Vinegar as valued-added Income
July 27, 2013 08:35AM
In the "Biological Transition" thread, Tim asked the question:

"Michelle and Chris, have you considered hard cider or vinegar as a secondary or primary source on income? I know most "other side" folks like to imbibe once in awhile, like me".

Tim, we do process second grade fruit into pasteurized apple juice, cider vinegar and sun dried apple . We do make some cider for ourselves and friends, but not for sale. We find the real profit is in growing blemish free perfect apples for the fresh market, but apple juice, vinegar and dried apple is a great thing to do with the fruit that is not up to standard. That way nothing is wasted.
Some years with some varieties we achieve over 90% first grade, and sometimes it can be 20% or less.

Kalangadoo Orchard
On the “other side” in South Australia



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/03/2013 10:30PM by Michael Phillips.
Re: Hard Cider/Vinegar as valued-added Income
August 26, 2013 10:29AM
Could you guys talk alittle about your vinegar process. I think you are far enough away so we wouldn't be competitors...

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Hard Cider/Vinegar as valued-added Income
August 29, 2013 08:50PM
I also would appreciate learning about your cider vinegar process. it used to be easy as pie... and now it takes longer... just leaving cider in a bucket and adding mother from the year before. is there a temperature that works best? Any other conditions that benefit it? Thanks, Robbie

Morninglory Farm
Zone 3b* in Ontario
Re: Hard Cider/Vinegar as valued-added Income
August 30, 2013 09:12AM
This is not a direct answer to Robbie's question but perhaps the "flip side". The difficulty is not so much promoting the process, but rather, avoiding it. If you are making hard cider, and want to keep it as hard cider, you may be wise to keep the vinegar making as far away from the cider making as possible, in order to reduce the likelihood of infecting your cider with Acetobacter. And, for the same reason, equipment for the one should be kept separate from the other.

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: Hard Cider/Vinegar as valued-added Income
September 02, 2013 07:31PM
We should start by saying we are only "learners" when it comes to making cider vinegar. We're sure that there will be people out there reading this thread that know a lot more about making cider vinegar than we do, and we would love to hear what they have to say. But here is what we do.....

We believe even in a crowded market, there is always room for the best. So working backwards, we think that to make a good vinegar, you need to have a good cider. And to make a good cider, you need good apples.

We don't use sulphides to kill the wild yeasts, because some people (including one of us!) are allergic to sulphides. For this reason, we use fully-mature fruit straight from the tree and do not use any over-ripe or rotten or windfall fruit. We use a vigorous white wine yeast to overpower any wild yeasts that are certainly present.

We suspect that just as there are many different strains of yeasts that will ferment juice to cider, there are many strains of Acetobacter that will convert cider to cider vinegar. And some may result in "off" flavours in the final product. So it is safer to inoculate with a proven "mother of vinegar", rather than relying on the vinegar flies to introduce a random strain.

Will post more details tonight, plus our flow chart for making vinegar.

Kalangadoo Orchard
On the “other side” in South Australia



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/02/2013 08:15PM by Michelle & Chris McColl.
Re: Hard Cider/Vinegar as valued-added Income
September 02, 2013 10:16PM
Thanks for sharing the info.... I look forward to hearing more from other vinegar crafters.
We do keep the vinegar batches separate from the hard cider... successfully so far!
Pear cider vinegar is also an item we make. Lots to learn also about marketing said product.
And how to decide which pear varieties to choose for the vinegar.....
and similarly, how to figure what makes a good cider and a good vinegar? Sugar content? Tannin content?
a sour variety? a sweet one?

Morninglory Farm
Zone 3b* in Ontario
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
September 10, 2013 11:59PM
For my part, I like to do the vinegar from summer or early season apples - the reasoning is that those apples usually have too much acidity to make a good cider, but this acidity is perfectly OK in vinegar. Also, these apples contain less sugar than late high flavor apples: a summer apple cider may reach 5% ABV which will transform in 5% acetic acid, which is fine for vinegar. On the other hand, a cider made from high sugar late season apples may reach 8%ABV, and once transformed into vinegar you might get 8% acetic acid which is more than necessary - you might have to dilute it.

