How to Make Free Apple Scrap Vinegar

Jump to Recipe
Updated 09/24/22

In my home, homemade vinegar has been the Holy Grail of scratch cooking. My daughter MK tried a few years ago and came very close, but flies invaded her apple scraps and ruined it. It sure smelled great though as I tossed it onto the compost. I have tried making vinegar a couple of times, but had no idea how to do it, so just guessed and failed.

In my fermentation bible, The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz tantalizingly mentions that you can make scrap vinegar from fruit used to flavor mead—if any sweetness remains—but I couldn’t find any instructions in there on how to actually make the vinegar 🙁

I can buy many foods in bulk near me, but not vinegar. I love to make as many staples as I can. It makes me more self-sufficient and reduces my dependency on Big Food. But vinegar seemed hopeless.

Then I stumbled upon the wonderful blog, Kitchen Counter Culture. Finally! I found instructions for making scrap vinegar. I’ve made it a few times now and am thrilled with the results. It takes very little effort, costs nothing and yields several bottles of vinegar. I’ve only used apples to date, but you can use other fruit scraps as well, such as pineapple.

apple crumble plus apple scraps and peels sit on a wooden cutting board
Scrap vinegar provides a good excuse to bake apple crumble or pie 😉


  • Peels and cores from 6 large apples
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Enough water to cover the apple scraps (about 6 cups)

“But I don’t have six apples!” you may say. You can freeze peels and cores, squirreling them away in the freezer until you have a large enough pile to make scrap vinegar. I do this often. Heat will kill the microbes but cold just puts them to sleep.

I sort of hate to give exact measurements for fermentations. Think of these measurements as rough guidelines. Fermentation is pretty foolproof. The bacteria present on the apples perform the fermentation and the sugar—both the added and the sugar in the fruit—fuels the process. You can add more sugar if you like, but mine turned out with just a little bit. If you want to kickstart your fermentation with a bit of whey or raw cider vinegar, you can do that also, but you don’t need to.

If your tap water contains lots of chlorine, before starting this, pour some water into a vessel and leave it open to the air for many hours, or even a day. The chlorine, which can kill the naturally occurring microbes that perform the fermentation, will simply dissipate.


scrap vinegar started
You actually want to leave this open, covered with a thin cloth and exposed to the air

1. Combine apple scraps, water and sugar in a large, wide-mouth glass or ceramic vessel and stir. Cover with a thin cloth. With most ferments, you don’t want air to come into contact with your food. For vinegar, you do. Also, especially with fruit and sugary fermentations, explosions are a real possibility. Pressure builds up in a closed container while the bacteria create carbon dioxide as a byproduct of fermentation. If you choose to close your vessel, in the next step, you will open it several times a day to stir and this opening will also release built-up CO2. Just always remember this step every day.

day 7 bubbly
Day 7 of fermentation

2. Over the next several days, stir your fermentation several times a day when you think of it. Stirring aerates your ferment, encouraging microbial activity and helping prevent mold formation. I drink too much tea, and stir every time I go into the kitchen to brew another cup. After a few days, your concoction should start to bubble and smell slightly alcoholic. I took the above picture on day 7.

3. Once the ferment starts bubbling, I stir it less often—once a day. Ordinarily, when you ferment anything alcoholic, the last thing you want to attract are Acetobacter bacteria, which turn alcohol into vinegar when you expose your ferment to oxygen. Here, you want exactly that result. For this reason, a wide mouth vessel that exposes the surface area to the air works best. Fermentation times vary, but your vinegar will likely start to taste sour after about a week.

no bubbles
No bubbling
Strain through a cloth-lined colander set over a bowl
Squeeze out as much liquid as possible

4. Strain the fruit. Wait until the bubbling has subsided (about two weeks) to strain. Sally Fallon strains her pineapple vinegar after a mere three days BUT she adds whey, which contains microbes that kickstart the fermentation. At the point of straining, the fruit will have no flavor. Compost the spent scraps.

bottled vinegar

5. Bottle your vinegar if you detect zero fizz. Although you may see no evidence of bubbling, and believe the fermentation has ended, this may not be the case. To avoid messes—or worse, explosions—burp your jars regularly (i.e., open them). If you detect no fizziness, try burping them once every month or two just as a precaution. This vinegar keeps for a year (at least).

