For most consumers it is easy to just reach for a jar of vinegar when at the grocery store. If you prefer to make your own, fear not, it is possible. In fact, making your own vinegar can be fun and convenient if you follow these steps.
- Glass tea jar with spout
- 1 quart fresh fruit juice (any fruit works)
- 1 quart starter culture (bacteria)
- Smaller bottles for vinegar
Head to your local brew house. Before getting started you need to have some vinegar culture or bacteria needed to make good vinegar. You can skip this step and the fruit juice will turn to vinegar on its own but you will get inconsistent results so it is best to start with a culture. Look for unpasteurized vinegar at the brew house from the available options.
Clean your supplies. Starting with a clean glass jar helps ensure that the only bacteria in your vinegar are those used for making vinegar. You don't want mold, mildew or other contaminants getting into your vinegar mix.
Pour fresh fruit juice and starter culture liquid into the jar. You can use any fruit juice you want as long as it is fresh and not pasteurized. Apple is a popular juice option because it makes for a tasty vinegar mix.
Cover the jar with cloth. Don't use the lid that comes with the jar since the lid locks out air. To make vinegar you need air. Cover the wide mouth of the jar with cloth to let air in but keep bugs out.
Place the mix jar in a warm, dark place. Look for a room or closet that is room temperature or slightly warmer and dark. You need lots of warm, fresh air to get to the jar. This step of the process can take from three to six months depending upon the culture and the temperature.
Test once a week. Check the vinegar weekly to see if it's ready. Once it is strong enough or you notice the strength waning instead of growing, the vinegar is ready.
Bottle the vinegar and store until ready to use. You may want to let the vinegar settle for a few months before use. This is up to you and your tastes. Typically if you let the bottle of vinegar sit for a few months it will be smoother when you start using it.
The simple steps above are all it takes to make good vinegar at home. Remember that vinegar can be made using almost any fruit juice, starch or even sugar as long as the bacteria are present in combination with a sugar substance that can be fermented into vinegar. Also remember to avoid using processed fruit juice because those are treated to prevent bacteria and turning into vinegar.