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Making Vinegar at Home

On the last day of 2011, we began our first attempt at making red wine vinegar. It seemed to be an easy process but we won’t know how it turns out for several weeks.

Probably the most difficult part was acquiring the materials needed. This isn’t a problem if you know someone who already makes vinegar. Most people are willing to share their vinegar mother.

I remember while growing up that my mother did a lot of canning. The shelves in the cellar would be filled with cans of vegetables and fruits including pickles and pickled beets. Pickles and pickled beets needed vinegar. Mom would buy a gallon of cider vinegar at a time. Once while looking in a dark corner cupboard I discovered a partially used vinegar container with this ugly looking mass in it. Yuck! It was slimy looking and a grayish mass of blob. So unappetizing! Later I learned that this was vinegar mother.

Apparently today most vinegar is pasteurized and this prevents vinegar mother from starting. For those who can’t find vinegar mother in a nearby store, it can be purchased online.

The next important item to have when making vinegar is a crock or small oak barrel. I would have liked a small oak barrel as they have a certain down home look but the ones I saw did not look like they were well made. Since I didn’t want to deal with a leaking barrel, I decided to wait until after the holidays to continue my search. On Christmas day Terry surprised me with a beautiful hand crafted ceramic crock specifically designed for vinegar making.  Other glass containers can be used including old glass cookie jars and sun tea makers. Do not use crocks made of crystal that may contain lead, metals, plastics and other materials that may react with the vinegar!

Materials for Making Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine (Use a wine that has good aroma and taste. The higher the alcohol of the wine, the higher the acidity of the vinegar)
Red Wine Mother
Water (non-chlorinated)
Crock (Check that it is safe for making vinegar)


Apres Vin

Red Wine Vinegar Making Steps

  1. Clean vinegar crock and utensils to be used.
  2. Follow the cleaning with a solution to sterilize. Follow the directions carefully.
  3. Add a good red wine. We used the Petite Sirah we made in 2010 as it had good taste and aroma and only 12.5% alcohol.
  4. Add water (non-chlorinated)
  5. Add the red wine mother.

The top of the container needs to be covered with several thicknesses of cheesecloth but not closed. Oxygen needs to reach the mixture for the process to take place. Set the crock in a warm, preferably dark place. Check it in a week or so. Eventually the mixture should begin to have an aroma of vinegar, bright and sharp. We checked the aroma after a few days and noticed a slight aroma of wine and the aroma of vinegar.

I’m impressed with the ease and simplicity of the directions and actually making the vinegar. I’m ready to purchase a sun tea container or use an old glass one-gallon cookie container and attempt to make a white wine vinegar. At the moment my only choice is to order white vinegar mother online.





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