As the vinegar ages, the acidity will increase. My first batch is nearly one month old and it’s very acidic, but less acidic than cider vinegar. I have found many purposes for it:

  • Soup. I always add a splash of vinegar to soup. It adds a nice tang to chicken broth, and enhances the flavor vegetable broth. The other night I made “trash soup” for dinner (my coworkers warned me not to call it that on my blog, but I really did make soup from practically nothing). In chicken drippings I had saved, I sautéed a quarter of a cabbage that had seen better days. To that I added about 1/2 cup of whey left over from homemade ricotta cheese and about 1/2 cup of scrap vinegar. The resulting chicken-flavored vegetable soup tasted delicious.
  • Lemon juice replacement. I have used my scrap vinegar in a couple of recipes that called for a splash of lemon or lime juice, such as lentil dal or spicy black beans. Tastes great.
  • My hair. I wash my hair with baking soda followed my a cider vinegar rinse (the no poo method). On the weekend, I replaced cider vinegar with my scrap vinegar. The first time I rinsed with scrap vinegar, I used too much, thinking I needed more because of its lower acidity. Well, that was a mistake and my hair looked a bit fried. The next time I washed it, I used less and my hair looked fine. It had a bit of frizz (normal for me), so I rubbed in a minuscule amount of coconut oil. My hair looked great. (My head is like a salad.) I feel I have taken no poo to a whole new level…
  • Cleaning. I have always cleaned my toilet with vinegar. Now I use scrap vinegar. It works well. I have also mixed my scrap vinegar with baking soda to clean the kitchen sink and wash a pot I boiled dry with beans in it (oops).

I haven’t tried salad dressing yet, but I will. I don’t eat much mayonnaise, but I could try substituting this for vinegar in mayonnaise. My daughter adds a bit of vinegar to her pastry crust recipe—another recipe to try…The possibilities are endless. If you enjoy DIY projects, you’ll understand my excitement.

5 from 2 votes

Apple Scrap Vinegar

Use apple peels and scraps to make vinegar
Prep Time5 mins
Active Time14 d
Total Time14 d 5 mins
Course: Condiment
Yield: 6 cups
Cost: $0.20


  • 1 large jar
  • thin cloth to strain the liquid


  • peels and cores from 6 large apples
  • enough water to just cover the apples and cores, about 5 cups
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


  • Remove any broken seeds or seeds poking out of the cores. Combine apple scraps, water and sugar in a large, wide-mouth glass or ceramic vessel and stir. Cover with a thin cloth.
  • Over the next several days, stir your fermentation several times a day when you think of it. After a fews days, your concoction should start to bubble and begin to smell slightly alcoholic.
  • Once the ferment starts bubbling, stir it once a day.
  • Continue to stir daily. Fermentation times vary, but your vinegar will likely start to taste sour after about one more week. At this point you may strain the fruit out and compost the spent scraps.
  • Bottle your vinegar if you detect no carbonation. Although you may see no evidence of bubbling, and believe the fermentation has ended, this may not be the case. To avoid messes—or worse, explosions—burp your stored vinegar occasionally if you see any bubbles whatsoever. This vinegar will keep indefinitely.

203 Replies to “How to Make Free Apple Scrap Vinegar”

  1. Oh man . .. I just stared at my apple scraps from this morning’s pie and after doing a zillion dishes and house chores, I threw them out. Feeling lazy today! Next time: vinegar!!!

    1. Doesn’t sound like you were lazy doing a zillion dishes and chores. I know how you feel though. I’m starting to feel pressure if I have any peels or cores around. I have a ton of vinegar now and don’t need more. So, no more apple crumble for a little while 🙁

      1. I never peel my apples for crumble. I’m going to be freezing the cores until I collect enough for a batch of scrap vinegar.

