How to Make Your Own Vinegar
Basic Vinegar Recipes
Basic Wine Vinegar
(makes 1 quart)
Use a brewing vessel made of glass, stainless steel, enamel, or wood. I typically use a two-quart Mason jar. Clean the brewing vessel very well. Sterile equipment ensures that there are no other yeasts or bacteria competing with the vinegar bacteria.
Add the wine and water to the brewing vessel and swirl gently to mix. Cover the container with a cheesecloth or paper towel to keep insects out while allowing air to freely reach the stock. Secure the cover with a rubber band. Let the diluted wine sit for 24 hours to allow any sulfites to dissipate into the air. Remove the cover and add the mother of vinegar. Replace the cover and set aside.
Make sure to label the batch to identify which vinegar is being made. Store the mixture out of direct sunlight.
The mother of vinegar needs oxygen to convert the ethyl alcohol to acetic acid. Aerate the vinegar by gently swirling the diluted wine inside the brewing vessel once per day for the first week. You can tell when the wine starts turning into vinegar by a sharp, pungent acidic odor. If the diluted wine still smells like wine, the vinegar bacteria have not started yet.
Let the vinegar sit until you can see a thin film forming on top of the vinegar. This could take 1 to 6 weeks depending on the temperature. Warmer temperatures speed the process of making the vinegar. The film on top of the fluid is the beginning of a new mother of vinegar. This new mother will grow across the top of the vinegar and can reach 1/4 inch thick within two weeks.
Keep any eye on the wine as it is converted to vinegar. The volume of the vinegar will drop as the water in the mixture evaporates away. Taste a little of the vinegar each week until it reaches the strength that you want. Pour the vinegar through a coffee filter to remove the mother of vinegar. Now is the time to bottle and age the vinegar. You can also flavor the vinegar with fruits, herbs, and spices if desired.
Keep good notes on each step that you do to the vinegar. That is how you can go back and re-create fantastic vinegar or avoids the pitfalls found creating horrible vinegar.
Young vinegar is like a young wine, harsh to the taste but with a lot of potential. Aging will bring out its best qualities. Many people will add oak chips to the vinegar during the aging process to add to the vinegar's bouquet and flavor. Others will add herbs, spices, or flowers to the vinegar to create a unique flavor.
WARNING: Do not use homemade vinegar for pickling and canning. Do your pickling or canning with store-bought vinegars where you know for sure that the acidity is at least five percent.
Basic Malt Vinegar
(makes 1 quart)
Combine the beer or ale in a clean glass jar. Place a paper towel over the mouth of the jar. Secure the paper towel to the jar with a rubber band. Set aside for 24 hours to allow any sulfites dissipate. Remove the paper towel, add the mother of vinegar, replace the paper towel, and set aside. Watch for the mother of vinegar to appear on top of the beer. Let the vinegar age until it reaches the strength and acidity that you desire. Filter the vinegar until clear and bottle.
Article Copyright 2001-2003 by Brian Kettering