Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Making real vinegar

Last year I started some basil vinegar, using ruby basil and Bragg's apple cider vinegar. Neglected over the fall, winter and spring months in my cupboard, it developed 2 lovely thick layers of "mother" which can now be used to make more real vinegar from wine. There's a BIG difference in real vinegar vs. the chemically-laden distilled vinegar at the store (although I do buy and use that as a disinfectant).

2 weeks ago, I strained off the lovely pink vinegar, and covered the mother with about half a bottle of left-over white wine I had on hand to keep it from drying out. That has already turned pink (shown above),  meaning it will probably carry some of the basil taste when the alcohol in the wine turns into acetic acid (vinegar). Who needs that much ruby basil vinegar? Well, there are always occasions for homemade gifts!

I have some raspberry wine I made in a 3 gallon carboy 2 years ago (and is still in the carboy) and I'm thinking to put some of that in mason jars, adding a piece of the "basil" flavored mother, hoping that the 2nd round of the mother in white wine will have diluted the basil flavor, or is at least over-ridden by the raspberry flavor.

I also grew some mother in a mason jar of apple cores and peels in water over the winter, using no ACV starter. Those nasty little fruit flies develop what's called acetobacter that make acetic acid (vinegar). That batch is cloudy but smells/tastes okay, and should be a good mother to make more real vinegar.

In the last 3 weeks I have taken shortcuts to making flavored vinegars, mainly for salads or to splash on cooked vegetables. I use organic champagne vinegar as the base, and steep various herbs or fruits in it. The Provençal vinegar (rosemary and thyme sprigs, fresh orange and lemon peel and a garlic clove), smells the best but it needs to steep another month before use.

The other recent flavored vinegars I just made with a champagne vinegar base are chive blossom vinegar, tarragon vinegar, and regular basil vinegar.

I just ordered more organic champagne vinegar from a winery in California, but it is quite expensive, more costly than a decent wine. Walmart sells a cheap bottled wine for $2.97, and only the alcohol portion is necessary to make real vinegar since the wine taste doesn't metter.  

So, I'm really hoping I can convert more of my various homemade fruit wines to vinegar using my "newly grown" mother. I don't drink anymore, but I do use EVOO and vinegars on my salads. I don't buy salad dressings at the store anymore... too many fake ingredients not good for my health.


  1. I do wish we lived closer and could work together on these sorts of projects. I've been contemplating making vinegar here, as there's an excess of apples and I have a press that's never been used. But I'm hesitant to put a lot of energy into something I have no clue about doing, for at least the first time.

    Your vinegar projects are highly encouraging for me. :))

  2. Thank you for the inspiration! I should get started on some wine vinegars, because you are correct - they'd make some great gifts!

  3. Do you have specific directions on your blog to make vinegar? I've never tried, but it sounds like something I would enjoy.

    1. Not yet, but I'll be glad to ost one in a few days, after I finish making peach chutney.


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