      2. I’ll have to try crumble with peels. I’ve never made it that way and I imagine it would be just as delicious. I don’t usually have peels either, so I saved up my cores in the freezer until I had enough for my first batch. Great minds!

  2. Thrilling! You inspired me to start some a few weeks ago 🙂 This morning, I am making an apple tart for a birthday party, and got the cores and peels together for another batch. I am so glad that I saw this post as the tart bakes because I forgot to put in the sugar! You saved me 🙂

    1. Yum…apple tart. Lucky birthday party revelers. How is your vinegar coming along? I never thought I would make my own vinegar and I too find it thrilling. It’s hardcore DIY. I’m glad you found the post helpful 🙂

      1. It’s coming along well! I decided the let the second part, where you cover it with cloth, last for 6 weeks so — early December 🙂

      2. After reading your comment, I removed the lids from a couple of bottles and covered them with cloths and will wait several weeks before putting the lids back on. I hope that helps sour them more. Thanks for the idea 🙂

      3. I wound up using this method since it mentioned that it cultivated the mother of vinegar:

        I will then use the mother to start a red wine and white wine vinegar if all goes well! I already seem to see what looks like the mother.

      4. Wow! You’re getting a mother? That’s awesome. Thanks for the link. It’s very similar. I’m making kombucha right now and if I let that ferment long enough/neglect it, I’ll get vinegar. A twitter friend told me she uses her kombucha vinegar for canning. Will you use red wine to make your red wine vinegar? Do you know if it is best to use quality red wine or will the cheap stuff work just as well???

      5. Whenever we have a little wine left over I usually freeze it to use in cooking, so instead I’ll take it and try to make it into vinegar. My husband and I enjoy wine, and usually get a $20 – $30 bottle to enjoy once a month or so, so I’ll probably use something very nice to drink to make my vinegar!

        For my apple scrap vinegar, one batch is honey crisp apple, and another granny smith apple. I can’t wait to see if there is a difference in the flavor of the vinegars.

      6. Cool! Please let me know how all of your experiments go. I think my days of buying vinegar have come to an end 🙂

    2. Hello, thank you for sharing your experience with apple scrap. I have some that’s one week two and it has a white film on top. Not sure if I should toss it out?

      1. Hi Clar,
        That might be kahm yeast, which is harmless but annoying. You may have already tossed your vinegar but if you make it again and kahm yeast forms, scrape off what you can and continue to do so if it reappears. When my vinegar or other liquid develops kahm yeast, I line a seive with thin fabric to strain the apples, kahm yeast and any sediment. Also, stirring the next batch frequently will help prevent it from forming.

  3. You might be interested in a book called “Stillroom Cookery” by Grace Firth. She has a guideline for making vinegar, but suggests using vinegar and/or a mother (if you have one) for making vinegar, not water. She also lets it sit for several months.

    1. Thank you! You are a fountain of knowledge. My library doesn’t have this but I found a good used copy online and have ordered that.

  4. This is awesome!! I can’t wait to try it! I’ve got 2 bags of apples, so now I know what to do with the scraps when I use them!

    1. Great! Thanks for checking it out and let me know how it goes. Happy peeling 🙂

  5. Thank you! I have always wondered how to make vinegar!

    1. You’re welcome. Thank you for checking it out. This differs from cider vinegar (so far, it’s not as strong, but the acidity will increase over time), but it’s so useful. And fun to make.

      1. I am going to make some this week with my apple butter scraps. Thanks!

      2. You’re welcome 🙂

        Mmmm…apple butter. Do you have that recipe on your blog? I’d love to try it.

  6. This is such an awesome idea. I’m definitely going to try it! Thanks
    And love your blog!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 The vinegar is fun, easy and free. Let me know if you have any questions. Happy fermenting.

  7. This is great! My daughter eats at least 2 apples a day so I will be sure to save them. We go through a lot of vinegar so I should really try making my own. Thanks as always for this useful post 🙂

    1. Great! You’ll have lots of scraps for vinegar then. I’m glad you liked the post 🙂 Let me know how it goes and thank you for the comment.

