Apple Scrap Vinegar – Easy, Inexpensive Home Made Vinegar

Do you hate to waste food?  So do we!  What about those apple peels and cores?   Yes, you can compost them, or feed them to the chickens – but here is one way to get one additional use from them before they go outside!

Save Peels and Cores

It’s best to start with two to four cups. That’s 2-4 for you speed readers.

Maybe you are making an apple pie or an apple cobbler, in which case you might have enough. But if not – just save all your peels and cores in the freezer.

Easily save ’em up in the freezer until you have 4 cups for this recipe.

Save the apple cores you eat too! Don’t worry about bacterial contamination, between the freezing and the acid in the vinegar, you will kill off any “bad” bacteria.

Apples and More

What is great about this recipe is that – it doesn’t have to be apples! This can also work with fruits that are kin to apples – like quince, or pears.

Quince are one of the fruits introduced to our area by Father Kino. They store super well, up to 3 months post harvest even – without a root cellar. (Because really – who has a root cellar in the Southwest?)

Fruits to Not Use

Super sweet fruits don’t make good fruit scrap vinegar. Grapes for example, or raisins (according to the interweb).

Science nerd here – loves to experiment.
savor-southwest-science-geek-shares-informationDates. I did try dates. But dates were too sugary and the yeast that make the vinegar went crazy and the vinegar was bitter.
Tomatoes. Tomato vinegar was okay for cleaning off hard water spots but was not very palatable, had a strange bottom note to it. And I thought it would be great for salads.
Lemons. The yeasty beasties that turn fruit scraps into vinegar were not very happy with this un-sweet fruit. Had to add three times the amount of sugar to give them something to digest. Not an ideal situation.

By the way, these un-tasty vinegars are great for the garden.  Dilute them in water first.  More on Gardening With Soule.

Fruits That Might Work

Pomegranates. I wish I had saved my pomegranate bits after extracting the juice. I bet that would work. Next time.

Filter the prickly pear juice through a nice mesh strainer. Juice below and the fruity seedy bits left in the strainer would be ideal for making vinegar! Have to do this next year.

Prickly pear fruit.  Could work. The idea is to use the scraps after extracting the fruit juice. There is a deal of waste as you may have noticed in this prickly pear post.  Let us know if you try this!  In addition to juice for jelly and drinking, I turn the prickly pear fruit into wine which I still owe you a post about.

So Why Make Vinegar?

Folks have been making vinegar all around the globe for centuries.

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a home remedy for everything from warts, to sunburn, to helping lose weight, to acid reflux, to electrolyte replenishment, and besides it makes a tasty salad dressing.


My reason for making homemade vinegar is because we are trying to live more lightly on this earth. Anytime I can rely less on manufactured products I count it as a win. Think about it – vinegar made, put in glass bottles, labels glued on, caps placed, loaded into boxes, (bottles, glue, paper, caps, boxes, all made somewhere else and shipped to the bottling site), and then the final product shipped across the countryside. So much product transport goes into a simple bottle of vinegar.

Apple Scrap Vinegar Recipe


1 quart (4 cups) of fruit scraps.
1 quart warm water *
1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (optional)

Scraps. Use cores, peels, or even chunks of bruised fruit.  Bruises okay. Moldy spots – not okay. Don’t use any rotten bits.

Water is important!  Make sure to use clean, non-chlorinated water. Many municipalities add chlorine to the city water. This will kill your vinegar yeast. Use filtered water, well water – anything that doesn’t have chlorine and is safe to drink.

Size? You can make larger batches, or smaller ones – just keep the same ratios. If you have too much water and not enough fruit bits (not enough for the yeast to eat), then the mixture might not be acidic enough to stop mold growth.

We’ve got our sugar (or honey) to the left, and 4 cups of scraps going into the jar.


Step 1.

In a 2 quart (half gallon) mason jar or other large, non-reactive container (use glass, food grade plastic, or stainless steel) add your fruit scraps, water, and sugar. You could make this in a large cook pot.

Add raw apple cider vinegar, if desired. This isn’t absolutely needed, but will help jump start the ferment. If you have had mold issues in your ferments before, the added vinegar is a good safeguard.

