Homemade vinegar

I'm looking for tips on how to make homemade vinegar -- everything from equipment to technique.

Amanda Hesser


ktr January 4, 2016
This is an old thread but I have a related question.
I made apple cider and cherry vinegars this summer and my husband has banned me from making vinegar again because of all the fruit flies it attracted. None got into the vinegar but they were all over area I had the jars sitting. So is there a trick to making vinegar that won't turn my kitchen into a fruit fly haven?
702551 January 4, 2016
You are making it in the wrong place. Don't make vinegar in your kitchen. Put it in a barn, storage closet, garage, attic, etc.

Premium vinegar (like balsamic in Italy) is made in uninsulated barns, attics, sheds, etc., subject to temperature fluctuations throughout the days/nights, weeks, seasons, etc. It's basically made in the places where you don't make wine (stable, relatively cool environs).

If Sam1148 was able to make good vinegar by parking a paper towel-stuffed bottle under the sink, well he was lucky. That's not how artisan vinegar makers do it.

Find a better place for your vinegar. There is absolutely no reason to keep it in the living quarters of your house.
ktr January 5, 2016
I feel silly considering I have a garage, work shop and even a play house on my property that wound have been much better options and I didn't think to use any of them!
jakestavis January 2, 2016
so i'm having trouble finding mother in stores near me, would it work to just use some bragg's apple cider vinegar as a starter for wine vinegar?
AntoniaJames January 4, 2016
jake, I've never tried that, but I doubt that it will work. When I first started making my own vinegar, I bought the mother from Oak Barrel Winemaking, whose store is not to far from me. They sell it online: http://oakbarrel.com/vinegarmaking/starter_cultures.shtml It's well worth the investment. Once you get your vinegar going, you'll have all the starter you need, forever. It will pay for itself many times over. You can give the new mother that's created to your friends and let them enjoy great vinegar, too.
I hope this helps. ;o)
kate January 4, 2016
Yes that will absolutely work. The gelatinous stuff you see in a bottle of Bragg's is the mother. I've successfully made cider vinegar, wine vinegar and malt vinegar this way. (It wouldn't work with plain old Heinz vinegar since it is pasteurized, but any unpasteurized vinegar can be used as a mother.)
Susan W. January 5, 2016
Just as I make Kombucha mothers from raw Kombucha from the store, you can make vinegar mothers from Braggs raw apple cider vinegar. A quick Google search will give you the directions. It may be on www.kombuchakamp.com. They are a trustworthy site and where I learned everything kombucha. Those threads at the bottom of your vinegar bottle are the beginning of a mother.
Author Comment
This is great stuff folks! I have abottle of vintage 2006 cyser from my brothert in laws apiary he worked for. I hung onto it a bit too long and although it had a nice flavor it had the tinge of vinegar in the nose. I am glad that I didn't throw it away! I see some honey apple cider vinegar in my summer menu's future!
dymnyno April 22, 2011
If you leave wine that is leftover, it will not turn into good vinegar...it just becomes bad wine!
Burnt O. April 21, 2011
Thanks for asking this question Amanda, I'm learning so much! Maybe you should turn it into a blog post?? ;-)
dymnyno April 21, 2011
A bottle of wine will say "contains SULFITES". They are naturally occurring and all wines have sulfites...it comes with the grape. Even organic, green, and biodynamic wines contain sulfites. SULFATES are a different thing completely and they are not added to wine.
Sam1148 April 21, 2011
Update: I just looked at the bottle. Yes, it does have the "Contains Sulfates" on the label. Which goes against every thing I've heard...But again this was beaujolais nouveau, which is kinda sweet.
It still made very good vinegar. However, it has been sitting since November but I only tested it last night so I'm not sure when 'the magic happened'.
I remember my partner got a bottle of that few years ago as a gift, and it was forgotten, still stoppered and a year latter..it was also vinegar.

