How to Make Your Own Vinegar

Written by Jonathan Dick

Making your own homemade vinegar is a great way to save money and become more self-sufficient. With a simple process, you can create your own vinegar to add to your family’s food storage.

The majority of vinegars made by homesteaders are apple cider vinegars or some type of variation. The process is pretty simple and the materials are pretty easy to come by. Below, we’ve listed some directions on how you can make your own.

Helpful Hints
Be Clean. Creating vinegar is a process of fermentation. However, you want the right bacteria to be growing in the jar of vinegar. If you aren’t washing your hands and allow foreign bacteria from your hands or the countertop you’re working on to get inside the container, the vinegar probably won’t turn out right.

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Don’t Use Metal Containers. We recommend using a mason jar to hold your vinegar. Placing vinegar inside metal containers will react badly and create a metallic taste or even poison.

Sweet Sugar. Your alcohol that you’re creating will be a lot stronger if you don’t hold back on the sugar in the first step. The stronger the alcohol, the better the vinegar will keep on the shelf.

How to make vinegarStep 1: Making the Alcohol
You’ll need:

• Apple scraps or cores (You may use other fruit if you want to experiment)
• Large Mason Jars
• Sugar
• Water
• Cheesecloth or flour sack cloth
• Bungee cord or twine

You’ll first want to place the fruit scraps in the large jar or container. In a separate container, add 1/4 cup sugar to every 1 quart of water. Stir well or until dissolved. Add the sugar water to the scraps until the fruit is covered in liquid.

Cover the container with a cheesecloth or sackcloth and tie the top down with a cord. This will allow the contents to breath but still keep out fruit flies or bees. Place the container in an area that maintains a 65-80 degrees F temperature. Check the containers daily and allow the concoction to sit for about a week. If the liquid begins to bubble, don’t worry; just allow it to finish its bubbling process.

Step 2: Converting the Alcohol to Vinegar
You’ll need:

• Strainer
• Cheesecloth
• Wide-top Jar

Once the liquid is no longer bubbling and has darkened, it’s ready for the next process. Remove the cheesecloth or sackcloth and strain the contents to remove large chunks of the fruit. Once you’ve strained the contents, filter them through the cheesecloth in order to remove smaller particles. Once you’ve strained and filtered the contents, place the liquid in a wide-topped container. You’ll want the mixture to react with a lot of oxygen and need a large opening to do so. After you’re done, place a cheesecloth cover on top of the jar and store in a faintly lighted area.

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Storing the contents in a well-light area will prevent the alcohol turning to vinegar. This is also the time when you have to hope that the right bacteria are in the mixture.

The bacterium that reacts to make vinegar is prominent in our atmosphere but many times, in hot and humid areas, there are lots of other bacteria in the atmosphere which will ruin the concoction. You’ll want to keep an eye on the mixture and see if it changes. Maintain the temperature of the room as much as possible. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months.

Keep watching the mixture to see if a film begins to form on the surface. This brown-grey film is what is referred to as the Mother. If you see that film begin to form, you know that it’s working correctly. If you see the film, leave it alone and let the Mother do its work. When the mother sinks to the bottom, you’ll know it’s finished.

You can use the Mother in your next batch and add it to the mixture at the beginning of step 2 to get a jumpstart on your bacterial growth.

Storing Your Vinegar
Once the Mother has sunk to the bottom, strain the mixture through the cheesecloth until it reaches the desired strength that you’d like. Store the vinegar in a glass container and remember not to use a metal lid.

Lots of Options
The process of making vinegar has been around for thousands of years – thus, there are a lot of different ways to make it! We’ve also heard of people making honey vinegar, berry vinegars and using apple cider to create apple cider vinegar.

Comment below to tell us if you’ve made your own vinegar and how you did it. If you have any advice, share it with the Ready Nation and spread your knowledge.

You might also be interested in:
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Updated February 27, 2013

28 Comments

  1. SKGatton wrote:

    Good Article, I find it increasingly harder lately to find how to make things from absolute scratch. Thanks

    February 28th, 2013 at 7:58 am
  2. Toni Ellsworth wrote:

    Great article. I am interested in how to make WHITE vinegar. I use it for most of my cleaning.

    February 28th, 2013 at 9:48 am
  3. Bryan wrote:

    You can get a jump start on the process if you add a TSP of vinegar, like Braggs, that already contains the mother.

    February 28th, 2013 at 11:16 am
  4. karen wrote:

    Where do I get a glass jar without a metal lid?

    February 28th, 2013 at 8:34 pm
  5. Jmc wrote:

    There is another way where you use a fly s salvia in a jar that always creates what’s called the mother bacteria . U then pull this out n add it to water it will keep growing. Can then add with lye or alcohol or other fruits herbs to create smells n so. Look on YouTube

    February 28th, 2013 at 8:57 pm
  6. Monica wrote:

    Thanks for the tip about Braggs. I have in on hand all the time and hate the expense. I am looking forward to making my own!

    March 1st, 2013 at 5:06 am
  7. grambern wrote:

    Read thru this whole article including 20 uses and old comments. last night tried the one about a TBS of vinegar before bed for “leg cramps”. I get severe leg cramps so am anxious to try home remedies as OTC stuff does not work.
    Someone please tell me what I can dilute that one TBS of vinegar with because Apple juice was a nightmare!!! Like taking “castor oil” as a kid, never forget that taste!! Help!!!

