apple cider vinger

Apple Cider Vinegar Made from Scraps of Home Made Apple Sauce.

Apple sauce, apple butter, apple jelly and apple cider vinegar are things I try to make for my family every fall. I try very hard to forage my apples to use in these recipes. I hate to see one of my friends let a tree full of healthy organic apples go to waste. So every summer I start looking around at who has apples that they do not use and try to remember to ask them if I can have them. This summer I was a little unsure of where I was going to get my apples. We moved and I did know to many people who had apple trees in our new area. I remembered a huge apple tree at my favorite public library. Why not ask the librarian of the Lewis Bennett Library  what they were going to do with some of the apples…. it couldn’t hurt to ask right?

So after asking the  head Librarian Karen about the apples, she said no one had asked for the apples and most of the time the apples just fell and made a huge mess on the library side-walk. She let me have as many of the apples as I wanted. The tree is well over 100 years old and they do nothing to maintain the tree so they are again chemical free, of unknown species and cost me nothing, a perfect fit for my foraging personality.

front of Louis Bennett Library

front of Louis Bennett Library the tree is in the right of this photo three stories tall and full of apples

So after a couple of hours with my apple picker in the yard of this historical mansion I had filled my buckets with about 70 pounds of a soft yellow-green apples.

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

Most people call these deer apples and never plan to use them at home but let the deer enjoy them.Today I was able to make 6 quarts of apple sauce from 8 pounds of these little apples.( I have a DIY post about how to make  Home Made Apple Sauce here) They made a very nice sweet apple sauce so I am guessing they are a golden delicious type of apple developed in Clay County West Virginia around the time the house was built.

Quarts of home made cinnamon apple sauce

Quarts of home-made cinnamon apple sauce

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

To make Apple Cider Vinegar I took the peals and cores from these apples and split them between two gallon containers. I left enough room at the top to let water stand over the top of the cores and peals. The apples will begin to ferment under the water’s surface but Some mold may grow if a peal is sticking up to high.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Next I added 2 and 1/2 quarts of warm water that I had added 2 1/2 heaping tables spoons of white sugar to each jar. Making a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to water. The sugar helps feed the Bactria to get a good start to the fermentation. It also adds a sweetness to the vinegar. I use most of my vinegar for cooking so I want a strong apple flavor without much sweetness. If I was drinking this everyday I would add more sugar to make to flavor more drinkable. One recipe I read had 1/2 cup of sugar per gallon. It is not necessary to use this much sugar, apples ferment quickly! Apples have a lot of  natural sugars and yeasts that ferment so well it is hard to stop raw apple juice from turning to wine and vinegar in a matter of days with out a chemical to stop the fermentation. Believe me no sugar is really needed to ferment apples, we have had a few drunk cows on the farm from eating rotten apples in the pasture,what a funny sight !

Quart jar and sugar bowel

Quart jar and sugar bowel

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

Here I am trying to keep the apples under the water surface with a small bowel to prevent mold or scum from growing around the top of the jar. I then cover the jars with cloth to prevent bugs or dust from getting into the jars. I store my jars in our laundry room. Where the temp in the summer is more constant much like a cellar. It never freezes but is never as hot as the house on a hot summer day. The best fermentation happens between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Now I wait two weeks to strain out the apple cores and peels. The fermentation will actually take several weeks and the smell of vinegar will increase as the amount of sugar decreases. At about 4 weeks the sugar should be eaten up by the bacteria that converts the sugar to alcohol than into vinegar. At this time you can filter the vinegar to make it look clear or rack it just like wine. I will filter mine with cheese cloth just to remove the large pieces of apple and return the vinegar back to the shelf for two more weeks to make sure that all the fermentation is finished at 6 weeks. If by chance you notice that the apple cider vinegar has a slimy pad floating in it (smile really big)… you have grown a “Mother” or “Scoby” that should be removed and  stored to make the next batch of ACV ( apple cider vinegar) and reduce the time for fermentation to about 4 weeks on another batch.

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

The raw ACV can at this point be bottled and kept in the refrigerator and it will be good up to 1 year. My family goes through about 1 gallon in a year so this is the amount I try to make. If you want to keep it on the shelf for easy storage then the you need to cook and bottle the ACV. The cooking process does two things. It will kill the good Bactria growing in the ACV ( pasteurizing the ACV)  but will also stabilizes it so that you can store it almost indefinitely. ACV is processed like any other canned food with sterile bottles or jars and correct processing times.

So if you are a fan of raw apple cider vinegar you can make this for pennies. I think the most expensive part would be to get containers. Most families do not use as much vinegar as we do so with just an old spaghetti sauce jar ( 1 quart size) and 3 apples you could make enough ACV for at least 6 months. It is just another way to make some thing from free healthy foraged food.

So when I finally get the 18 quarts of apple sauce finished, the 8 pints of apple butter, the 10 jelly pints of apple jelly, and the gallon of apple cider vinegar finished in 6 weeks, I will feel like I stocked my pantry well from these free ugly old deer apples that no one wanted! Here at links to my post on Slow Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Jelly they are also made with free apples and made much like this with a two for one process.

