Making your own apple cider vinegar…

When I started making fruit yeast water bread from apples, I didn’t realise that I was taking the first steps towards making apple cider vinegar, as fermenting apples in water is pretty much all it takes to make your own ACV.

I’ve now made several batches of my own, using 3 different methods, and I can state from my experience that the simplest is the best. Like with all these things, if you search methods and recipes, you will find endless options, some more convoluted than others, some requiring daily stirring, some requiring the addition of uncooked chickpeas and bulgur wheat, and all extolling the virtues of creating a ‘mother’.

This quote is from Wellness Mama: “Apple cider vinegar with the mother is simply unrefined, unpasteurized and unfiltered ACV. The “mother” is a colony of beneficial bacteria, similar to a Kombucha SCOBY, that helps create vinegar through a secondary fermentation process.”

The mother is what makes apple cider vinegar a bit cloudy or murky looking, and what gives it it’s goodness. Not every attempt at making vinegar generates a mother, and the vinegar is still good without it. Creating a mother is the pinnacle in making apple cider vinegar, and what we must all wish to manage, but you haven’t failed if you don’t achieve it. Just making your own vinegar is good fun, and it tastes really good. Mine haven’t been as sharp as mass produced vinegar, they’ve been much more subtle and much more obviously made of apples.

Every batch I’ve made has tasted different, with varying levels acidity, and all different colours. It’s not the easiest stuff to photograph, but this should show what I mean…

These are all apple cider vinegars. The photos below show them in the process of fermenting, you can see how the colour changes. The honey coloured liquid, in the middle above, started off as the cloudy yellow jars on the far right photo below..

So, where to begin to make apple cider vinegar…

You need a clean jar/vessel, water, apples and honey, and some cheesecloth.

*I’ve used organic apples and non organic, and both have worked.

*I’ve used water boiled and cooled, and water from the tap, and both have worked, but our water has very little chlorine in it. If yours has more chlorine, or you’re not sure, then use boiled and cooled water.

*I’ve used standard runny honey and a milder set honey, and both have worked.

Choose your biggest jar or jug to make the most out of your efforts (hence me using two below)

Wash your apples and roughly chop them into chunks, removing the stalk, but keeping the peel and core and seeds.

PLEASE NOTE: you can just use apple peels and cores if you’ve got them leftover from a recipe. It’s a great way to use peelings!

Fill your vessel 2 thirds with apples, top up with water and add a tablespoon of honey. A rule of thumb is to add a tablespoon of honey per litre of water.

Use a clean jar or bowl as a weight to keep the apples under water (between explained in the photos below), cover with cheesecloth/muslin to keep any fruit flies out, and let vapours escape.

Make a note of the date, place the vessel in a dark cupboard and forget about it for 3 weeks…well, not completely. Check it every so often to ensure that there is no mould or fruit flies, and that the fruit remains under water.

*If mould appears it will be green; I had little green fluffy balls appear on a batch when I experimented with pears, and again when I tried using a pomegranate. If mould appears I’m afraid all is lost and you need to discard everything and start again.

*Initially you will see bubbles as the fruit ferments. That’s good. They will eventually settle down.

*It will smell amazing!

After 3 weeks, drain your liquid through clean cheesecloth/muslin and collect it in another clean jar and add another tablespoon of honey.

Discard the apples.

*If you have made vinegar previously and have some left, or you have kept some of your own vinegar mother, you can add a bit of that too.

Cover the jar once again with cheesecloth/muslin, and put it back in the cupboard, and leave it for another 3 weeks.

*If you see white flecks like I have, it’s fine, these could be yeast, or even a growing mother.

*If you see a white thin jelly like layer forming, that is a mother. Don’t disturb it, just let it happen.

After another 3 weeks, give it all a stir and give it a taste. If you like it, start using it, if you want more acidity, or deeper flavour, let it ferment for longer. Store with a lid firmly in place.

