You can brew vinegar from fermentable sugars or fermentable alcohol. For example, apple cider will become apple cider vinegar if exposed to air. Exposing fruit juice or alcohol to oxygen allows for the possibility that acetic acid bacteria (AAB) may colonize the liquid. AAB metabolize ethanol into acetic acid or vinegar. The AAB will form a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) or mother of vinegar. A mother of vinegar is not necessary for producing vinegar. If AAB are alive and present under the proper conditions, then vinegar will develop. Proper conditions include:
- A large surface area of sugary liquid exposed to air
- Good air circulation
- A temperature range from 59 to 94 ℉
- Location out of the path of direct sunlight
- The presence of fruit flies to carry the acetobacter bacteria needed to make vinegar
How to Brew Fruit Vinegar
- Centrifugal Juicer
- 1 Gallon size fermentation vessel with wide mouth
- 8 Cups fruit juice (or crushed fruit & peels if you don’t have/desire a juicer)
- 1/2 Cup organic cane sugar
- 1 Cup raw vinegar (to inoculate the new batch & quicken the fermentation the process)
- Process the fruit to obtain fruit juice. Discard any excess solids. Beginning the fermentation process with pure fruit juice will help to create a vinegar with a clean flavor profile. (If you are brewing using crushed fruit, then see step 8 below.)
- Dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 1 cup hot water. Let cool to room temperature.
- Add 8 cups of fruit juice to the fermentation vessel. Choose a vessel that is roughly as wide as it is tall. This will ensure that the vinegar has sufficient surface area to allow wild acetic acid bacteria to colonize the brew.
- Pour the sugary fruit mix into a glass, ceramic, or wooden wide-mouthed vessel or bowl. Cover with a cloth to keep ants and flies away. Label and date the vessel.
- Be sure that the vinegar solution fills the vessel no more than halfway. This allows for the proper surface area to volume ratio necessary to attract wild acetobacter aceti.
- Place the vessel to ferment in a warm and dark location. Be sure to stir the mixture frequently–at least a few times every day until active bubbling takes place.
- Once actively bubbling, strain out solid fruit, if any is used, and introduce the raw apple cider vinegar if you choose.
- Allow to ferment in a glass, ceramic, or wooden wide-mouthed vessel or bowl. Cover with a cloth to keep ants and flies away. Allow to ferment for another 2-4 weeks.
- After about 2 weeks, smell and taste the mixture to determine if any alcohol remains. If so, allow the mixture to ferment a bit longer.
- Once you determine that the solution is done fermenting, bottle the vinegar. Choose small, narrow neck green or amber glass bottles.
- You now have raw vinegar. Label & date your bottles & store in the refrigerator to continue to age & allow subtle flavors to develop.
- If you would like to pasteurize your vinegar to make it more shelf-stable, then you may heat the vinegar to 140℉ before bottling. Be careful not to heat to 160 ℉ or the acetic acid will evaporate and ruin the vinegar.
If you choose to brew vinegar using crushed fruit, follow these steps:
- Crush or finely chop the fruit.
- Mix in 1/4 cup organic cane sugar for every 4 cups of fruit.
- Place mashed fruit and sugar in a mason jar. Cover with a cheesecloth.
- Allow to ferment for a few days. Once you notice that bubbling and activity slows down, strain the liquid from the solid fruit.
- Place liquid into a clean mason jar and allow to ferment until the smell of alcohol dissipates and the juice begins to smell like vinegar.
- At this point you can begin to taste the vinegar and bottle when it has reached a flavor that you enjoy.
We have had great success brewing fruit vinegars here at Gingerhill Farm. We have made vinegar from banana, starfruit, papaya and cane juice. Currently we have a batch of jaboticaba vinegar brewing. Fermentation is an incredible alchemical process that helps us to preserve the abundant harvest of the land, thus enabling us to be more self sufficient. Leave us a comment and let us know if you try this recipe!
- “Vinegar.” The Noma Guide to Fermentation, by René Redzepi et al., Artisan, 2018, pp. 158–169.