The Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.  +353 52 7441459
Apple Juice  >>  Cider Vinegar

Cider VinegarAs you may have noticed, we always like trying something different on our farm, and it is with this in mind that we began to experiment in the making of cider vinegar some years ago. Because of the nature of vinegar making, this is a long-term project.

It all began with the apple harvest of 2001, which was a very good one. In an effort to use some surplus apples, we set some to ferment. This was done by juicing the apples, and putting the juice in a tank with an air-lock. Because of the natural yeasts within apples (and on their surface), they soon began to ferment to cider. The reason for the air-lock on the tank was to prevent an explosion, because the yeasts that make cider produce carbon dioxide gas in the process, and this needed to be released. After about six months all the sugar in the juice had converted to alcohol, which meant that we had a cider with about 6% alcohol (because each 1% sugar gives 0.5% alcohol, and apples naturally contain about 12% fruit sugar).

Rather than drink this cider (which was a temptation), we then added a special vinegar-making bacteria culture. These bacteria live on alcohol, and utilise it in such a way that they convert it to acid. Unlike the yeasts that make cider, vinegar-making bacteria need plenty of air, and this was provided by keeping the cider in an unsealed shallow tank. After a few months a “mother” (gel-like substance) had grown on the surface of the cider, and this was the culture which was at work converting the cider to vinegar. Because these bacteria function best at temperatures of about 30°C, and because we do not get such high temperatures in Ireland, it took a couple of years for the bacteria to convert the alcohol to vinegar. The result has been worth the wait however, and now, quite a few years after we began, we have a nice vinegar bottled and ready for sale.

As many of our callers have already told us, cider-vinegar has for many  years been regarded as somewhat of a miracle cure. Amongst other things, the particular bacteria used in its making has anti-biotic properties, in that it can inhibit the growth of undesirable bugs. Cider vinegar has also been attributed with anti-arthritic properties and indeed, a number of books have been written espousing its virtues. I am just happy to recommend it as a nice salad dressing.

Cider vinegar for livestock

New Zealand dairy farmers have discovered a great way to reduce somatic cell counts in milk. It involves adding probiotic cider vinegar to their drinking water, although in fairly small amounts.
Over the past two years a number of Irish farmers have been using our cider vinegar for this purpose, and all have reported success, and all are continuing to keep cell counts down using our Karmine cider vinegar.
The mechanism by which cider vinegar reduces somatic cell count is not known. One possibility is that the acidic nature of the vinegar, and the enzymes it contains have some effect on the bloodstream, thereby somehow affecting the cell counts. Certainly, in tests on humans, consumption of cider vinegar has been reported to keep blood thinner.
The other possibility is that the probiotic bacteria in the vinegar affect the bacterial microflora in the cow’s system, and that this accounts for the lowering of cell counts. Support for this theory is again available from trials on humans, where probiotics are known to positively affect gut microflora, with resulting benefits for people who take them.
Recommendations for rates of use for cider vinegar vary, but one dairy farmer from Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, who has a 60-cow herd, used 4 litres (about 1 gallon) in the water trough as an initial treatment, and added 0.5 litres (about 1 pint) each day thereafter. Certainly this treatment worked well with a reported reduction in cell count from 500 to 160. This treatment was in wintertime to housed cows, so, the farmer felt that when cows are put out to grass, and water consumption falls, that a little more might be required. Hopefully I will get further reports back shortly, as the cows are now going out to grass.
If you wish to get probiotic cider vinegar, we have it available from our farm. If you bring your own container, we charge €2.50 per litre.
Please phone (052-7441459) or email (con@theapplefarm.com) in advance of calling, as to make the vinegar takes about three years, and we may not always have completed vinegar available.
And let us know how you get on.

To find out more about apple cider vinegar, the following books are worth considering:
Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System by Patricia Bragg Ph.D.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss and Good Health by C. Holzapfel
Cider Vinegar by Cyril Scott and John Lust
Cider Vinegar: The Natural Healer by Margaret Hills