I think the upshot of this is that beaujolais nouveau really wants to be vinegar.
Greenstuff April 21, 2011
Sam1148's easy method--plug loosely, and wait--works well for a friend of my who isn't supposed to drink. Whenever she has leftover bottles from guests, she tucks them away. And my goodness, does she ever have a great selection of red wine vinegars! (The method doesn't work so well at our house, where we finish most everything we open.)
AntoniaJames April 21, 2011
I make my own wine and cider vinegars and have for several years. Dymnyno's article describes pretty well my method.Fine weave cheesecloth is a must, to keep the tiny vinegar flies out. I echo the comments of the others who say you should use organic wine, at least to start. I don't use a mother when I make apple cider vinegar, just unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar and organic unpasteurized apple cider. For all vinegars you need patience, for which you will be richly rewarded. The Oak Barrel wine making store in Berkeley (from which you can order online) sells casks in several sizes and vinegar mother. Once you start making your own vinegar, you'll have all the mother you need. And if you ever find out how to make sherry vinegar, please let us all know. That is the one vinegar that has eluded me. ;o)
dymnyno April 21, 2011
I just clipped this article from Napa Valley Life Magazine a couple of days ago! Ken Frank says" to use a wide mouth gallon jar or similar container. It is important to have plenty of surface area so the mother has ample access to oxygen. (Mother readily available from beer and wine making stores )or make your own from scratch. Mix 1/2 cup each of vinegar and fresh apple juice, cover with a cheesecloth and leave it at room temperature, out of the sun for about 10 days. The scum that forms on the surface is the mother. Combine that with leftover wine in your vinegar jar, dilute with some distilled water, cover with cloth and wait. It can take a good 2 months to get a couple of quarts converted to vingear. At that point you can start to use it regularly. Top it off from time to time as you end up with miscellaneous leftover wine and keep it from becoming too acidic by adding close to equal parts water as you go." Kept like this it will keep indefinitively.
prettyPeas April 21, 2011
Making pineapple vinegar is surprisingly easy and a great way of making something from nothing (what else are you going to do with pineapple peel?). I make it in a quart wide-mouth mason jar with 1/4 cup sugar (or piconcillo if I have it) and the peel of one pineapple. Cover with cloth and leave it for a week or so at room temperature, until it starts to turn dark. Strain the liquid out and allow it to mellow for a couple more weeks. I've had one failure when I let the peel stage go a little too long, and some of the peel was sticking above the liquid due to evaporation.
pauljoseph April 21, 2011
Coconut water is a good base for vinegar, but its sugar content is too low (only about 1%). Sugar needs to be added to bring the level of sugar up to 15%. After the addition of sugar, the coconut juice is allowed to ferment for about seven days, during which time the sugar is converted to alcohol. An alternative method is to pasteurise the coconut water and sugar mixture and add yeast.
After this initial fermentation, strong vinegar (10% v/v) is added to stimulate the growth of acetic acid bacteria and discourage further yeast fermentation. The acetic acid fermentation takes approximately one month, yielding a vinegar with approximately 6% acetic acid. The fermentation will take less time than this if a generator is used.
After fermentation, the vinegar must be stored in anaerobic conditions to prevent spoilage by the oxidation of acetic acid. (Steinkraus, 1996)
Burnt O. April 21, 2011
You MUST post the recipe for Siracha salt! I'm making it as soon as I get home from Holiday!
Sam1148 April 21, 2011
Oh great..now, My partner is looking over my shoulder making suggestions.
Pear salad, with the red wine vinegar..blue cheese and oregano. Should be an interesting weekend ;).

Sorry again for the thread jack. Come on guys! More tech and hardware comments for vinegar making at home! Other my weak suggestion "Plug a bottle of half used wine with paper towel and ignore it for 6 months"

Sam1148 April 21, 2011
@ BurntOffering.

It's off topic. But it's almost Easter. And deviled eggs will be on the menu for most.

Sriracha salt: 1/2 cup of koscher salt. 1 TBS siraracha sauce. Mix together, place on foil in 200 deg oven. Turn off after 10 mins. Next day. Put it in zip lock bag and smash it back to salt. Use on Deviled eggs. I love that stuff. It's nice and pink...and flavorful on deviled eggs.
Burnt O. April 20, 2011
OMG - Sam wins. Watermelon, finishing salt and red wine vinegar??? YUM
Sam1148 April 20, 2011
I'm still jazzed about the beaujolais nouveau vinegar. I ignored it since (well, when was it released, November?). It's just half a bottle, the ultra cheap stuff bought on a whim..with a paper towel plug.
Nothing else. Nature took it's course.
I pulled it out from under the counter. Nothing else was added, just a loose plug.

Now, from taste tasting it's excellent red wine vinegar. Oh, Thanks to this thread, I have to sterilize a vinegar bottle tomorrow and bottle and label it--it's ready. It may be good salad dressing this weekend. (I just tried it on some watermelon and black lava salt..damn good).
Burnt O. April 20, 2011
Sam1148 is right, and I think @chezpim tweeted the same. Either get a good vinegar starter from a friend - like a bread or sourdough starter, or make your own using Sam's method above. His point about NON-sulfates wines is key. Don't try this with your favorite Cab or Oakey Chardonnay - get a cheap, organic, sulfate free wine - and I dare you not to drink it and make vinegar!
Sam1148 April 20, 2011
Look at vinegar casks. With the spigots at the bottom. Use your left over wine (if any) to keep filling it. The wine should 'organic' without sulfates. Use a starter of organic vinegar to start the 'mother'. Treated vinegar won't have that. I've never done that, but used the below method.

For simple. I never finish a bottle of beaujolais nouveau and take a paper towel and plug the bottle and let it set at room temp. I think it was November. At room temp is the key here.

Whooo!..I just tested it. It's Vinegar! This was 1/2 left over bottle of cheap nouveau. Opened..I only plugged it with paper towel. Just now I took a taste test...it's very good vinegar. No special equipment needed. Now, I need to bottle it in nicer bottle with label.
It's well ready for salads. I mean very good red wine vinegar. (okay a touch on the sweet side, but I like that).
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