If you harvest your own fruit–any kind of fruit–you know how many leftover skins, seeds, pits, cooked stuff, raw stuff, and all kinds of other things are leftover from processing. So much scrap, from so much good fruit. If you’re anything like me, you may have wondered if there’s anything you can do with it. There is: fruit scrap vinegar.
I first started messing around with fruit scraps in nice restaurants I worked in where we would have all kinds of amazing fruit come in. After the processing, sometimes there would be things leftover, pits, skins, seeds–things I knew had really delicious solutes still hanging out in them, but I didn’t know what to do with. The first thing I started doing was infusing vinegar with spent grape pits and seeds–and it was shocking. The flavor was concentrated, pure, delicious. If you want to know more about that, see my post on fruit-infused vinegar here–it’s a great way to use fruit, especially berries.
This though, this is the older, more mature cousin to the infusion recipe. This is a straight-up, naturally fermented vinegar made from skins, seeds, pits, pulp, and just about anything else you can throw at it. I’ve made it with frozen fruit, dried, rehydrated fruit, fruit juice, skins–all kinds of stuff.
The Secret: Adding Live Vinegar and Grain Alcohol
The basic recipe is a hybrid of two of my favorites: one from the Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, and the other by Rene Redzepi in the Noma Guide to Fermentation. The Sandor Katz recipe is the most basic, and it’s a great introduction–you just take fruit and sugar water, and let it ferment–it takes a long time, but it works. Rene’s recipe hastens the fermentation process by adding live vinegar, along with some grain alcohol to increase ABV, ensuring an acidic result, as if there isn’t enough sugar in the beginning product, you won’t have the amount of alcohol you need to get a good tart, tangy vinegar. That being said, I made the recipe for years before I started adding a bit of vodka to it, so know that it’s optional, and if you don’t have any, it’ll still work just fine.
What kind of fruit makes the best vinegar?
Berries. Well, berries, grapes and plums, at least from my experience. Typically I look for the deepest, darkest fruit I can find, but you can make it with other things, too–the sky is really the limit: pinneaples, mango skins–whatever. I will say that there’s something about a dark fruit vinegar I love though, so generally I use grapes, plums, or other dark colored berries. At the end of the day, you’re the scientist, so use whatever fruit you want and make a fun blend.
Fruit Scrap Vinegar
- 750 grams 3 ¼ cups water
- 172 grams 3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon previous fruit vinegar, or apple cider vinegar with live cultures
- 184 grams 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons 80 proof vodka
- 1 lb 2 packed cups fruit scrap from cooking, juicing, etc
- 50 grams 1/4 cup sugar
- Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart sized container, cover with cheesecloth, and allow to ferment for 2 weeks at room temperature, stirring as often as you can remember (I use a wooden spoon).
- After two weeks, strain the vinegar and allow to continue fermenting, still covered with cloth, until you like the flavor, a month or two.
- When you're pleased with the flavor, and you can't taste any sweetness in the vinegar anymore, put it into jars and seal, then store in a cool dark place.