Skip to Content

How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar from Scraps

Plant Based Recipes

Last Updated on September 15, 2022

Learn how to make apple cider vinegar using scraps to save waste and use what you already have. There are many uses for homemade vinegar, and it’s very inexpensive!

Homemade apple cider vinegar is easy to make and takes minimal effort. We will go over how to make the best apple cider vinegar and will answer all your questions like, “can apple cider vinegar go bad?”

how to make apple cider vinegar

best apple cider vinegar

Remember that apple sauce recipe from a while back? Well, I hope you saved your peels and cores because now it’s time to make some homemade apple cider vinegar!

Yes, you can actually make homemade vinegar. I know it sounds wild, but it’s honestly a piece of (apple) cake!

homemade apple cider vinegar:

I’ve been making homemade apple cider vinegar for over five years now. It’s SO easy and SO cheap. There are a few different ways that you can do it. You can use a whole apple that’s been chopped and chunked, or you can use the peels and cores!

I personally prefer to use peels and cores because it’s a great way to use up food that would otherwise be going to the compost bin.

Don’t get me wrong, composting is great! I’m a big fan and think it’s incredibly important. You can read more in a few of my composting blog posts:

But, it’s always better to make use of your scraps before they hit the bin. Keep those resources in play for as long as possible and save some money too.

Because when a ‘waste’ product becomes something delicious and yummy – that’s MY kind of recipe! Plus, your pocketbook will thank you too.

If you’re looking for more recipes that utilize scraps, check out this blog post full of ideas for cooking with food scraps.

homemade vinegar

the tools:

  • You need to make sure that you’re using a very clean quart sized jar!
  • rubber band
  • swatch of cloth

homemade vinegar ingredients:

  • 2 cups of apple peels and cores
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 cups of filtered water

how to make apple cider vinegar:

  1. place the apple pieces in the glass jar
  2. fill the jar with filtered water
  3. add in the sugar and shake until it dissolves
  4. cover the jar with the swatch of cloth and a rubber band
  5. let the jar sit in a dark place for about 3-4 weeks
  6. stir it occasionally and make sure that the apple pieces are fully are submerged
  7. after 3-4 weeks, strain out the apple pieces and compost
  8. leave the liquid in the jar for another 3-4 weeks
  9. then it’s ready to use!
apple peels in a jar

homemade apple cider vinegar FAQ:

I have a full video tutorial on my instagram that you can watch, and I’m answering some of the most common questions here.

does it matter what kind of apples you use?

You can use any type of apple — in fact; you could even use a different fruit altogether. You could make a pear cider vinegar, pineapple, persimmon, fig, or anything your heart fancies.

Depending on the sugar content of the fruit, you might just need to add a little bit more to your homemade apple cider vinegar starter.

do you have to use sugar when making apple cider vinegar?

Sugar is a very important part of the fermenting process. One of the comments on my instagram post explained the process so well, that I’m going to quote them. “To make vinegar, you first need to make an alcohol – so the sugar is there so that the yeasts on the apple cores can consume it to create an apple cider, and then bacteria converts that alcohol to acetic acid, making a vinegar.

“You technically could do it without the sugar, but you’d need to make the sugar in the apples much easier to access (probably by juicing them) in order for the yeasts to colonize your solution faster than mold spores could. Refined sugar is very accessible food for yeasts (but not molds or bacteria), so adding it has a preservative effect and gives the yeast a head start and reduces the chance that molds or pathogenic bacteria will colonize your solution before it ferments!” – Chel-z Birch Wyse

can you use honey instead of sugar?

I tried using honey to make a batch of apple cider vinegar, and it didn’t go super well. I’ve heard it’s possible, but it’s a much longer process. It works so much better with the sugar, so even if you’re in a very low sugar household like we are, it’s worth getting some!

I’d borrow half a cup from a friend / family member or just get a scoop from your local bulk bin. That’s certainly one benefit of buying without a package — you can get exactly what you need. For more info on bulk bins, check out my blog post The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Grocery Shopping.

bowl with fresh apples

do you need to remove the seeds from your apple cores?

If you’re making apple cider vinegar from apple scraps – which you totally should because #EndFoodWaste – you might be wondering if you need to remove the apple seeds.

You certainly can if you’re feeling overly cautious, but you won’t be crushing them, grinding them, ingesting them, or even leaving them in the mixture. And the average person would have to eat over 100 seeds to get sick. (source)

does homemade apple cider vinegar need a preservative?

Vinegar is a preservative, but until it’s fully converted, you do need to keep a close eye on it to ensure all of your apples stay submerged. If the apples hit the air, they can grow mold, and if they do, your batch will be bad.

If you want a foolproof hack, check out the last faq below!

how do you use your homemade apple cider vinegar?

Here are 7 uses for homemade vinegar. It’s one of the most versatile products in my home!

  • salad dressing
  • homemade pickles (I love pickled green beans and red onions!)
  • I use a splash when cooking rice for a little bit of acidity
  • A splash for a produce wash
  • Hair rinse to remove any excess build up
  • In homemade cleaning products
  • A natural weed killer

P.S. A homemade vinaigrette is perfect for topping this spinach, apple, and walnut salad.

can apple cider vinegar go bad?

Good news — your homemade vinegar will last pretty much forever! It’s a fermented product, and the ‘expiration’ date on most vinegars you buy in store is completely arbitrary. According to the vinegar institute: “Because of its acid nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration.” It’s just one more reason why this is the best apple cider vinegar!

how to make apple cider vinegar process faster?