Then start playing, like I have…this week I have started an attempt at sweet potato vinegar…

In December, I started a batch of orange vinegar, just oranges, water & honey…and it smelled AMAZING all over Christmas, perfect timing!

This is what’s left from this jar about once it was drained…and it still smells amazing!

I am loving all of my various vinegars, after so much love, and time, I almost don’t want to use them, but that is why I made them after all…:)

I hope this is all helpful and interesting and you feel inspired! Please do let me know if you have feedback or questions.

I am taking my vinegar along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, I hope you can join the co hosts this week, Lily and Judi, and be inspired by everyone’s dishes..

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Roasted persimmons…

I don’t have much imagery for this post, in fact, I can only offer you one photo; but I can elaborate verbally about this dish and hope that I capture your imagination…

Back in December, I came home from Costco with a box of persimmons, like you do, then realised that I was never going to be able to eat them all myself. I rarely eat fruit as it is, so 6 huge persimmons seemed like a mountain of fruit to me. Plus when I tried one, it wasn’t wholly ripe, or tasty. So I tried roasting some; why not, it works for vegetables, I thought it might perk up my persimmons.

And it did. The slices caramelised and sweetened. I tried some with some tahini sauce, a bit of yogurt and some toasted flaked almonds, and it made a perfect sweet treat…probably just a bit too sweet for me, so the yogurt and tahini were perfect ways to tone it down…

Following this experiment, over the festive period I decided to offer this as a dessert choice for my visiting family.

I cut the persimmons into segments, tossed them with a tiny amount of olive oil, then roasted them for 30-40 mins at 200C, moving them around the pan halfway through. Served with yoghurt, they provided a perfect alternative dessert.

The leftovers lasted a couple of days and were just as nice cold, again with yoghurt and another day with my porridge.

I highly recommend roasting your persimmons! I should imagine they are similar to roasted plums or peaches in consistency, and just provide something different 🙂

I shall be sharing this with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Shinta and Diann….it’s been too long since I joined in!

My idea of ‘fast food’…

I don’t eat what is typically called ‘fast food’. I don’t buy or eat any ready made foods, I make everything I eat. I therefore make sure that my fridge contains things that I’ve made, various dishes, sauces, dips, prepared vegetables, cooked grains, at all times, so that I always have choices of my own food readily available. On the very rare occasion that I haven’t got anything immediately and readily available, and I’m hungry and want something NOW, I reach for the eggs…

Eggs cooked in a tomato sauce is my ‘fast food’.

I’ve always got eggs, and I’ve always got a jar of passata (sieved tomatoes), so that becomes my starting point, and then I add whatever takes my fancy from my fridge or kitchen cupboards. This can include any leftover vegetables, as below, any veg that needs using up (like the spinach included above), herbs, spices, chilli sauces, whatever takes my fancy…

And then I make holes in the mix and crack eggs into them and cook them through.

I usually then also add grated or chunks of cheese (as you can see on all three concoctions), sometimes I sprinkle over seeds or nuts, and very quickly, and simply, I’ve got a filling, tasty, healthy, colourful meal….

This can also be a perfect way to top up on protein for a vegetarian like me, particularly after exercise.

If you already make similar dishes, or fancy giving one a go, just grab some passata or tinned tomatoes and start building a sauce; look around your kitchen and take inspiration from what your fridge or cupboards have to offer, and add some texture and flavour and substance; then once you’re happy with it, make wells in the mixture and break eggs into them and cook.

Then, do as I do, and eat it straight from the pan! Perfect!!! That’s your meal right there – fast and fabulous 🙂

All to come…

I never meant for my blog to get so quiet, but that is what has happened this year, even moreso over the last few months…I intend to remedy this in the new year. As those of you who follow me on Instagram will know, there’s no shortage of baking and cooking and creating happening in my kitchen, it’s just bringing some of it to the blog that’s been missing!!