Step 2.

Stir vigorously, and cover opening with a bandanna or other cloth. savor-the-southwest-vinegar-making
Secure cover with a rubber band or mason jar ring to keep fruit flies out but allow natural yeasts in. Place out of direct sunlight.

Dark space is not critical, but keep this out of direct sunlight. Sunlight kills the yeasty beasties working for you. I use a large bandanna that does a good job of (mostly) covering the jars.

Step 3.

Stir the mixture daily and push the scraps below the liquid.
Keep jar at room temperature (65 to 85F) and stir daily for a week to 10 days.

Initially the smell should start out like apples and some sort of alcoholic beverage (the yeast microbes will produce alcohol before they switch to vinegar), then the acidic vinegar smell will develop.

Be sure to stir daily and get the scraps coated with liquid so they ferment and don’t mold.

Step 4.

At 7 to 10 days, strain out the fruit chunks with a colander and compost them (or give them to the chickens). If you leave them in they break up and make a very mealy vinegar.

Step 5.

Return liquid to your fermenting vessel with the cloth cover and ferment for 2 to 3 more weeks, stirring occasionally. Do not store the vinegar in a tightly sealed container immediately, the yeast are still working = fermenting. Fermentation produces carbon dioxide gas. If you transfer to a closed jar, beware of explosive gas buildup. If you have a fancy fermenting vessel with an airlock, you can use that now – but not earlier.

Sometimes you have sediment. It’s what happens if you wait too long to filter.

Step 6.

After 3 weeks, decant into your vinegar bottle. If the bits of fruit solids and the “mother” yeast bother you, you can put it through a coffee filter. Since we use ours for salad dressings we don’t mind a few solids.

Step 7.

Use your vinegar! Use for cooking, cleaning, critters, health, et cetera.
So many ways to use this awesome homemade product … a topic for another post!

Sometimes your vinegar is darker than others.


Vinegar is moldy fruit?!

No. Mold floating on top of your vinegar should be scooped off and discarded. This is why we stir every day. While technically molds are fungus and yeast are fungus too, letting yeasts loose on something is considered “fermenting” not “getting moldy.”

Okay – so Yeast?

To make homemade vinegar you are catching the wild yeast that surround us. The wild yeast does the fermenting. This mean that you need to have the ferment open to the air. Air, and microscopic yeast spores, but not fruit flies. This is why I recommend covering the jar with a cloth and rubber band. A paper towel held on with a canning ring will also work. Additionally, the cloth allows the ferment to vent carbon dioxide (yeast burps), while still keeping out fruit flies.

Does Vinegar really Need Sugar?

Some recipes for homemade vinegar skip the sugar. I add sugar because it helps to jump start the fermentation process and ensures a nice, strong vinegar.
The sugar is eaten by the wild yeast that turn the fruit into vinegar. You don’t end up with a sweet product.




Homemade apple cider vinegar is not recommended for canning, because the pH will vary from batch to batch. If you wanted to create a homemade vinegar that was safe to use in canning recipes, you’d need a pH of 2.4. You can test pH with a digital pH tester or pH strips.

Using Vinegar – yes, there are some recipes Our Cookbook!

savor-honey-bookMay we suggest our dandy little cookbook?   Christmas is coming 😉

Using Honey in New and Savory Ways offers 36 pages of tips for using honey in your cooking, as well as in all manner of dishes. A steal at only $6!

We hope you will help support some local Southwest folks!
From the review:
“Honey is for more than desserts and this book can help! Using honey in cooking savory dishes helps engage all your taste buds and adds a layer of added flavor to everyday dishes – plus holiday fare.”

Beekeeper?  We offer volume discounts – because if you sell honey in local markets you might want to offer some of these books as well.


© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt – but you must give proper credit to Savor the Southwest.    You must include a link to the original post on this site. No stealing photos.


The authors of this website have researched the edibility of the materials we discuss, however, humans vary in their ability to tolerate different foods, drinks, and herbs. Individuals consuming flowers, plants, animals or derivatives mentioned in this blog do so entirely at their own risk. The authors on this site cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction. In case of doubt please consult your medical practitioner.

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