Ok, so this is my FAVORITE vinegar hack. Whether you have homemade apple cider vinegar with the mother or you still have some store bought – you can create an eternal fountain of vinegar.

If your vinegar is in a jar with a small opening, transfer it to one that’s a bit larger. It will help it ferment a bit faster.

Fill the jar with half apple cider vinegar with the mother and the other half with water. Place a small swatch of cloth over the lid with a rubber band, and in about a week or two, you’ll have a full bottle of ACV. It really is that easy!

Additional notes: I keep the bottle just like you see below with the swatch of cloth on top and keep the vinegar constantly going, and my bottle has been going strong since 2017.

basket with homemade apple cider vinegar

other notes:

Your vinegar should be bright and well…. vinegary. If it’s overly sour or moldy, it’s not good.

This same process can also be used to turn old red wine into red wine vinegar, and you can get my tips for that in my post How to Use Up Your Leftovers from Thanksgiving.

Now that you have learned how to make apple cider vinegar and we have answered, “can apple cider vinegar go bad?” you are ready to make your first batch!

Would you try making your own apple cider vinegar?

Join The Conversation

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Thank you for this post. I’ve made ACV this year as well but my vinegar was very weak. I’ve heard that it’s easier to make it with a mother. Do you know how to get the mother?

    1. Hi Rika, I might be a bit late on this, but the mother comes naturally. If you make your own ACV like above, you will have some of the mother. A lot of the store-bought ACV comes with the mother removed, however, and this is probably because it grosses people out to see solids floating around. The mother will look like soft brown particles swirling in the bottom.

  2. This is a great way to use the whole apple. Great guide, thanks a lot.

    First time I have been on your website, but it looks very promising. I have tried to live almost close to “zero waste” myself, but find it very difficult as I live in China at the moment. You literally cannot order something here without producing some sort of trash, which annoys me a lot. I will read through your website and see if I can pick up a thing or two about how to improve myself on this matter.

  3. Interesting! We’ve always given our apple cores to either the worm bin or as a treat for our puppy but this is a great idea. Do you find that the taste is similar to the shop bought kind (if you can remember that far back!)?


    1. I have compared mine to store-bought ACV that my roommate had, and it’s very similar in taste. Basically, the main thing is the acidity level, which you can control based on how long you wait to seal the jar. I generally put the cloth and rubber band back over the ACV after removing the chopped apples and let it sit until it gets pretty acidic before putting an actual lid on.

  4. I saw this and tried kombucha instead of water and honey as a base for mine. I always have extra kombucha and the apple pieces give the vinegar a great flavor.

    1. Amazing recipe !!!But the apples don’t get fully submerged…they keep popping up on the surface n a scum is formed…. How to avoid this…

      1. I have the same problem but I kept submerging them with a wooden spoon for the first week (twice a day) to make sure no mold was there. after that they did become submerged, don’t know what made the difference. I’m getting ready to strain the mix and let it age some more.

  5. Hi there! First time on your blog which seems great!
    It’s easier to dissolve the honey in a drinking glass with a small amount of boiling (or hot) water – I reckon 1/2 – 1/4 of an inch of water. Then just add cold water so it’s not hot enough to kill off yeast spores on the apples.
    And as hygiene is of extreme importance, just scold the drinking glass in boiling water and empty out said water and leave 1/2 – 1/4 of an inch of boiling water.
    And as you said, Kathryn, it’s important to scold or otherwise sterilize everything that comes is contact with the brew 😀

    1. The apples don’t rot as long as they are submerged, but I will admit the smell isn’t the most pleasent lol. I like to leave my jars either outside, in a closet, or in a cabinet. It doesn’t really bother me anymore, so I just do that out of respect for my roommates.

    1. Sometime I leave a couple bigger pieces that don’t fit past the mouth of the jar and have the water level just over the mouth (this will not work with wide-mouth jars, I typically use old spaghetti sauce jars)

  6. Hey! Actually got some value out of it but I’ve some questions?
    Is it important that I put in sugar! If i’m on a sugar detox and wouldn’t have sugar no matter what

    1. Yes, you need sugar for the yeast to feed on. But this also means the sugar is no longer there in the final product, as it is consumed in the reaction to make the vinegar.

  7. I found this extremely helpful.
    Please dear ma’am,
    Can I use any kind of apples?

    Can I use plastic jar or glass jar, I mean, which one is preferable to use?

    Can I use whole apple with peels?

    1. You’ll need to use glass jars! It probably isn’t safe to ferment in plastic ones. I like to use old spaghetti sauce jars when I make mine. You can use whole apples, but be sure to chop them up first. The more surface area, the better.

  8. My vinegar has been sitting two months and still smells like apples plus it’s much thicker than the stuff you buy in the store. What did I do wrong or should I just keep waiting

  9. Hello. Please can you tell me if I could use a silicon cover below the neck of the jar to keep the apples submerged? Or does it need more air? Thanks in advance.

  10. Great advice, I recently replaced white vinegar with ACV to wash both fruits and veggies at home and I must admit that the results are fantastic! I also used to use white vinegar as natural window cleaner but it’s obviously not that natural with the corn in it being GMO. Replaced here with apple cider as well and found out that it cleans just as good, plus the smell is way more pleasant than before.