Vinegar is an incredibly useful product. It’s healthy to consume and flavors a wide variety of foods. Different types of vinegar each impart a different flavor. In its distilled version vinegar has many cleaning uses around the house too. If you ever find yourself in a situation in which you’re unable to buy vinegar at the store, you can make your own, although it does take some time. Here are the steps to making your own vinegar.
Determine Your Alcohol Source
You’ve probably seen different types of vinegar at the store. The most common vinegar in the United States is apple cider vinegar, made from apple cider, the hard stuff that is. There are also red wine and white wine vinegars, made from red and white wine; rice wine vinegar made from rice wine, and malt vinegar made from beer. An alcohol content of between 5% and 8% is ideal for vinegar making. The alcohol content of about 8% should result in a vinegar with about a 5% acid concentration. You can also experiment with making vinegar from various other fermented fruit juices.
Find a Starter
There are three primary means of getting the acetic acid bacteria you need to make vinegar.
- Many stores now sell unpasteurized and unfiltered vinegar. Using some of that vinegar will introduce acetic acid bacteria into your alcohol source.
- You can also try to find a mother of vinegar from someone who makes vinegar. The mother is a slimy mass that consists of bacteria and cellulose. You can just take a piece from someone else’s mother and drop it into your alcohol source.
- You may also be able to find acetic acid bacteria at stores that cater to homebrewers or winemakers.
Prepare Your Container
As with any time you’re playing with bacteria, you want to make sure that everything you use is properly clean and sanitized. For vinegar, you’ll want to use a glass container, as the acidity of the vinegar will react with metals. Clean and sanitize the glass container thoroughly.
Begin Making Vinegar
If you’re using some sort of starter, you’ll want to pour it into your container and swirl it around to coat the sides thoroughly. Then add your alcohol. Next, put a clean piece of cheesecloth over the opening of the container and secure it with a rubber band or string. You want air to be able to access the vinegar, but you want to keep flies out.
Wait For It
Vinegar will take about 3-4 weeks to make. You’ll need to keep your container in a warm, dark place that’s between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You will likely see a mother forming in the vinegar. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing. You can use that mother to create another batch of vinegar later on.
You’ll want to smell the vinegar to make sure that it has a nice, strong vinegary smell. Taste a small bit to see if it’s completely turned to vinegar. If not, let it sit for another week or two.
Bottle and Store Your Vinegar
Once your vinegar is finished, you’ll want to bottle it in a sterile glass jar and seal it. Unpasteurized vinegar can be stored in the refrigerator for several months. If you want to pasteurize your vinegar, heat it to between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit for the proper amount of time to pasteurize it. Once pasteurized, vinegar can be stored in a sterile glass container for months at room temperature.