Wednesday, April 27, 2011

V is for Vinegar

Making vinegar?  That is probably one of the easiest but last things most people would ever think to make.  And it truly is easy.  I have been making vinegar for as long as I have been posting and I think I am probably a better vinegar maker than a

Seriously though, it really is incredibly easy to make vinegar.  All you need is a some left-over wine (you wouldn't want to use a good bottle!!), some water, a bottle of Bragg's cider vinegar or a vinegar mother, a jar with a large opening and lots of time. Time for it to sit, it really doesn't demand more than a minuscule amount of time.

These vinegars are not high enough in acetic acid to use them for canning.  It is best to stick with commercial vinegar for  canning.
Bragg's cider vinegar

How to make Red or White wine vinegar:

leftover wine
water (optional)
Bragg's cider vinegar
a vinegar mother
a jar with a large opening
coffee filter
rubber band
warm cupboard

Make sure that the jar that you will be using is good and clean.  The jar itself should have a wide mouth and be able to hold at least a three or four cups of liquid. A canning jar is great or, if you are planning a larger amount, a one gallon pickle jar would work as well.

You want to make sure there is a lot of head space or air above the vinegar because it needs it to aid in the conversion of the alcohol to vinegar, so don't fill your jar more than half full.  If you notice that it is getting pretty full and the vinegar is ready, filter it and start over.
White wine vinegar starting

There are three/four ways to make vinegar.  The first is just to take a wine bottle about half full and cover the top with a couple of layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter (basket style) that is held down with a rubber band to prevent flies from spoiling your batch.  Put this in the back of a warm cupboard and leave it for about six months.  At this time, remove from cupboard and give the wine a sniff.  It will either smell like vinegar and have developed a vinegar mother or smell like paint remover.  If it is vinegar, strain it into a clean bottle reserving the mother to help create a new batch.  If it smells like paint remover, recover it and put it back into the cupboard for another month.

The second way to make some vinegar is to take some Bragg's cider vinegar and put about one cup of it into the canning jar along with about two cups of wine. Some people add water when they add their wine but I don't, it is up to you.  If you decide to the proportion of wine to water is two to one or for one cup of wine add one half cup water.  I always figure that you can add water later if you find it too strong.  When you purchase the Bragg's, look for what looks like residue or dust on the bottom, the more the better.  This "dust" is the vinegar mother and is what will jump start your vinegar.   Again, cover it with some cheesecloth or a coffee filter and let sit in a cupboard for a couple weeks.  Add about a half cup of red or white wine occasionally - preferably about once a week after the initial period.  By adding the wine occasionally you will be feeding the mother.  Sometimes the mother will fall to the bottom and another will form on top.  You want her on the top to be effective.  When you decide the vinegar is to your liking - taste it to find out - strain and bottle it.

The third way to make vinegar is to acquire a vinegar mother from a wine store or another individual and add it to some wine.  Let sit and proceed in the same manner as for the first and second ways.  I don't have a picture of a mother (I lost/misplaced some pictures when my computer took a vacation.) but it can have the appearance of anything from a wispy veil to a solid raw meat type of look and feel.  If you google vinegar mother in images there are tons of pictures of various types of mothers.
Pineapple vinegar from fruit

The fourth way is to make it straight from the fruit but I won't go into that right now.

Something to note:  The vinegar mother should be fed occasionally to keep her viable.  If she falls to the bottom, it means two things - she has run out of wine to make vinegar and has lost her potency.  It is best to remove the old mothers occasionally.

Also - red wine will create vinegar far quicker than white wine but they both will take a few months.  Cider vinegar is the quickest to make.  After straining your vinegar, you can pasteurize it by bringing it about 150F for 30 minutes.  I personally don't pasteurize mine because I believe that it is more natural and better for you if you don't but it is a personal choice.  I do, however, keep mine in the fridge after I filter it to slow down the eventual development of a new mother.

You can dry out a mother for future use and I have heard of persons freezing them but I never have so don't know how well it works.


  1. I've never thought about making my own vinegar. It's so easy and inexpensive to buy. I doubt whether I'd ever make my own. For one thing, I've never had any left over wine.

    Hope you join us in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post on Monday May 2nd.

  2. You lost me at leftover wine. ;)

    It does seem like a fairly easy process. I'm always so impressed when you talk about making vinegar.