This week, Contributing Writer Michelle Felt shares step-by-step instructions to transform organic kitchen scraps into nourishing, fermented fruit vinegars. Enjoy!
Fermentation obsession is in full force at our house. For at least the last 4 or 5 months. It started with lactic acid fermented or 'raw' sauerkraut. Which for some reason I still haven't posted about. I feel that's craziness, especially as I opened our 3rd batch of sauerkraut yesterday and started our first batch of pickles last night. The sauerkraut, I've been making in our first ever Harsch crock. Those delicious experiments are for another day.
The idea to make my own pineapple vinegar came about after I referenced the amazing resource, Wild Fermentation by Sandoor Katz. I first checked out this book at the library along with a bazillion other books in order to soak up as much information as I possibly could about home fermentation and specifically lactic-acid fermentation. Lactic-acid or lacto-fermentation is basically what happens when your starches and sugars in your fruits and vegetables start to break down and change to lactic acid. This happens because friendly bacteria (think about the stuff in yogurt) is munching away at the sugars in your fruits/veg. This type of fermentation not only preserves the fruit but also increases its nutritional content (Vitamin C, B12, healthy flora). Very soon, I found that his book, was worthy of gracing my book shelf - it is a wonderful read - giving you inspiration to delve into all things 'fermentable'.
I've done a few posts on how to cut your own pineapple. One with a pineapple corer and the simple knife route. Cutting your own pineapple is way cheaper than buying store bought and now you have a way to use the outer skin too, using all the bits, except the crown, but maybe I can think up something for that. I was working on the corer post when I came across Sandoor's recipe for Pineapple Vinegar. Say what?
I'll be honest I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it, but so far I've used it in a very good smoothie (see below) and I'd also like to use it in a quick salad dressing, so stay tuned.
What you need:
- sharp knife
- cutting board
- skin from one organic pineapple
- a wide-mouthed jar that can hold about 8 cups of water + pineapple
- 1/4 cup sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice sugar)
- water (preferably filtered)
- some cheese cloth or a nut milk bag you won't need to use in the next 3 weeks
Please note, I think the jar I used was cute and it worked, but next time I would like to try one with a wider opening, to allow more air circulation during the fermentation process.
Start by placing 1/4 cup sugar in your jar and adding a little over 4 cups of water (about 1 quart). Swish it around until the sugar is dissolved.
Then cut the pineapple skin into small chunks (I even removed the bit around the crown). Make sure to remove any additional fruit that is along the skin, perfect for noshing on the job. I found it helpful to prop the pineapple strip upright instead of laying it down, it was far easier to cut this way. Places pieces in your jar of sugar water as you go.
Once all the pineapple has been placed in the jar, cut a piece of cheese cloth large enough to cover the opening and down the side of the jar about an inch. The cheese cloth will keep dust and bugs out of your business.
Secure with a rubber band and set in an out of the way place to ferment for the first week at room temperature. After 7-8 days the liquid should darken and that is when you will strain the fruit pieces and continue fermenting the liquid until it turns to vinegar about 3-5 weeks later.
Here's days 1-4 and you can see the liquid darken and the bubbles grow a little more each day!
Strain the fruit pieces using a colander to drain 'vinegar' into a bowl. Discard or compost fruit pieces. Return 'vinegar' to original fermenting container and replace cheese cloth and rubber band. Continue fermenting the liquid another 2-4 weeks; stirring and agitating every once in awhile. Depending on the average temperature of your home this could be 2 weeks if it's warm and humid or 4 weeks if it's between 66-69F (like our house).
Wow and already 4 weeks later (38 days) from straining the fruit, the vinegar is done. The color looks like pineapple juice and I'm pretty sure it has 'mother' just like Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar does. Cool!
Empty into a jar and secure with a lid. I've been storing mine in the refrigerator.
- The smell in the beginning will be 'yeasty', like beer. It's pretty cool. By the end, the vinegar smelled like vinegar and a little bit beer. I think with a wider jar opening and periodic swishing the vinegar smell will be stronger.
- At the end of the 1st week, when I strained the liquid, I did not have mold growing on the fruit, but I imagine if you are in warmer climate this could happen. Just skim it off OR try to keep the jar in a cooler room of your house (about 69F).
- Just like making our sauerkraut in our crock, this was pretty uneventful. I took pictures along the way to help jog my memory and give you an idea of what it will be like but yeah this was on the easy side.
- I know I bolded organic pineapple in the ingredients but it is VERY important to use organic produce when fermenting, especially something like this, where you're soaking fruit skin for a week. You don't want pesticides or nastiness going into you or your ferments. That being said - with all the pesticides used on conventional fruit and veg to prevent them from turning quickly, those same monsters are going to prevent your cabbage or whatever from properly fermenting and prevent the good bacteria from doing its job. You'll end up wasting the 4 weeks of time and produce. Buy organic for these projects.
I look forward to doing this one again or making other fruit scrap vinegar!
Michelle is a graduate of the Raw Gourmet Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, she has recently relocated to Portland, Oregon, where the produce is crazy fresh abundant and the culture is as thick as the Midwest’s humidity. She loves raw foods and advocates for eating with realism and relish. "Approach each eating experience as an opportunity to nourish your body, eating the best you can, in the moment."