An apple tree may not seem like the most obvious thing to include in a polytunnel planting scheme. But a dwarf apple tree could be a great addition to a polytunnel. Growing apples inside, under cover, could make it easier to grow them in more exposed locations and can help to protect them from the elements, and from pests that may eat the fruits before you do. Even a small apple tree either in a polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden can provide a significant quantity of fresh fruit. But the fruit is not only good for eating fresh from the tree. Apples can also be processed to make a range of useful products for your home. Apple cider vinegar is one such product.
Apple cider vinegar is relatively easy to make. It is healthy and can add a delicious element to a range of recipes. It can also find a range of other uses around your home. Read on to discover how to make apple cider vinegar with your home-grown apples.
Making Apple Cider Vinegar
You will need: a jar or jars, apples or apple cores, some cloth (or paper towels) and elastic bands or twine to cover and secure the tops of the jars, water, and sugar.
Sterilise a wide-mouth jar by placing it in the oven at around 120 degrees.
While the jar is sterilised, gather apple cores or chop apples (with peel included) and get everything ready to go.
Place apple pieces or cores into the sterilised jars.
Stir a few tsp of sugar into water and make sure it is fully dissolved.
Pour the sugar water into the jars, and top up each jar with water to cover all the apple.
Cover the jars with cloth or paper and secure with bands or twine this will keep out nasties while still allowing beneficial bacteria to enter and make the vinegar.
Keep jars in a warm, dark place for 2-4 weeks.
Check for dark, bad moulds (you should have a white scum).
Remove apple pieces and strain the liquid back into the same jars, recover.
Store, as before, for a further 4-8 weeks. Stir every few days.
From around the 4 week mark, begin to taste vinegar and when it reaches an acidity and flavour you like, transfer it to a bottle with a lid and begin to use it.
If you grow apples in your garden or polytunnel, then making apple cider vinegar is just one way to make full use of this versatile and incredibly useful crop. Have you grown apples in your polytunnel? Have you make your own apple cider vinegar? Let us know how you have fared by leaving a comment below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.