So I don't entirely agree with Michelle and Chris when they say:
Quote

So working backwards, we think that to make a good vinegar, you need to have a good cider. And to make a good cider, you need good apples.
Yes you need good quality apples, but the criteria for a good cider aren't the same as for a good vinegar. The whole question of acidity balance which is so important for cider quality isn't relevant anymore for vinegar. Also, high tannin apples that may give a lot of quality to a cider will not really add quality to your vinegar.

Claude

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
September 11, 2013 09:14AM
Claude that is better news, as early season apples really pose a problem for us since we are heading full steam for cider making. I have been cutting the sweet later varieties with the earlies that keep in the cooler that long, but we lose a lot. The ideas Michelle and Chris mention is echoed in a lot of writing, ie good cider from higher brix apples, but again we are looking at a no waste system and an outlet for lower quality fruit is key. Looks like it is headed for a vinegar contest here at the farm, I am going to try both attacks and see what pans out. For us homesteady folks vinegar is an awesome vehicle for preservation, in addition to any health benefits (not to mention a good cleaner) so this discussion I really think is a good one.
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
October 01, 2013 05:41PM
It would be great to hear a general process on how to make apple cider vinegar, i'm sure everyone will personalize it in a different way.


Fabio

Westwind Orchard
Zone 5b in New York
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
October 01, 2013 06:02PM
Quote
Fabio wrote:
It would be great to hear a general process on how to make apple cider vinegar
Fabio,
Basically, you ferment apple juice until you get cider. Then leave this cider in a container where air may get in contact with the liquid, but do put some cloth on the opening to limit the quantity of fruit flies that will get to it. What I use is a 5-gallon glass carboy, filled to about 2/3 to 3/4, so there is a good area of air contact. I leave it in a location at room temperature - colder temperatures will slow the transformation. I also added some pieces of oak wood in the carboy but I don't think this is necessary.

If you want things to go faster, add a small bottle of organic unpasteurized cider vinegar - the vinegar mother will form itself faster.

The mother is a layer of gelatinous material. It forms itself on the top, but sometimes sinks to the bottom.

Be patient, at least 6 months are required... Once you have a good base, you can take a couple of gallons, and add a couple gallons of new cider (hard). Things then go much faster and you won't have to wait as long to be able to take some more vinegar from your jar.

Claude

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
November 28, 2013 06:08PM
What's the best tool(s) for finding out the acid level of vinegar?
thanks
Robbie

Morninglory Farm
Zone 3b* in Ontario
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
November 28, 2013 07:50PM
A titratable acidity kit, designed for wine or cider, will do it.
However, vinegar is much more acidic than wine or cider, hence it works better if the vinegar is diluted 10:1 (or 5:1) with water before testing, and the acidity level is multiplied by 10 (or 5) after the test.
Now, if you want the result expressed as acetic acid, you will have a few transformations to do...
If your titration kit gives the result in malic acid, you will have to multiply by 0.9 to get it in acetic.
If the titration kit gives the result as tartaric acid, you will have to multiply by 0.8 to get it in acetic.

See also my book (which you'll have soon), pages 180-181 for titration and also 295 for acetic acid.

Claude

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
December 05, 2013 06:47AM
We think this vinegar issue is maybe just a question of "horses for courses".

If you are wanting to do something with low quality apples that would otherwise be wasted, and you need some vinegar for home use (i.e. salad dressing, preserving, cleaning, livestock drench, or whatever), then maybe you don't need to be too fussy.

But if you are wanting to make something that tastes really good, and will out-compete established brands in the local health food shops, we think you need to do something extra.

In our limited experience, Pink Lady makes a nice vinegar, but Ribston Pippin vinegar is something else, with a strong and complex flavour.

(When we work out how to do it, will post our vinegar flow chart as promised some time ago).

