As 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
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
Please phone (052-7441459) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss and Good Health by C.
Cider Vinegar by Cyril Scott and John Lust
Cider Vinegar: The Natural Healer by Margaret Hills