Making the Perfect Local Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar—pure, certified organic, unfiltered, and unpasteurized—is incredible stuff. Relied on for thousands of years for its health benefits, delicious flavor, and ability to preserve foods, it has the perfect balance of acidity with a hint of sweetness that makes it suitable for many food applications.

There are certainly levels of quality available, and the mass-produced filtered and pasteurized versions don’t please our palates at all. We do like some of the higher quality certified organic varieties, with their complex fruity-earthy flavor, but we don’t like that they come from a blend of apples that are sourced widely and from far away.

We’ve been looking for a local variety, made from certified organic apples grown near us and fermented using time-tested, old-world methods.

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organic apple from our supplier's orchard

It’s an important ingredient to us because it’s in many of the products we make, including all of our breads. It naturally extends their shelf life, while also making the bread even healthier and tastier. We have only ever bought the highest-quality certified organic apple cider vinegar available. But we want even better.

So we came to the decision that we’ll have to be our own source of apple cider vinegar.

We already have a wonderful relationship with a certified organic apple cider producer not far from us. Fermentation poses a few issues with them, however, so we started doing some tests ourselves.

Starting with small batches, we turned out successful and exciting results—gorgeous amber-colored vinegar with a perfect balance of acid that we continually tested until it resulted in a perfect 5.0% acidity. (If you’re interested, the acid produced by apple cider fermentation is acetic acid, and we use a titration test and some algebra to determine the final level of acid.)

Our plan is now to go through all the required and strictly maintained certification processes with our organic certifying partner Pennsylvania Certified Organic. We will then be able to start using our own vinegar—sourced from local apples, and fermented in house to our exacting standards.