Kalangadoo Orchard
On the “other side” in South Australia
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
December 05, 2013 12:53PM
Thanks for your continued input, Michelle and Chris. I look forward to your flow chart when you have time for it.
Claude Jolicouer's book just arrived yesterday... I eagerly look forward to the moments of perusing it to learn more about cider and vinegar. Especially pear vinegars.
Your point about competing with established brands on the shelf makes a good point.
Has anyone noticed any real difference in flavour between vinegar straight from juice... and vinegar that's been a hard cider first?
thanks, Robbie

Morninglory Farm
Zone 3b* in Ontario
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
April 28, 2014 05:49PM
We have been making vinegar for 28 years. My opening line when anyone should ask me to speak about value added products is making bad batches of hard cider put us in the vinegar business. Since we were surrounded by wineries and were were having roughly 40 gals of challenged cider, my wife thought of getting a couple of used wine barrels from our neighbors. Luckily they were white wine barrels (harder to find as they are reused by wineries). The wineries around here usually sell used barrels for 25-35 dollars. So we let the air in and when it smelled vinegary we put it in the barrel and thought of letting people fill their own containers. We put the barrel on the edge of the barn deck and sort of forgot about it until harvest time--4 or 5 months. (Somebody saw the barrel on the deck from the road and phoned the building dept. and said we were opening a winery (some neighbors you just can't love) and they made us re-engineer out barn, but I digress). Being a 60's warrior I had read Dr. Jarvis' Vermont Country Folk Medicine (still in print and/or easy to find on Amazon) which over and over extolled the virtues of cider vinegar, which mixed with some local honey would make a tonic that pretty much guaranteed (sp) good health forever or so. I don't know if he talked about aged vinegar or not, but when we went to taste our "aged" stuff we were blown away by the smoothness and flavor. I have a paper that Michael wrote that I thought was from the Apple Grower, but it's a class handout called Real Cider Vinegar where he talks about aged in wood barrel vinegars for 4 years and how that really brings out all the goodness in cider vinegars. By the next year we bought a rack and cloth cider press and started to squeeze batches just for vinegar.
How? We found a big used stainlees tank (350 gals) for pretty cheap that had a loose fitting lid and used that for primary fermentation. We do not put fert locks on it but try to keep bugs out with mosquito netting (I confess some fruit flies do get in every batch) We have only had one tank go bad and luckily it was only at the 100 gallon mark that we had to dump it. Michael's paper says that you make hard cider first, but we had developed "our" method years before we read that. Whew! Once it gets vinegary, 4-6 months, we move into aging barrels (you can use red wine barrels if you soak in proxy-clean for a day or two before adding vinegar--almost all our barrels are red wine ones now) for 1 1/2 years at least before bottling. This aging process, in my opinion is how our vinegar is still the best I've ever had. Would love to try those 4 year olds Michael talks about. We found that when we can't sell it all we cannot tell the difference between 2 yr old and 3 yr old. We get $8.50 for 750 ml and have built quite a fan base now (one guy buys 2-3 cases a year shipped for his daily dose and doesn't tell anyone in case we might run out! I have my own bottle that I nip on 1-2 times a day). You can buy "other" organic vinegars for 10 bucks a gallon.
Ah, which apples? In the early days when 3/4 of our orchard were full grown Golden Delicious we used 2/3 golds with 1/3 pippins or greenings for juice and hard cider (we like things dry..not too sweet). we needed pretty much all the tart apples for that, so the vinegar was mostly all Golds and it tasted great, but we were worried. Now we are in better balance with 80 varieties and several cider apples. On a short crop year I am not adverse to quality windfalls used only for vinegar--following the pickers knockdowns for the week and trying not to put rot in the bin--this can be 500-800 lbs a week. On the big crop years we only use culls from the packing line. The varietal vinegar discussed above is intriguing--It could only happen here if a varietal hard cider was not worth bottling and we made a separate barrel, hmmm? An interesting idea. I have been looking for the time when we can have a vinegar tasting room. Our brix meter and tannin tester here is our tongues--we go through the 1 1/2 year barrels and 3 or 4 of us taste each with our fingers and rate them (same for the hard cider but we don't use our fingers!). The two with the most votes get moved into our double size (puncheon) barrel for bottling. The lessor ones are used to blend with our syrup (see apple molasses and cider jelly thread) to make a balsamic style cider vinegar. We need around 500 gals juice for vinegar, 600 gals for hard cider, and 2000 gals for syrup a year. We squeeze around 450 gals a week as the fruit ripens. And yes early apples make fine vinegar but not very good hard cider. Oh yeah, by the way this is all done in the same 800 sq. ft under the barn--but now that hard cider is so popular and the kids are getting involved--I've been given to understand we will be separating the hard cider operation to another location. I can't tell you how many panicked looking faces I've seen over the years when people see the hard cider fermenting less than 10 ft. from the vinegar barrels. The old fart and his ways is soon to be overuled.

