Ever look at the selection of vinegars in the store and found them a bit… lacking?
Well now you can do something about it. Surprisingly, homemade vinegar is very easy to make, and delicious too!
I started off following the directions from this site rural-revolution.com to make my own homemade vinegar. The main thing I was looking for was the ratio of sugar to water and the timing of how long to let the vinegar sit before it was ready.
So what do you need to make your very own vinegar?
Empty glass jars
Fruit scraps or whole fruit
To start this whole process off you’ll want to make sure your jars are sanitized. The entire process for making vinegar works off of beneficial bacteria. You want to make sure the jars are thoroughly cleaned before using them. This includes making sure all soap or other cleaners, such as bleach, are fully washed out.
Next I used quart canning jars. There were two reasons I used canning jars. One, we have lots of them and they’re a convenient size. Two, glass is non-reactive. Going into a little science here, you’re going to take a sugar, convert it to alcohol, and then into a vinegar. This means metals such as aluminum will have negative reactions to the acid being produced.
For each quart jar use 1/4 cup of sugar. If you’re using a gallon sized container just scale it up to 1 cup per gallon of water.
Next add in your fruit scraps. I made two kinds of vinegar from leftover fruit scraps. Pineapple vinegar, and pomegranate vinegar. Make sure none of the fruit you’re using has been eaten on, or you will be introducing bad bacteria to your batch.
Cover the container with a thin cloth and secure with a rubber band or other restraint. The cloth allows the vinegar solution to vent as the bacteria go to work converting all the sugars into alcohol. This also draws out flavor from the fruit. This process can take a couple weeks to several weeks. Just sit the container in a cool dry area and let it be.
Once the fermentation process has completed, after letting it sit for a few weeks, open your container and drain out the fruit, keeping the liquid.
Congratulations, you’ve now made alcohol, but I wouldn’t drink it. You’ve passed the sugar water solution, and made it to the alcohol stage, next up vinegar. Yep, those busy little bacteria aren’t done yet. Place your liquid back into your jars and cover with the cloth again.
Now let the solution sit for a few weeks up to a few months. This allows the acidification to occur and will produce a nice tangy vinegar.
Preservation Tip: You’ll notice a kind of gel like scum floating in your vinegar solution. This is referred to as the “mother”, and is actually what is helping your fruit water convert into vinegar. Leave it in there and don’t worry about it. Nature will take its course.
So now you’ve waited and waited and are finally ready to open up you jars and see what’s inside. Would you look at that, your very own homemade vinegar. Lets see what it looks like.
As you can see above, the pomegranate vinegar turned a nice purple as it processed. The pineapple vinegar actually has a slight yellow tint to it.
At this point you could place your vinegar into the fridge and start using it for all kinds of things. A nice marinade for some steak, or for making a homemade vinaigrette dressing. If you want to make it last a bit longer you can also can it.
Preservation Tip: Now homemade vinegar is untested and may not be very acidic. While the vinegar in the store is tested to ensure it’s strong enough to can. If you can this you do so at your own risk. Alternatively you can also test the pH of the vinegar to determine if it’s acidic enough to can. If unsure and you still want to can your vinegar, consider pressure canning it as you would for any low acid item.
I tested my vinegar and it came well within the safe limits for water bath canning.
I strained my vinegar to remove the mother, or gel like substance, and heated it to a boil.
After that I placed it into the water bath canner for 20 minutes. I live at a slightly higher altitude close to 3,000 ft. If you are higher than that you will want to adjust the canning time.
When it was completed you can see how it turned out.
I used Tattler Lids to reduce the amount of metal contact the vinegar would have.
There you have it. Homemade vinegar with only a few steps, and several weeks of waiting. You can make vinegar out of any fruit, so try it with apples, peaches, pears, grapes, or even something exotic like dragonfruit. The sky is the limit and you’ll have learned a fun new skill.