If there is one condiment that every kitchen has, that is vinegar. This acidic liquid is an all-around component in cooking, baking, and even cleaning. That is why when you run out of vinegar at the time you need it most, you might drive to the nearest mart and purchase one. But, what if we tell you that you can take your mind off an empty bottle? Instead of going for a drive to replenish your stock, you can just learn how to make vinegar at home.
What makes homemade vinegar even more interesting is how you can make various types without going gaga over measurements and demanding equipment. For red wine vinegar, simply combine organic sulfite-free red wine with water in a jar. And for apple cider vinegar, mix the organic hard cider with the apple cider “mother”. Making vinegar from scratch is fun and simple. Here is everything you need to get started on this project.
- Vinegar “mother”
- Sulfite-free organic red wine (For Red Wine Vinegar)
- Hard cider (For Apple Cider Vinegar)
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make Vinegar
1. Prepare the storage area
Before you start making your vinegar, you need to find a specific area in your home where you will store the bottles while undergoing fermentation. The place should be stable enough wherein movements are zero to none. The reason behind this is that vinegar does not respond well to movement. It can get dislodged or the process of fermentation may stop.
Make sure to store your homemade vinegar in a dark and cool place. Ideally, the temperature should be at 70-80 degrees. Proper air circulation is also important when keeping your vinegar to avoid foul smell and taste.
2. Clean and sterilize your equipment
From glass containers to knives, make sure that each tool is properly cleaned and sterilized. You do not want your vinegar to encounter any unwanted bacteria while the conversion is on-going because this will affect the overall fermentation of your vinegar.
You can use hot water or even bleach to get rid of any dirt in your equipment. Since you will be using your bare hands for this procedure, make sure that you wash them properly.
3. Check the spigot before starting
It is important to check whether the spigot is properly working or not. During the conversion, you will be constantly adding liquid to the vinegar. This means that the converted vinegar is at the bottom part of the jar while the liquid on top is still undergoing fermentation.
To drain the finished vinegar, a working spigot is essential. This will also prevent the disruption of the liquid on top.
4. Add the liquids
Once the ingredients and equipment are ready, it is time to begin the process.
For the red wine vinegar, add about 16 oz. of organic sulfite-free red wine to an 8 oz. water in the jar. Although you are using an organic red wine, diluting it in water is an essential step to balance the alcohol level. Too much alcohol content can also prevent the fermentation from being successful.
For the apple cider vinegar, add around 22 oz. of hard apple cider and the vinegar “mother” to the same amount of water.
5. Secure the jar with cheesecloth and rubber bands
Just like in any fermentation process, carbon dioxide should escape from the mixture while keeping it safe from any airborne bacteria. This is done with the use of cheesecloth. So, after the vinegar has been transferred to the glass jar, cover the top with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth.
Make sure that it is properly sealed with rubber bands. Although it has layers of protection, do not make it too tight, or else the air will not properly circulate inside the vinegar.
6. Feed the “mother”
While the vinegar is just starting its conversion process, you should take it easy when pouring liquid into the vinegar “mother”. When you add liquid now and then, the “mother” might be overwhelmed and may cause the production of vinegar to slow down.
We suggest that you use a funnel when pouring additional liquid into the vinegar mixture. This way, the “mother” will not be disturbed and the liquid will run to the side instead of at the center of the jar.
What is a Vinegar “Mother”?
The “mother” is a term associated with an innocuous mucoidal blob poured into the liquid you use to make vinegar. This is also known as SCOBY or a mass of bacteria and yeast that causes the fermentation process.
Red Wine Vinegar: Can Any Wine Be Used?
When making red wine vinegar, a sulfite-free organic red wine is a must. If sulfites are present in the liquid, it can prevent the conversion process or fermentation.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Can Regular Apple Cider Be Used?
Hard apple cider is needed when making apple cider vinegar. The alcohol content found in this type of cider will aid in the vinegar conversion.
Time Frame of Making Homemade Vinegar
The full conversion process of making vinegar can take from 3 weeks to 6 months. The time frame it takes to complete your homemade vinegar depends on the temperature, starting material, and the availability of acetic acid bacteria.
The warmer the temperature is, the faster the fermentation will be. However, you also do not want to make it at a boiling temperature since the “mother” can be killed.
How To Identify A Completed Homemade Vinegar?
Check the vinegar after 3-4 weeks since its conversion started. The first step involves smelling the glass jar. It should have a strong aroma to pass the initial round. When you achieve that powerful vinegar smell, it is time to unwrap the cheesecloth for a taste test.
If you are already satisfied with the taste, you can transfer the vinegar to a serving bottle or jar. You can also infuse the finished product with herbs for additional flavors. However, if it is still lacking in taste, you can replace the cheesecloth and let it sit for a few more weeks or months.
Why Make Homemade Vinegar?
Vinegar is readily available at grocery stores and comes at an affordable price. If this is the case, why do you have to learn how to make vinegar? It is important to note that homemade vinegar is a lot better than its commercialized counterpart. Here are the benefits you can enjoy when you make vinegar from scratch.
More complex taste
Compared to store-bought vinegar, those that you will make at home are packed with complex and strong flavors. Since every bottle is not mass-produced, you can focus on enhancing the taste you desire. Having said that, you might notice that every dish you prepare with your own vinegar has livelier flavors.
Perfect for giveaways
Nothing beats a handmade gift. Homemade vinegar can be your go-to giveaway for the holidays. You can personalize your bottles according to your creativity and make your friends or family happy with a delightful condiment.
Always in stock
Gone were the days when you have to skip cooking a dish you crave because your bottle of vinegar has already run out. When you know how to make vinegar, you can produce and use as much as you want. You can also share some with your neighbors and maybe turn it into a small business!
Problems When Making Vinegar and Possible Solutions
Since making vinegar involves the presence of bacteria, problems may arise during the conversion process. Here are some issues you may encounter and the possible solutions to them.
These small flies or gnats are attracted to anything sweet, sour, and organic materials. They are specifically captivated by the smell of vinegar and are called “vinegar flies”. You don’t want fruit flies to enter your vinegar because when they do, they will not get out. To avoid this from happening, it is important to secure your glass jar with a cheesecloth. Properly seal it with rubber bands to avoid any sort of opening.
Lack of air circulation
One way to mess up your homemade vinegar is when there is not enough air for the mixture to breathe. Having said this, it is necessary to look for a storage area that has access to air. When you notice that the vinegar is starting to have that “acetone smell”, it means that you need to transfer the bottle to a more open area. However, make sure to carefully move the vinegar to avoid the dislodging of the “mother”.