I’ve got new sourdough news to share; I’ve also been experimenting with making my own apple cider vinegar; and of course, lots of tasty healthy vegetarian dishes parade endlessly through my kitchen…and into my tummy 🙂

So I hope you will join me in the new year for more foodbod happenings?

Until then, may I wish you a very Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings, and a very Happy New Year – enjoy!

(And if you need any vegetarian or vegan ideas for guests over the festive season hopefully my little blog here might be of assistance? Feel free to have a look round)

Falafels cooked in a aebelskiver/poffertjes pan..

I’ve made falafels many times before, always oven baked because I could just never bring myself to fry them! I’ve also seen posts from people using a poffertjes pan to cook falafels, and other patties and Indian cutlets, and decided it was time for me to finally treat myself to one.

For me, I remember this type of pan from my childhood for making mini Dutch pancakes ‘poffertjes’, but to you it may be an aebelskiver pan, used for making similar Danish goodies. It makes total sense to use them for cooking falafels or patties on a hob/stove with minimal oil. You can see below the tiny drops of oil in each hollow which proved to be a perfect amount…

I used it for the first time today for falafels and I will definitely use it again for these and other concoctions. 

The recipe I’m sharing below is a pretty standard falafel recipe, it is simple to play with it and create your own versions however. Today I threw together chickpeas, spring onions, garlic, dried herbs, spices, chickpea flour and lemon juice and it worked a treat! I got in there with my hands and started making little balls of mix which I flattened slightly in preparation to cook them. 

I have to tell you – I didn’t weigh or measure anything and I produced the perfect number of patties for the pan by pure luck….or sheer fluke!!!

Ingredients

250g dried chickpeas, placed in a large bowl of water and soaked overnight
1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cayenne pepper (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Flour of your choice as needed – I used chickpea flour, but it can be any flour 
Some people also add half a teaspoon of baking powder, I didn’t this time


Method

Wash and drain the chickpeas
Put everything EXCEPT the flour in a blender and chop to a chunky crumb, then put it all into a large bowl
Add enough flour to bring the mixture together in your hands, then create small balls of the mix and flatten them slightly to make the falafel shape 
Put your poffertjes pan over a low/medium heat and place a small amount of oil in each dip and allow it to heat up briefly
Place a falafel in each dip and cook for about 15 minutes depending on the size and the heat your using, I kept checking mine and moving the pan around as it doesn’t sit evenly over the gas on the hob/stove 

I served mine on freshly made homous as is traditional, I highly recommend it! 

I’m taking my falafels to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls and Antonia

Uses for spice mixes…

Picture the scene: you’ve got a selection of spices mixes in your cupboard that you’ve made or bought for a particular recipe and never used again…or someone has bought you a great set of spice mixes from the lovely people at Spice Kitchen, for example, and you don’t know what to do with them, here’s some ideas for you. In fact, this is why I love making spice mixes because you can use them so easily.

Whatever the spice mix, whatever the origin, these ideas will work with whatever you’ve got to hand..

An easy dip

Stir a teaspoon of any spice mix into a small bowlful of natural yoghurt, ideally Greek yoghurt, or a mix of half yoghurt/half mayonnaise. Allow at least an hour for the flavour and colour to develop before serving. Stir again before serving. 

Pimp your homous:

Add a teaspoon of any spice mix to a pot of shop bought homous, or a small bowl of homemade homous. Allow at least an hour for the flavour and colour to develop before serving, it will be even better the next day. Stir again before serving. I particularly like using my Moroccan spice mix or harissa spice to do this. 

Eggs:

Sprinkle a pinch of spice mix over cooked eggs prior to eating.

Stir half a teaspoon of spice mix into scrambled eggs or an egg mixture prior to making an omelette. Try a Mexican spice mix for starters. 

Eggs and tomato sauce in one!

Tomato sauce:

Make an easy tomato sauce and add any of the spice mixes as it cooks.