Categories: apple butter, apple cider vinger, apple sauce, Apples, fermentation, Foraging, Lewis Bennett Library, organic food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mountain Mamas favorite family gathering food, Pulled Pork.

Being that West Virginia is south of the Mason Dixon Line our people are traditionally thought of a southern. If you hear my older son, his wife and Grand Mother speak you know you have left the north and headed into Pork Country. Pulled Pork is a favorite of all Southern Families and our’s too. Some smoke it and put in on a grill, some roast it low and slow, and some like me bake it. Any food that you can cook a meal for at least 6 people and put in the oven and forget about for 4 to 5  hours is perfect in my opinion. When we know we will have a large group for lunch or dinner I pull this recipe out, it is Paula Dean classic with my own twists. All you need from here is side dishes and some sweet tea.

finished pork shoulder roast.

finished pork shoulder roast.

Pulled pork is one of the easiest things in the world to make as long as you purchase good meat. I use a Smithfield pork shoulder roast with a nice amount of fat. This is why last week I made that long trip to the I.G. A. store.  This roast was 8 pounds when I brought it home, but for a family of 4 adults and 2 children, 4 pounds is just about perfect so I cut the roast in half and put the remainder in the freezer.

Our pulled pork is a combination of dry rub and apple flavorings. I love the combination of sweet apple with the hot tang of the rub spices slowly braised into the roast.

I start with a 4 pound pork roast, placed into a dutch oven and cover it with a dry rub.I often times I use a store-bought rub so that I can save some money on spices I may not have at home. But in case you have them I use black pepper, garlic powder, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, smoky paprika, and salt. I cover the roast and let it set about an hour in the morning.

pork shoulder with rub resting for an hour

pork shoulder with rub resting for an hour

After resting I add  3/4 cup of brown sugar to the rub making a sweet spicy glaze. To the dutch oven I also add  one cup of apple cider vinegar and 2 cup apple juice or apple cider. For cooking I find that the juice seems to have a deeper flavor when cooked but we always seem to have apple cider in the house for drinking so I use it most of the time.

apple cider and apple cider vinegar added to dutch oven

apple cider and apple cider vinegar added to dutch oven

Then top the roast with a nice amount of Salt and Pepper. Put the lid on and bake on 300 degrees for at least 4 hours if you can get 5 hours even better. The meat is tender and will fall apart in the dutch oven and is very hot. Let the roast rest for 15 minutes and then remove to serving platter or large tray.

finished pork shoulder roast.

finished pork shoulder roast.

The roast is sliced ( if that is possible) and served in broth or “pulled” at this point. Traditionally pulled pork should be so tender the you can pull it apart with two forks. In most cases this is true, but I remember that I have cooked a large layer of fat on top of this roast and a healthy size bone and both need removed before the pulling can begin. I usually use a number of tools to get the shredded meat free from most of the fat and bone. Most often this means burnt fingers and a large serving fork.

After finishing up some side dishes depending on who is here for dinner we make two plates of pork. One that is plain with only the natural juices from cooking ( this one is for the husband). Then one that I mix with our families favorite BB-Q sauce ( Sweet Baby Ray’s ). The sauce is not to sweet and thick, perfect for pulled pork sandwiches that the kids love.

Sweet Baby Rays BB-Q sauce

Sweet Baby Rays BB-Q sauce

On a cold winter night with a couple of side dishes Tom,The Kids and I have a nice meal. Not hard to make and you can add all kinds of toppings to your pulled pork sandwiches. Here in West Virginia you would add coleslaw, out west  you would add cheddar cheese, farther down south you may see grilled onions / pickles. What ever you add it is wonderful and feeds a crowd of hungry people with little effort. So think of this the next time you have a party to go to. Bring pulled pork, buns and sauce and you will be the one with all the complements at the end of the night.

Pulled Pork off the bun

Pulled Pork off the bun

 

Categories: apple cider vinger, BB-Q, Pork | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pickled Eggs with Garden Beets a Colorful way to Serve farm Eggs.

As with almost all pickles, pickled eggs were a safe and easy way to store food without refrigeration. Using simple ingredients like water, sugar and cider vinegar people could save their extra eggs from the summer and eat them when the long winter depleted families stores of meat and poultry. I have read that it was the Amish that added their wonderful pickled beets to the eggs to add color and a spicy twist. The tradition is very popular in West Virginia  where the eggs are found everywhere from the grocery store to road side restaurants. We are so luck to have  many of the Amish traditions passed down from their communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

half of pickled egg

half of pickled egg

My family takes the beets from our garden and pickles them in a spicy brine of cider vinegar, sugar, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. We then add the pickled beets to boiled eggs. Adding in a fresh dose of water, sugar and cider vinegar  for a holiday treat. I make these lovely hot pink  eggs at Christmas and Easter every year. Starting about 5 days before the holiday so that the eggs are pink to the edge of the yolk. Letting the eggs soak any longer the brine will toughen the yolk and make it rubbery.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

I take 10 boiled eggs to one quart of pickled beets, either home-made or store-bought, adding them to a gallon non reactive container with a lid. To this mixture I add 1 cup water, 1 cup cider vinegar and 3/4 cup sugar to a sauce pan on the stove and simmer until sugar dissolves. I pour that hot mixture over eggs and beets, mix well, seal with a lid and store 4 to 5 days to get the pink up to the edge of the egg white. The longer the eggs soak the stronger the taste.

