You might have some vinegar in your cupboards already, but if you run out, does that mean you have to go to the store to replace it? Actually, you can make vinegar yourself at home, and I’ll show you how to make vinegar from scratch using ingredients you may already have.
Since you can buy vinegar so cheaply in the store, why would you want to make it yourself? The answer is that it tastes better when it’s homemade, and you’ll see that when you try it yourself.
How Do You Make Vinegar?
You will need something known as a vinegar mother to start with. This is a mass of bacteria that turns your liquid into vinegar over time. You probably won’t have any handy, but if you keep some on hand, you can make vinegar whenever you like.
When you’re making vinegar at home, you want to ensure you prepared a place for it where it won’t have to move around. If you try to move vinegar after you’ve started to make it, you can damage it. It’s going to need a dark place that’s somewhat warm- around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit-and that has adequate air circulation.
If you want to keep the jar of vinegar dark after you’ve made your vinegar, you can cover the sides of it with a towel or something else and fasten that around the jar to keep it dark.
Use hot water to sterilize your storage jar. Make sure the water isn’t boiling hot, though.
If you purchase vinegar mother, it should come with instructions that tell you about what kind of liquid to add to it. The method for how to make apple cider vinegar requires that you add organic hard cider and use an apple cider vinegar mother.
How to make red wine vinegar instead? Use organic sulfite free red wine, using a 2:1 ratio of red wine to water. Put that in the jar and then add your red wine vinegar mother.
Once your liquid is in the jar with the vinegar mother, you can cover it with a cheesecloth. This allows for some air ventilation but keeps out fruit flies and other pests as well as particles. You can secure the cheesecloth onto the jar with rubber bands. Make sure you don’t use so much cheesecloth that you’re blocking airflow, though.
Over a period of time, you will add more liquid to the jar. It’s best to use a funnel for that so that you don’t need to move the jar and disrupt the vinegar mother. You want to add the liquid gradually, because adding it all at once can overwhelm the vinegar mother and slow down your production of vinegar.
Using the funnel is helpful because you can make your liquid run to the side and aim it away from the vinegar mother, so it doesn’t get disturbed.
You can add your liquid about once a week, giving the liquid in the jar time to ferment in turn to a proper, strong vinegar.
Making vinegar at home from scratch can take a while, but it’s worth it for the authentic, vibrant taste.
How to Make Balsamic Vinegar
You can make balsamic vinegar at home as well, to use in dressing or just as another variety of vinegar in your baking.
To make this, you’ll mix together one part sugar and five parts vinegar. Put this mixture in a pan and cook on the stovetop on low heat. Stir frequently as it cooks, and continue cooking until the sugar dissolves entirely.
If you want the flavor to be just right and the proper dark color, make sure you are using an aged, dark vinegar. I prefer rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar. Once you cook up your balsamic vinegar, let it cool completely before you use it to make it into a dressing or in a recipe.
How to Make White Vinegar
Let me share with you a method for making white vinegar at home, which is going to be a little bit different from making the other kinds of vinegar I have covered already.
- 1/2 gallon of water
- 1 packet of baking yeast
- 1 3/4 cups of sugar
- 2 cups of unfiltered vinegar
- 1 large balloon
- 1. You have to make mother of vinegar first, which means combining sugar and water and heating them up on the stovetop. Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves all the way and then let it cool afterwards.
- Pour your sugary water into a glass jug and add the baking yeast.
- Stretch the balloon until it covers the glass jugs opening. Rest the jug in an area with a consistent temperature, and leave it there for two weeks.
- Then, pour the liquid into a glass or stainless steel container. Try to pick one that has a wide mouth.
- Add your unfiltered vinegar and cover the container with cheesecloth. Seal it with a rubber band and place the container in a dark area.
- The mother of vinegar will form on the surface as vinegar ferments, and it can take around three to four weeks for the vinegar to finish.
- The finished vinegar can be strained through several layers of cheesecloth, and you can set the mother vinegar aside to use for later. You can then store your vinegar in the fridge or pasteurize it so it will be able to remain at room temperature safely.
- To pasteurize, put your jar of vinegar uncapped in a pot of cold water. Warm the water on the stovetop until it starts to simmer and them remove it from the heat. Cap the jar and remove it from the water and allow it to cool.
The next time you run out of vinegar when you’re cooking or don’t have any on hand when you’re about to make something that requires it, you may not need to take a trip to the grocery store. You can just use the handy guide in this article to make it yourself.