work great for cleaning up pet accidents! I’ve tried those really expensive “miracle” enzymes and they work so so…this works so much better! On carpet you really saturate it…..let it sit 10 minutes, then soak as much as you can up with an old towel and run a fan over it to let it dry. The towel washes easily and does NOT smell like vinegar or pee. The floor smells lightly of vinegar for a day or so but when it dries it doesn’t smell like anything to humans, but dogs and cats still smell it so they won’t go there again!

  24. I started my ACV experiment a week ago using no sweetener – just scraps and water. It is bubbling and looking ok so far. Should I add honey at this point? Can I use the mother as a SCOBY for other purposes?

  25. I can’t get the Braggs acv here where I live but they do have organic apples. I will be trying this, thanks.

  26. What is MOTHER and what are its benefits? I’m in the process of making your ACV as well. Is that the clear pink slimy stuff? I’ve been skimming it out. Should I leave it in there?

  27. Jocelyn Wilmot says:

    Thanks so much. I can get Brags but so expensive. I am allergic to corn, but do use white vinegar to clean almost everything. Been thinking lately this may not be so wise, especially seeing as its GMO also. My kids never finish their apples even when cut up, I can’t help because yes I am also allergic to uncooked apples. Thinking of trying this at least not GMO, its basically free, and I might not have a problem with it because the fermentation might kill the enzymes I am allergic to just like cooking does(Q10 effect). I guess I can research that while waiting for it to get done.

  28. I want to try this in a 5 gallon pail with wild apples that grow along the snake river here in Idaho. Have you any idea of the weight of honey/sugar to apple?
    Did you get a dehydrator yet? If not make sure you get one of quality. I got an “Excalibur” and it is the most awesome thing in my kitchen besides my sourdough starter.

    • Forrest, I think about a tablespoon of honey/sugar to a pound of apples will work. And I did just recently get a 5-tray Excalibur. It’s a great machine.

      • NICE! Thanks for the reply. Im starting my ACV now. Will a burp valve work in place of a towel or does it need wild yeast to ferment? ( like sourdough starter)
        Also if you make jerky try Worcestershire sauce and bbq sauce marinade (5 to 1) with a few pureed fresh jalapenos. Best jerky ever. ( smart and final has gallons of lee and perrins Worcester sauce for about 10$)
        Thanks again.

  29. Hello i was hoping for some help in making my first apple cider vinegar. The scoop is that I managed to have some mother form from my attempt last month of making pear vinegar (very exciting). Now I have a large bottle of sweet apple cider picked up from a farm last month. The bottle says it’s pasturized sweet apple cider and I read that it has no preservatives or the like and no sugars added. My question is does it matter that it’s pasturized since I can put the mother that I already have? Also I had tried to make some peach vinegar I left it seating for about 2 months. There was a slight jelly looking thing floating but nothing like my pear mother. At about 3 to 4 weeks it had a slight vinegary taste however when I tasted it tonight it was watery. What did I do wrong?

    • Dawn, I’ve never tried peach or pear vinegar before, so I’m not sure what went wrong. I don’t actually use apple cider to make my vinegar, just apple scraps. Good luck!

      • Thank you Annemarie for the reply. My pear vinegar turned out awesome you should try it. ( A friend of mine gave me some pears from her tree and just like apples I used the scraps) Also I made some cherry vinegar and it looks like it’s going some where, just saw that the mother is forming. We will see if the sweet apple cider does’t work than luckily it’s apple season!!!! By the way thank you for all the info and the pictures help a lot.

  30. So this doesn’t spoil?

  31. I started out to make a pear wine, but for the first time ever, it went vinegary before I even added the yeast and sugar. When I realized it was vinegary, I still added the yeast and sugar, thinking that I could save it. Not! It has a slight film of dead yeast cultures floating, but no mould and it smells yummy, albeit vinegary. Can I just strain this and use it as a vinegar?


  1. [...] got some in her box last week and can tell you all about them.  Want to learn how to make your own Apple Cider Vinegar?  Annemarie of Real Food. Real Deals. can show you how to turn your kitchen scraps into a useful [...]

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