    March 1st, 2013 at 10:35 am
  8. Lyn wrote:

    Recently I have started copying every recipe for basics like ketsup, etc. The main concern I have is water even though we live by small lakes and have snow, what about quick water for toilets, etc? We use a water bed so I thought why not get an extra one for the guest room and make a frame with lumber then put water gallon jugs and food in the frame to hide them. My main concern is people coming in and taking my food storage so I have to come up with ways to hide it. We also have a non-chemical hot tub so more water there. Appreciate any thoughts on these ideas.

    March 1st, 2013 at 10:46 am
  9. Kathy wrote:

    Try adding 1 tsp honey and 3 Tbsp water to the vinegar. It tastes more like cough syrup. My dad takes it every night.

    March 1st, 2013 at 2:47 pm
  10. Lloyd wrote:

    Just add a tbs of vinegar to about 8 oz of water. It is easy to drink when thus diluted.

    March 2nd, 2013 at 2:53 am
  11. Joy wrote:

    Thank your for a great article. I’ve often lamented wasting the scraps from canning my pears. I had often thought of juicing the peels because so much liquid is left in the bowl. But at the end a canning day I don’t feel like going into a juicing project. Now I will have a great use for all the scraps besides compost! I’m really looking forward to trying this.

    March 3rd, 2013 at 1:34 pm
  12. Yvette wrote:

    If you have a hard taking vinegar for cramps, use pickle juice it has vinegar in it and works just as good. !/4 – 1/2 cup ought to do the job. Also don’t drink caffeine after 4:00 PM.

    March 4th, 2013 at 11:57 am
  13. Faith wrote:

    I have found that taking a glass of electrolyte enhanced water about an hour before bedtime has virtually eliminated my muscle cramps. Thought this might help someone!

    March 5th, 2013 at 9:06 am
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    July 2nd, 2013 at 5:01 am
  15. Bev wrote:

    Add a Tbs of vinegar to a shot of V8 Juice is pretty good too.

    July 7th, 2013 at 2:42 pm
  16. Virginia wrote:

    Karen: Any store that carries canning supplies usually also carries the plastic lids to reseal opened jars with, they are available in regular mouth & wide mouth sizes.

    July 9th, 2013 at 8:21 am
  17. John R wrote:

    I have not made my own vinegar, but I have used the sugar and water mixture, with various fruits or vegetables, (being from Ky, I use corn), and I can suggest using distilled water to start.

    September 12th, 2013 at 7:02 am
  18. Charlotte wrote:

    How do you know what the acidity is? We need 5% for canning. It’s real important to have the correct acidity in canning. Can we get test strips?

    September 21st, 2013 at 9:04 am
  19. Dawn wrote:

    For leg cramps or hand cramps I use half a cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt in a mug. I lhen dip my cucumbers in it and use it that way. When I was a kid I would do a shot of apple cider vinegar every night before bed to get rid of cramps. Also if you eat a lot of bananas it helps because of the potassium content.

    September 21st, 2013 at 10:37 am
  20. Reid wrote:

    You can buy plastic lids for Mason jars at WalMart in the canning supply section

    September 21st, 2013 at 4:57 pm
  21. Adrienne wrote:

    For $3.98 you can buy two gallons of vinaigrette at Sam’s club. Unless you are doing this for fun it seems to me this is penny wise and pound foolish.

    September 22nd, 2013 at 5:22 am
  22. NC wrote:

    I am curious also to find out the actual acidity amount when the batch is done so how does one go about finding out?

    September 22nd, 2013 at 12:51 pm
  23. Peggy wrote:

    The reason I want to make my own vinegar is because I use
    Braggs organic and you only get about a pint for 5.99 and I
    Have organic apples to make applesauce with and skins and cores left.

    Why not use them for organic vinegar, I have nothing to lose.

    October 9th, 2013 at 12:35 pm
  24. mimi wrote:

    I’ve kept a batch of vineager going for years now (kind of like sourdough starter). I have two 3 liter, glass bottles, and when I get a yucky wine, in it goes. If I end up with a lot, I’ll make some herbed or spicy batches in little bottles (nice gifts, except the one I made with habaneros).

    Wire bale canning jars have no metal in contact with the contents, and I also have some of the tattler lids (reusable, plastic lids with a gasket) for my canning jars.

    October 13th, 2013 at 1:37 pm
  25. Regina wrote:

    Smart idea about pears! I have a Kieffer pear tree in the back that the pears rot off of because they are so hard. Pear vinegar is great stuff.

    January 16th, 2014 at 11:48 am
  26. Namejoanne wrote:

    regina have you tried canning the kieffer pears or ripening off the tree?

    April 28th, 2014 at 5:45 pm
  27. Angelcrest wrote:

    Thank you for the article & recipe. Will print & save for future use.

    For those looking for a way to check the acidity, try looking for PH Tape. Or a PH kit. The tape is available at most health food stores, kits are usually available from stores that sell aquariums. I am sure there are other stores that carry similar products; these are ones I am familiar with. I am sure if you searched online that many options would be available. Most are not expensive.

    Our Kieffer (Sand) pears never ripened on the tree. When they fell off, it would still take over a month before they were soft enough to cut to process. I finally bought the best juicer I could afford for processing those & pomegranates.

    October 20th, 2014 at 5:30 am
  28. Rooinek wrote:

    Good article but the point about not using metal containers when making or preparing food with vinegar should have been emphasized. The use of vinegar in copper containers creates a strong poison, copper acetate. Add salt to the mix and you then produce Hydrogen Chloride which is a gas that when dissolved in water is a strong and corrosive (hydrochloric acid) as well as sodium acetate. Hmmm!
    Stainless steel cookware is OK. Aluminum does react to acids, more so if salt is added to the mix; that is what gives acidic foods cooked in aluminum pots a metallic taste.

    October 20th, 2014 at 8:28 am

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