Soups:

Add a teaspoon of the spice mix to any premade soup, or add several teaspoons to your own homemade soups as you cook the base ingredients.

I’ve made a lot of soups recently, for example, this soup above is made of olive oil, onions, garlic, carrots, water and baharat spice mix. I’ve made similar in the past with Mexican and Indian spice mixes. 

Whereas this soup is made with cauliflower and a Japanese curry powder. 

Roasted chickpeas:

Drain a can or jar of chickpeas and toss with a tablespoon of oil and a couple of teaspoons of spice mix and roast in a single layer at 180C until the chickpeas look roasted and tasty, and before they start exploding in your oven.


Roasted nuts
:

Pretty much the same as above, more details on my post here. 


Rice/grains
:

Stir some spice mix through any cooked rice or grains prior to serving.


Salads
:

Mix a pinch of spice mix with homemade or shop bought salad dressing, or just sprinkle some spice mix over a salad just before serving.

Salsas:

Finely chop fresh mixed herbs, garlic, maybe a chilli, with olive oil, lemon juice/your choice of vinegar, and add some spice mix.


For marinading
:

Cut 2 your choice of vegetables or meat into chunks, put them into a plastic bag (preferably one without any holes) in it, add 2 heaped teaspoons of spice mix and shake the bag to mix it round and cover all of the chicken. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, maximum 24 hours before cooking. 

Alternatively, mix a couple of teaspoonfuls of spice mix with a couple of tablespoons of oil and create a paste. Add you choice of veg/meat and thoroughly stir it through the paste. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, maximum 24 hours before cooking. 

Or, add a couple of tablespoons of spice mix to a couple of tablespoonfuls of natural yoghurt, below, and marinade as above. 


These work well if you are then grilling/broiling or barbecuing the vegetables/meat.


Roasting vegetables

Toss prepared vegetables in a drizzle of oil and a couple of teaspoons spice mix and roast until ready. More details here

OR…..throw some spice mix into your bread dough! 

I’m taking my spice mix ideas along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Ginger and Suzanne

Moroccan spiced carrots, chickpeas and spelt…

It’s no secret that I love autumn, I love everything about it: the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colours, the changing leaves, the abundance of root vegetables…I didn’t mean to make something that almost epitomises autumn in a bowl, but that’s how it ended up! Maybe it’s just in my soul?!

In the beginning it was going to be a soup, but I can’t always bring myself to blend up the vegetables, they look too good whole, so this morphed into something else, not really a stew because it’s not very liquid, maybe a warm salad, or just as the title of the post says: ‘Moroccan spiced carrots, chickpeas and spelt’. I just kept adding things until I thought it was perfect!

I didn’t measure anything but I do remember how I made it so hopefully I can still share the process and it might be interesting…

In a large saucepan I heated some coconut oil, and added some chopped red onions over a medium heat; after several minutes and once the onions looked liked they were starting to brown, I added chopped garlic, cooked for a minute, then added liberal amounts of a Moroccan spice mix that I made previously. 

Again I cooked this for no more than a minute then added water to stop the spices from burning. I then added a great pile of peeled and chopped carrots, topped up the water until it covered them, added salt and pepper, then brought it to the boil. As the carrots cooked, I added some spelt, then later some chickpeas and chunks of butternut squash that I’d already roasted, chopped coriander (leaves and stalks) and finally some dried barberries for the colour and little surprise shots of their tart sweetness. 

And pretty much left it to bubble away until the carrots were cooked, but not mushy, and the spelt was cooked, adding water when necessary. 

Eating some with some tahini, as I did when it was just made above, you can still see the lovely colours of the individual ingredients. 

By the next day, the flavour had developed even more but the colours had all merged together and become one autumnal palette..

It’s the kind of dish that just gets better and better, and one I’ll be making again and again, and no doubt evolving as I do!

Happy Autumn everyone 🙂