The Apple Farm
Zone 8b in California



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/29/2014 10:03AM by Michael Phillips.
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
April 28, 2014 06:11PM
And two last things--I promise the last. To answer Robbie's question about fresh vs. hard cider...we have in the past put unsold hard cider into their own wood barrels for aging and a year later we could not tell the difference. It did however taste quite a bit better in the early months. I forgot to mention good old mom. We get buckets of mother every year--some times we put some in the big primary barrel and sometimes we forget, either way there is plenty of mom in our aging barrels. Claude is right sometimes it floats and sometimes it sinks and sometimes there are one of each in the barrel-- top and bottom mom (always a surprise when pumping to the next barrel to get clogged up by the bottom mother that you didn't notice). Very tricky to try and get that mother off the top or bottom in one piece. Always a tad of mom in each bottle so you know your purchase is still "alive". YES, vinegar can be good for business.
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
May 16, 2014 02:57PM
We make vinegar at very small scale compared with Tim Bates, but we have made it with many mixes of apple varieties and found that as long as we use the same mother, the vinegar tastes very similar batch to batch. We started by just leaving sweet cider open to the air, and then we propagated the mother we "caught" that we liked the best. It produces a fruity, full bodied vinegar regardless of the apples.

Bear Swamp Orchard
Zone 4b in Massachusetts
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
May 31, 2014 08:09AM
A long time ago Todd asked:
"Could you guys talk a little about your vinegar process. I think you are far enough away so we wouldn't be competitors..."

Since "a picture is worth a thousand words", we thought it best to post here our flow chart for making vinegar. After a few unsuccessful attempts (due to our incompetence in front of computers), we have been forced to go for the thousand word version..............

We use a 1000 litre stainless steel fermentation tank (variable capacity - has a floating lid that can be sealed by pumping up a seal, not unlike a bicycle tube).

To fill tank, press 4 x 400kg bins of apples in "rack and cloth press", pH of juice should be less than 3.3, Brix greater than 13 degrees. (We achieve a 60 to 65% recovery with our press).

When pressing is almost complete, mix 300g of Elegance yeast in 3 litres of water (at 35 to 40 degrees C), leave 15 minutes, then stir. Take 6 litres of juice and mix with the 3 litres of yeast/water (juice temperature must be within 10 degrees C of yeast/water mix to avoid shock). Leave for 15 minutes, then add to 1000 litre tank. (Note we are not adding sulphur to kill the wild yeast - the idea is to add a vigorous yeast as soon as possible to out-compete the wild yeast).

After initial vigorous fermentation, seal tank with air-lock, with temperature in tank somewhere from 15 to 23 degrees C (hopefully).

Decant cider when fermentation is finished, and store in airtight container at 15 degrees C.

Add cider to 225 litre oak barrel containing Acetobacter, somewhere from 25 to 30 degrees C (hopefully). When vinegar is above 5% acetic acid, store in dark, air tight containers. (We are now using the "Orleans process", where a small proportion of vinegar is regularly removed from the barrel and replaced with the same volume of cider to keep the barrel full).

We do face a few issues with the temperature - when pressing in autumn, 15 to 23 degrees for fermentation is easily achievable, as is 25 to 30 degrees for acetobacter activity in summer. But we really struggle to convert cider to vinegar over winter without extra heating.

Hoping this is of some help to some of you. (And once again, in our limited experience, the quality and variety of apples used has a huge bearing on the quality (flavour) of the resulting vinegar!)

Kalangadoo Orchard
On the “other side” in South Australia
Re: Vinegar as valued-added Income
June 27, 2014 07:14AM
Currently in the depths of winter here. Checked the temperature of the cider in the barrel the other day, and it was only 13 degrees (C). So we have just wrapped the 225 litre oak barrel in an electric blanket and covered with insulation, in the hope of making the Mother of Vinegar more comfortable, so she will do her thing.

Kalangadoo Orchard
On the “other side” in South Australia
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