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Apple Cider Vinegar to Four Thieves Vinegar (Vinegar de Marseille)

Each autumn we pick apples and then supplement that picking from our own trees by going to a local orchard. I use some of the apples as chicken treats, bake pies, make apple desserts, etc. The waste (skins, cores) product as well as apples that are in “seconds” condition become the base for my health tonic, Four Thieves Vinegar. Organic apple cider vinegar is expensive and in the quantities we go through, it would be cost prohibitive for our use as well as anything commercial. I also like to control the quality and acidity level of the vinegar so it make sense to make our own.

It is a process, however, it isn’t a difficult one with the right equipment. Once I peel and cut up the apples, the skins and cores and any other bits and pieces go into a fermentation crock. These are specifically for fermentation as they have tops that can be water sealed. I make an annual trip to Ohio Stoneware near Zanesville, OH ( My husband believes I have a crockery addiction, but that is ridiculous, I can quit anytime!

Anyway, back to the vinegar. I won’t reveal my Four Thieves Recipe as it is a 17th century French one that I guard carefully, but here is the process of making the base vinegar.

Once the apples are processed, I take the apples that are in “seconds” condition and I run them through my Breville juicer to create a sort of cider as we do not have an apple press (yet). That juice is added to the apples and then water to fill to capacity. I then add champagne yeast and a bit of sugar. I then weight the apples down in the crock with weights, cover and seal the tops with water in the moat. I ferment for 4-6 weeks, adding sugar and a bit of yeast until I get the desired strength. I then strain the apples and clean the crocks, then refill them with the resulting vinegar and allow them to sit for another two weeks until all fermentation has finished and I have a shelf stable product.

Once the fermentation is complete, I add the proprietary blend of botanicals and the process of infusion begins. I usually leave the botanicals in the vinegar for about a month, then triple strain and bottle the mixture.

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