  8. I love this! A home-made staple from the waste-to-resource school of thought. I must try this as I use gallons of apple cider vinegar, like you in cooking, cleaning, on my hair… I think the main challenge will be to amass enough apple scraps as I never peel apples.

  9. U r amazing!!! I’ve really come to love vinegar & we use quite a bit around here. Will add to my wintertime to-do list (it’s there with “homemade butter” and my newly added, “homemade baguettes”).

    1. Thank you 🙂 I still have to try making butter. I’ll add that to my list. How do you make your baguettes? I bet they are delicious. Do you have a baguette pan?

      1. Just got a baguette plan from Le Creuset–holds 3 loaves. Will let you know how it goes. I have big baking plans for the fall/winter!

      2. Ooohh, I love all things Le Creuset. I make my sourdough bread in my Le Creuset Dutch oven. I had a metal baguette pan but I think my daughter took it to school with her. Yes, please let me know how it goes!

  10. Wow, Anne, you always ‘bubble up’ with new ideas! This one is great! I don’t use much vinegar in our Indian recipes, but can use this for other purposes. Thanks a lot, and for visiting my blog too. Hope your daughter is feeling better.

    1. Thanks, Jasmin 🙂 If I could get some ferments into my daughter, she probably wouldn’t be sick but she thinks they’re all “weird.” She will eat fermented pickles I buy at the store though. I hope you had a nice weekend.

  11. The recipe from Sandor Katz for apple scrap vinegar is in his first book, “Wild Fermentation.” I highly recommend it. I like it even better than “The Art of Fermentation.”

    1. Ah, I see. Yes, I should get his first book too. I just love him and would like to read his instructions for this. Thanks so much 🙂

    2. Brenda, would you say more about why you like Wild Fermentation better? I’m contemplating buying one of the books for a gift. Thanks!

  12. Wow, I just started a batch of this yesterday after reading a few other posts online. The main one I saw: had pics of apples at the bottom, but mine were floating. I was worried about mold, but I thought I had to leave it undisturbed. Thanks for the tip about stirring, the ones at the top were starting to darken, but now I think it will work :).

    1. I’m glad you found the tip useful. My apples all float to the top too. I have a hard time keeping them down. I find that’s the most difficult aspect of anything I ferment (and that’s not all that difficult either…). I’d love to try making the cider vinegar in the link you sent. I’ve had only a tiny little mother form on my vinegar. She’s more like a young aunt really. I hope your vinegar turns out 🙂

  13. […] I was going to write about a ginger bug, but now I’m starting Rejuvelac, sauerkraut, and apple cider vinegar as well. Also, I’ve been reading so much online that when I went back to browse Fermentation […]

  14. Reblogged this on Becoming a Minimalist and commented:
    Just what I was looking for!

    1. Thank you so much for the reblog. I’m glad you found the post useful 🙂

  15. A great idea! I’m already saving whatever vegetable scraps I have left over from cooking in the freezer, and every now and then wehen my container is full I make a batch of vegetable broth. Citrus peels go in straight destined vinegar regularly for aromatizing our ‘cleaning vinegar’. Collecting apple scraps for making vinegar? Definitely happening here soon – I’m so curious. Do you think the vessel has to stand inside, in a warmish climate? I’m a bot worried about the whole kitchen smelling like vinegar all the time and I’m thinking about putting it on the balcony… Thanks for your advice! Cheers – Tobi

    1. Hi Tobi. I do the same thing with my vegetable scraps and have vinegar-orange peel cleaner brewing right now 🙂 I used my scrap vinegar to make that for the first time and am not sure how it will turn out. I’ll know in a few more days. The scrap vinegar should brew at room temperature. How cold is your balcony? I haven’t tried fermenting anything outside, and would hesitate to do so. (It’s a bit cool here right now, but may be warmer where you are…) I don’t think the smell is bad but I always have food fermenting so my kitchen may have some strong smells—all good food smells though (I think so anyway). I hope that helps.

