Make Your Own Vinegar

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:10 am on Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Last October, someone left a bottle of cheap red wine at my house. It was too gross to drink. I thought of freezing it or cooking with it, but there was too much of it for that. And yet I didn’t want to pour it down the drain, in part because this is hardly the first time this has happened to me. For some reason, I often end up with cheap bottles of wine that no one wants to drink.

Then it occurred to me: since I had a free source of wine, why not turn it into a free source of vinegar instead?

I looked up making vinegar and discovered it takes is something called Mother of Vinegar. This is a bacteria that eats the alcohol and converts it to vinegar.

There are different mothers for different vinegars–in this case, because I had red wine, I would need a red wine mother. You can make vinegar without the Mother of Vinegar (more on that in a moment), but it takes longer. I purchased Mother of Vinegar from a local hobby store for $8. You can also buy it online.

To make the vinegar, I combined 2 cups of wine, 1 cup of water, and the mother in a sterilized 5-gallon jar. Then, because the vinegar needs air to convert, I covered it with a cheesecloth and a rubber band to keep the dirt out, like so:

I stored it in a dark place for three months. At the end of that time, I had vinegar.

Over the three months the Mother of Vinegar had turned into this weird, gel-like stuff that you can reuse to make more vinegar. So after I decanted the exiting vinegar, I added more cheap red wine and started a second batch.

Here are the pros of making your own vinegar:

* It tastes better.
The homemade vinegar has a rich depth of flavor that is remarkable considering the cheapness of the wine. It will be great in cooking, salad dressings, and anything else that calls for vinegar.

* It’s easy. Combine everything in a clean jar, cover, and wait. Simple.

* I have a never-ending supply of vinegar
. I can keep making vinegar for as long as I want–all I have to do is keep adding more wine, waiting three months, and decanting.

* It’s frugal. I paid $8 for the Mother and everything else I used was free. Considering that I can reuse the Mother, it will quickly pay for itself. Even if you don’t have a regular source of free wine like I do, wine can be bought for as low as $2.

I was so pleased with my red wine vinegar, I decided to make apple cider vinegar, this time without buying the mother. A friend had an old bottle of apple cider vinegar with bits of naturally formed Mother floating around in it. I combined it with homemade apple cider and put it in a jar with cheesecloth over the lid.

In a couple of months, we’ll see if I have apple cider vinegar too.

Here’s a video on making vinegar that shows you the Mother of Vinegar. I like that the woman reuses the wine bottle–I wish I had thought of that.


Comment by Kim at Curtain Queen

January 8, 2013 @ 11:10 am

Awesome!! Can’t wait to try this. The video was very helpful, too. :-)

Comment by Evelyn

January 8, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

What a wonderful use of leftover wine. I read that champagne vinegar can be made in a similar way.

Comment by Mike B

January 16, 2013 @ 12:01 am

Of course, you could make you’re own alcohol too!

Vinegar is made by the process of a bacteria known as Acetobacter aceti (“A. aceti” for short) turning alcohol into acid. The specific kind of acid that it produces is called acetic acid.
If you look at a store purchased bottle of vinegar it will usually say something like “5% acetic acid.”

The “Mother of vinegar” that is spoken of is a biofilm made by the bacteria. The bacteria attach themselves to the biofilm as an anchoring point. This is why you can transfer the film from one solution to the next and “re-use” it.

So anything that can become alcohol can also become vinegar.

Comment by Ms. Savvy

January 17, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

Mike B. Thanks–interesting to know.

Comment by V

January 23, 2013 @ 10:09 am

So… Would allowing wine to sit open (covered, to keep out contaminants) for a long period of time, give you vinegar?

Comment by Savvy Housekeeper

January 23, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

V. I’ve tried that with champagne, and it worked. Cover the mouth with a cheesecloth so dirt doesn’t get in it. It takes a long time.

Comment by Trina

May 5, 2013 @ 9:52 am

Whaaaat?!? I’ve wondered how to make vinegar. Who knew it was so crazy easy!

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July 15, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

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January 2, 2014 @ 9:35 am

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Comment by Katrina

February 13, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

My sister also loved the scoops pointed out in this article.

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