This fermented cherry vinegar is a sweet homemade condiment that adds a unique flavor to salad dressings, marinades, or cocktails.
If you have an abundant harvest of cherries and are unsure what to do with them before they spoil, we have got you covered. Instead of simply freezing the cherries or making compote or marmalade, you can transform them into delightful cherry vinegar. With a tangy and slightly sweet taste, this homemade fermented fruit vinegar adds an exciting kick to your summer salads or lemonades, provides numerous health benefits and is easy to make. Moreover, infused vinegar and oils are perfect summer food projects.
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What is Cherry vinegar?
Made from fermented cherries, Cherry vinegar is a unique, flavorful, and red color fruit vinegar that offers a balance of tanginess and sweetness that sets it apart from other flavored vinegar. Fruits vinegar need time to develop their flavors; thus, By steeping cherries in water for a longer period; you create a unique and delicious lacto-fermented vinegar with deeper cherry undertones.
Health benefits of cherry vinegar
Cherry vinegar is not only tasty but also eases digestion as it is packed with probiotics. In addition, It contains vitamins, minerals, and acetic acid that help keep the blood sugar level normal, lowers blood pressure, and fights inflammation in the body. Cherry vinegar is also a powerful antioxidant that helps your body naturally eliminate toxins. And acetic acid is known for its strong antibacterial properties, which can keep harmful bacteria away.
Ingredients to make wine vinegar
All you need is cherries and water, and lacto-fermentation does the rest.
While you can use fresh, perfect cherries, the great advantage of this recipe is to use cherries that may need to be better for eating fresh and turning them into gold liquid. Like, overripen cherries or sour when fresh.
- Just make sure they are not moldy to avoid any mold growth in your ferment.
- Use 1 cup of sweet cherries without cherry pits or unprocessed cherry juice.
- 2 cups of water - use unchlorinated water
- Herbs - You can also add fresh herbs or spices like mint or basil.
- Orange peel - optional to keep the cherries submerged in the water.
What equipment do I need?
For this particular recipe, you need a clean glass jar with something to cover it. Airlock fermenting lids are great as they help to keep fruit flies away but paper towel or a rubber band will also work. The half gallon is the best, but any size will do.
How to make Cherry vinegar?
First step: Prepare cherries
Fill a glass jar about ¾ full with pitted and chopped cherries. You can also add some herbs or orange peel. Don't overfill the jar because when the fermentation occurs, the liquid becomes active and bubbles up. If the jar is too full, it may overflow and create a mess.
Second step: Cover the fruits with water.
Pour unchlorinated water over the fruits, so all are submerged fully in the water. You can also add some herbs or orange peel on the top to prevent the cherries from floating above the water.
Cover the jar and let steep in the vinegar for at least one week in a cold place without direct sun, like your pantry.
Third step: The first fermentation stage
This cherry vinegar undergoes two fermentation stages. The first stage lasts approximately 1-2 weeks, and over that period, the cherries release their juices and convert their sugars into cherry flavor vinegar. It is important to monitor the ferment occasionally. Keep the fruits submerged in the water, add more water if it evaporates, or push the fruits below the water.
As the fermentation progresses, the water will become cloudy and gradually clear up again. You are ready to proceed to the second ferment when the water is clear. However, some fruit vinegar may remain somewhat cloudy, so relying solely on the clarity of the water can sometimes be challenging.
So If the water doesn't appear clear in two weeks, you can move on to the second ferment.
Fourth step: The second fermentation stage
Strain all of the cherries from the vinegar. You can use a mesh sieve to strain it into another container.
Thoroughly clean the glass jar and pour the liquid back into it.
Cover the jar once again and let it ferment for at least two more weeks.
At this stage, you can smell and taste the vinegar periodically. Once you are happy with the flavor, pour the vinegar into a dark glass bottle. Keep the vinegar in a cool dark place or store it in the refrigerator.
Can temperature affect the fermentation process?
Colder temperatures slow down the fermentation process, while warmer temperatures accelerate it. Thus, refrigerating your cherry vinegar will ensure its taste will not change over time.
Ideally, the room temperature should be maintained at 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 24 degrees Celsius).
How to prevent mold development in vinegar?
The mold issues shouldn't develop if your cherries remain submerged in the vinegar.
If you notice cloudy substances forming at the bottom of the vinegar, it's likely the formation of the vinegar mother, which is beneficial for the growth of good bacteria.
If you see white residue on the surface of the vinegar, simply remove it by skimming it off.
However, in rare cases where mold appears in the vinegar, despite submerging the fruit, it's best to discard the vinegar.
What can cause mold growth? There are three factors to consider:
- Lack of airflow: Avoid storing the vinegar in a confined, damp space.
- Mold in your home: Place the vinegar in an area with proper airflow to prevent mold growth.
- Excessive heat during fermentation: If your home temperature exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) in the summer, it's advisable to freeze the fruit scraps and make vinegar during a cooler time of year
How to use cherry vinegar?
- Its rich and complex flavor adds a unique twist to green salads, grain salads, or fruit salads. It makes a great alternative to cherry balsamic vinegar. Create a tangy and fruity vinaigrette by combining cherry vinegar with olive oil, a touch of fermented honey or syrup, .
- It makes an excellent base for marinades to tenderize and flavor meats, poultry, or even tofu. It is great to incorporate into barbecue sauces, glazes, or reductions to add a sweet and tart element.
- Add cherry vinegar to your pickling brine to infuse a fruity and acidic flavor to pickled vegetables like cucumbers, onions, capers or beets.
- Drizzle a small amount of cherry vinegar over fresh fruits like strawberries, watermelon, or peaches to enhance their natural sweetness. Use it in dessert recipes in dessert recipes like fruit compotes, strawberry sauces, or even soups.
- Mix it with sparkling water or soda for a refreshing and slightly tart beverage. You can also use it to flavor homemade lemonades or other fruit-based drinks.
- It is a great compliment to any cheese plate or charcuterie board.