      1. Hey Annemarie – right now, it’s Winter in Germany and my balcony is just above freezing temperature – so I think I’ll give the kitchen counter a go. Just this morning, I put my first apple scraps in the freezer and I’m excited to get started soon. I’m only wondering about what qualifies as “highly chlorinated water”. Where I live, the drinking water contains 122 mg/L Chlorides – it doesn’t smell the least bit of Chlorine though. What do you think? Thanks for sharing your experiences! Cheers – Tobi

      2. Oh well then I wouldn’t put it outside. The microbes won’t like the cold. You could store it out there when it’s done though, as long as it doesn’t freeze. The refrigerator is really just a fermentation-slowing-down machine.

        Gee, that’s a really good question. I would guess if it doesn’t smell, it should be okay. I look at this resource quite often and didn’t find much info, except how to get rid of the chlorine:

        I can find only info on the residual chlorine level here, which is 4 mg/L. Apparently that is considered safe but is not enforceable! It’s only a guideline the government sets. I’m learning all sorts of things today! Any chance you meant 1.22 mg/L?

  16. I’d love to make this because my eldest son eats plenty of apples and it would be good to use the cores before composting. But I am worried about fruit flies. We have enough in our house already and I can imagine that making our own vinegar would just attract them even more. Do you have any hints about getting rid of the fruit flies? We live in Sydney. It’s pretty warm here all year round.

    1. I haven’t had too much trouble with fruit flies but I do see some when I let my kombucha ferment too long. They also like my compost bucket. I’ve set up a trap in the past that worked really well. You pour a few tablespoons of vinegar in a dish (I used balsamic), cover it with a piece of tinfoil and poke holes in the tinfoil. The flies will fly in but can’t get out and drown. I’ll have to figure out how to do this zero-waste if I have a fruit fly problem again 😉 I hope you like the vinegar if you try it!

    2. I’ve just grown fond of the little buggers attracted to my scrap jars. I had a few in the house as late as February because of the vinegar, and I found myself charmed by their tenacity.

      1. Hahaha! I haven’t had much of a problem with them, but that is admirable, sort of the-little-bug-that-could-ish 🙂

  17. Will most definitely be trying this. BIG thank you.

    1. Thank you for reading, Aggie 🙂

  18. […] about it. No more endless bottles of shampoo and 100 different conditioners. I’m going to try making my own vinegar soon, so that should eliminate a bottle from the apple cider vinegar. It will be […]

  19. […] My personal favourite and so super super easy! There is a huge amount of recipes all around the web, and I mainly just made it up as I went along, but you can follow the steps from Zero Waste Chef in the recipe here. […]

  20. I want to find organic bulk white vinegar, but I really don’t think it exists. I figured if ANYONE knows about making your own white vinegar it’d be you.

    It seems you just make this. Do you know if it can be used pretty interchangeably (like, can I use it in laundry)? I love the idea of using scraps to make vinegar for the zero-waste aspect and because it’d be much much cheaper then the organic stuff in stores, but I’d love to know if this measures up to the white stuff.


    1. I have seen bulk cider vinegar in one store but not white vinegar. I haven’t made white vinegar, only scrap vinegar and vinegar from kombucha (you just let it ferment for weeks and weeks for VERY strong vinegar). I prefer to use the scrap vinegar for cleaning as it basically costs nothing, whereas I use very good tea for kombucha. I clean the toilet with my homemade vinegar, or combine it with baking soda to clean the tub and sink. I have also used it on my hair as a vinegar rinse. I haven’t used it in the laundry though. I’ll have to try that. How much white vinegar do you add to the laundry and what does it do? My outer cloth shower curtain has some mold on it and I have been wanting to add vinegar to the washing machine to try and get rid of it. I hope that works and that all of this helps.