Pickled eggs floating in beet brine. in a non reactive container

Pickled eggs floating in beet brine. in a non reactive container

We serve the eggs along with the pickled beets that are in the bottom of the container. The sweet beets are a treat that I can not pass up and the kids love to take a bite into an egg that is not totally pink all the way through and has a bright white stripe inside.

There are many other ways to make pickled eggs some are hot and spicy with hot peppers added, some call for onions and some that are just a cider brine with white eggs. But in our house nothing reminds me of spring as much at hot pink eggs at our Easter table.

Categories: apple cider vinger, beets, beets, canning, Easter, eggs, Preserving | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dandelion Wine Making Preparation Begins part 1

I have several friends who over the years have made their own wine, schnapps , sherry’s and flavored liquors. I just never thought that I would be one of them. About a year ago I realized that I use a lot of wine to cook with. So I decided to make my own for half the cost. I do not regularly drink red wine as I am allergic to something in the tannin’s of the red grapes but love a lighter and sweater white wine with dinner or when out with friends. So why not make home-made wines to drink and cook with. My home-made wines would keep me from getting allergic headache  and would still be pleasant to cook with. West Virginia is also over run with natural wild ingredients  that cost very little to make into a favorable wines.

Bowl of fresh picked and cleaned Elderberries

Bowl of fresh picked and cleaned Elderberries

The idea for making home-made wine deepened this Christmas holiday when a friend shared some of her wonderful apple liquor with us.  When I asked where she bought it I was given a typical Hill Billy response… ” At the getten place”. Meaning that she was not telling me who or where the wonderful “hooch” coming from. Years of moon shining  and prohibition in these mountains still make folks around here suspicious of sharing this kind of information.When I asked if their was more for sale I just got a laugh and a ” Maybe”… meaning if I had enough money I might be able to get some but mostly I should just enjoy the evening and forget about getting my hands on this hand-made treasure.  This just sparked the fire and the thoughts began, “I can make this, I am sure I can do this”!

After talking with several people I have compiled at list of what a  beginner wine maker needs and what is just handy to have to make two simple wines over the course of the summer. I will include this list at the bottom of this post. The two wines I hope to make are Dandelion wine with out a grape base and Elderberry wine.  I see no reason to make myself sick so I will not use grapes in these two versions. I also will make about 5 gallons of Apple cider vinegar with the same ingredients and containers. I also find that using fresh and  free ingredients makes this project cost-effective. This project should only cost a dollar or two a bottle when done with an end result of 10 gallons of wine and 5 gallons of vinegar.

I also recommend reading about fermentation and what you can achieved just in your own kitchen. I have found vast amounts of help through reading and on the internet that will help me as I progress through this new adventure.

me with experimental wine bottle

me with experimental wine bottle

This is  a photo of all the basic equipment is all I need to start a small batch of home-made wine.

basic supplies for small batch home wine making

basic supplies for small batch home wine making

In this photo I have two five gallon buckets, a five gallon carboy with filtered water, 10 feet of 3/8 inside diameter vinyl  hose, One universal stopper for carboy with hole for air lock, air lock, 3 packages of yeast, 12 bottles with screw tops.  The three other items that you may want to add to your list that I still need to pick up sometime in a future shopping trip are.

potassium -sorbate to stop fermentation

potassium -sorbate to stop fermentation

This additive stops fermentation so you can add sweeteners if the wine is to dry.

these tablets are added to preserve the wine and prevent bacteria growth to keep wine from turning to vineger

Campden tablets

The Campden tablets prevent wild yeast and bacteria from growing in the wine. This will stop mold growth and wine from turning to vinegar. A must have if you are making hard apple cider and many grape wines with low acid content.

Hydrometer and tube

Hydrometer and tube

Then lastly a Hydrometer to measure the alcohol/ sugar content of the wine so you have enough sugar for fermentation and to track of the amount of finished alcohol per batch.

With all of this new never used equipment I would say I have about 100 dollars in everything inculding shipping. Some of these things we got local and some we ordered on-line. I am making one more trip to a local store in the next couple of weeks to get the campden tablets and hydrometer for the dandelion wine. The potassium-sorbate I will not need until I make the Elderberry wine later in the summer, it will needed when I add additional sweeteners and I hope to use organic honey for my sweetener.dandelionwine

I am still learning and with friends from a local winery maybe I can skip some of the most common made mistakes and share them here with all of you. So tomorrow I head over to Lambert’s vintage wines to get some first hand tips and recommendations from a family that started their vineyard in their kitchen a decade ago and now have a thriving business. I hope  to share some of the beautiful photos from their winery and interview one of the owners. Maybe by the fall I will have a well stocked shelf of home make wines like these and some custom labels to go one them.

Categories: apple cider vinger, Apples, Elderberry, fermentation, Foraging, home brewing, organic drinks, organic foods, wine, wine, winery tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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