Complete guide on how to make vinegar outlines doing it with and without a vinegar mother, and recipes for raspberry, red wine or apple cider vinegar.
If historical sources are to be believed, vinegar has been known to mankind for more than 10,000 years. Even if it was created by chance at the time, this acidic liquid was of great importance in almost all subsequent cultures.
Today it is impossible to imagine our culture without vinegar due to its many functions. Although the majority is produced on a large industrial scale today, some manufacturers are currently also producing delicious specialties on a small scale.
We too made our first batch ourselves years with a first small attempt. In the following years we read a lot about the production, made many experiments and relevant experiences, and tried different variants of production.
However, our efforts have not always been successful. However, following the trial and error principle, over the years we have been able to establish various methods with which we can successfully produce aromatic, fruity vinegar on a small scale. But more on that later.
If you want to make it yourself for your own use, above all you need patience and must not be unsettled by any setbacks and failures.
You should consider the following basic requirements right from the start:
- Vinegar is produced by acetic acid bacteria
- Acetic acid bacteria absolutely need oxygen in order to survive.
- Acetic acid bacteria love warmth.
What you need
- a glass vessel with a large opening
- little sulphurized fruit or grape wine with about 7 – 8% vol. alc.
- a cotton cloth
- a place with a constant temperature (~ 28 ° C)
- a vinegar starter culture or unpasteurized vinegar
How to make vinegar: step by step instructions
1.) Half-fill a large glass vesse with (unsulphurized if possible) fruit or grape wine with an alcohol content of about 7 – 8% vol. alc. in l. If the alcohol content of the base wine is higher, dilute the wine with water.
2.) Add either a vinegar starter culture or unpasteurized fruit vinegar to the wine. At the beginning, the amount of wine should be roughly the same as the amount of starter culture.
3.) Place this mixture in a warm place with an even temperature (~ 28 ° C) and cover the vessel with a cotton cloth.
4.) Shake the vessel several times a day to bring plenty of oxygen into the mixture.
5.) After about a week, the approach can be doubled with about the same amount of wine.
6.) Depending on the desired amount, wine can now be added weekly. In the first attempts, however, only a small amount of vinegar should be produced because of the risk of spoilage.
7.) Depending on the temperature, oxygen input and activity of the acetic acid bacteria, a so-called mother of vinegar forms after weeks . This is a gelatinous mass that forms at the interface between liquid and air. The acetic acid bacteria are located in this mother of vinegar. The formation of a gelatinous ‘mother’ is the first good sign for the success of vinegar production.
8.) In contrast to a gelatinous mother, a whitish, often dusty skin on the surface of the base, the so-called creamy skin, is a sign of a non-functioning production. The formation of a scum is not necessarily a sign that you have done something wrong, it can happen.
9.) If, in the best case scenario, a mother has formed, shaking the attachment should be stopped from this point on. The goal must now be that the mother swims permanently on the surface and does not sink. An active mother on the surface of the base is a clear sign of a functioning production. The thickness of the mother is now increasing from week to week.
10.) After several weeks, an odor smelling of adhesive becomes noticeable above the base. This is also a positive sign, testifies to the presence of an intermediate product of acetic acid fermentation, acetaldehyde, and is a clear indication of the activity of acetic acid bacteria.
11.) Congratulations! You have done everything right so far and just need to be patient.
12.) After a few more weeks, you can convince yourself of the successful production by carefully tasting the result.
13.) The vinegar is ready when the alcohol present has been completely converted into acetic acid.
Making without a mother
Inexpensive vinegar essence can be found in the supermarket. If you want to add herbs and / or fruits to your vinegar anyway, you are well advised to make it based on vinegar essence. The rule of thumb here: vinegar is made from one part of essence (with about 25% acid content) and four parts of water.
How to make raspberry vinegar
- Dilute 50 ml of essence by mixing it with 100 ml of water and 100 ml of wine.
- Add 100 g fresh or frozen raspberries. Store the jar at around 25 or 30 degrees.
- After about a week, sift the raspberries from the finished liquid and fill everything into clean bottles.
How to make red wine vinegar:
Let the red wine (also various leftovers) stand open and wait a few days until the preservatives have settled. Then mix 1 liter of water (mineral water – not tap water) with 1 liter of red wine in a new glass and add the vinegar. Let stand in a warm place for about 4 weeks. During this rest period, a thin layer of skin forms on top, which then slowly sinks to the bottom. This is the sign that the alcohol is converted into vinegar. After another 2-3 months, the red wine vinegar is ready to mature. It can be filtered through a sieve (if necessary) and bottled.
How to make herbal vinegar:
Here is the same principle as with a red wine version, only this one is made with white wine. After the 4 weeks add the herbal mixture. For this I used rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Then let it rest for another 2-3 weeks. You can cut the herbs into small pieces or add them whole. This is a matter of personal taste. Finally, fill the vinegar again.
How to make apple cider vinegar:
Leave white wines (also various leftovers) open and wait a few days until the preservatives have settled. Then mix 1 liter of water (mineral water – not tap water) with 1 liter of white wine in a new glass and add the vinegar. Let stand in a warm place for about 4 weeks. When the white basic vinegar has arisen, quarter the apples and add them to the glass. Stir the apples again and again so that all of the vinegar is soaked through. After another 2-3 weeks, take out the apples, filter the vinegar and fill into bottles.
I used different vinegars for my experiment. I am very satisfied with my fruity apple, cherry and raspberry versions. I will also try others. Currently I have made another one with maple syrup, port wine and dates. I am particularly looking forward to this version.
Conclusion: Making vinegar is really easy. You only need time and patience, as well as the desire to try something out and experiment. At home we will always have our own vinegar and I will try new salad dressings with it for the winter.
Genevieve Dumas is a design, fashion, food and style writer who has worked on major magazines and mastheads in the United States and Europe.