  21. […] Save all the apple peels and cores in one big glass jars. Add a tablespoon of sugar, fill the jar with water and now have homemade scrap vinegar brewing away. You can find a detailed post on scrap vinegar here. […]

  22. […] QUI c’è una ricetta fantastica per autoprodursi l’aceto con torsoli e bucce di mela. […]

  23. […] dovrai ricorrere a uno sciacquo con aceto di mele. Tipo 1:10 in acqua, non a litrate! (sul sito di Zero Waste Chef c’è una ricetta per fare l’aceto di mele da bucce e torsoli, se ne mangiate molte vi consiglio […]

  24. […] yeah! Here’s the method I used. And here’s a link to a site I really like that has a bunch of home vinegar […]

  25. Sounds great! I am pretty new to homesteading and we just moved to Costa Rica for a while, so I am looking for all kinds of healthy, do-it-yourself and organic recipes.
    It’s very hot here, so I am wondering whether I have to store the vinegar in the fridge once it’s fermented and bottled?

    1. That might be a good precaution, Iris. I have a bottle of vinegar on my shelf right now that I made out of kombucha (I just let it ferment forever) and I open it every once in a while when I think of it (say, once a week or so) to let any built-up carbon dioxide escape. Sure enough, a little bit always does and I bottled the stuff months ago! So it’s still a little bit active.

  26. I’ve enjoyed your cooking & making foods yourself. Very conscious of using all things wisely. I would like to add that I have left open a carton or jug of orange juice for later use. By time I got back to it…a few days later, I had the most amazing orange juicevcider I’ve ever tasted. I can’t seem to reproduce this recipe. I wonder if I hv enough bacteria built up in a container with about 1 cup poured out? Perhaps I need to open the container wide to introduce more bacteria into the orange juice? If you have tried this I’d appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for that Betty Rose. I haven’t tried this myself but the next time you make it, I would save some of the finished fermented orange juice and pour it into the new batch. That will help kickstart the fermentation. But that doesn’t help you make the first batch. Sally Fallon has a recipe for orangina in Nourishing Traditions. Do you have good, cultured yogurt? Where I live, I buy Saint Benoit. It contains only milk and cultures. Strain some of that and use the whey. This is what Fallon puts in hers: juice of 12 oranges (not sure how much liquid that is, the book doesn’t say), 2 tsp salt, 1/4 whey, 1 1/4 quarts filtered water. Leave it covered on the counter for 2 days at room temperature before moving it to the refrigerator. I hope that does the trick 🙂

  27. Am excited to see how this turns out! I want to use vinegar in pepper jelly making. It calls for 7%. How do I determine that? Some says 5% in the stores.

    Also, can I use Apple pieces that have had lemon juice on them? I made apple rings and am dehydrating them and had little bits left.

    Also don’t want to waste the lemon juice….dressing and marinades😀

    1. Sorry to be so slow in my response! I am not sure how to determine the acidity. This isn’t super strong vinegar. It’s definitely vinegar though. If you figure out how to measure the acidity will you please let me know? For stronger vinegar, you can brew kombucha and just let it ferment for several weeks. I make that also.

      The apple peels with lemon on them should work just fine. The lemon also has good microbes all over it too 🙂

      Lemons are gold I think! Good for you to use them up!

      1. If the acidity is important then maybe you can do some science: do you know a chemistry teacher?!

      2. This is so awesome. Thank you!

  28. So excited to stumble across this post on how to make your own apple scrap vinegar. Like many of your other readers, I don’t peel my apples when making pie, crumble or smoothies but do accumulate a fair number of apple cores. Lovely to find a use for them before they end up in the worm farm. Thanks very much for the recipe!

    1. I’m glad you stumbled across it too, Anita. This is one of my favorite things to make. I feel so resourceful when I bottle it. I hope you and your worms both enjoy the end products 🙂

  29. Hello!
    I have my apple cores in the freezer. should I let them thaw before using them or can I put them in the water while they’re still frozen?
    And did I understand it correctly that usually it’s done after a. week or two? And then I have to burp it regularly? Can I just leave the bottle open a little instead? thanks!