Vinegar is one of the most versatile things any prepper can have in their cabinet, but let’s face the truth….if the country collapses will you have access to store bought vinegar? NO…. So knowing what it takes to make your own vinegar is a huge asset and will help you preserve food and clean your house.
So society collapses and the stores are all cleaned out. One item that can help you out is vinegar. With access to fresh fruits and vegetables you will still be able to make your own vinegar and do everything from pickle foods to clean your windows.
The process of making vinegar is actually not that difficult. In fact it’s one of the easiest staple items you can make and can add a certain level of OMG!!!! to any food you make. Homemade vinegar’s tend to have a fresh taste to it that cannot be found in modern manufactured vinegar’s. Hey let’s not forget the health benefits that vinegar offers as well. For as long as vinegar has been around people have used it as an antifungal and antibacterial control agent.
Like I said making vinegar is actually an easy process. Searching the internet can provide you with several processes to make it at home and with little effort on your part using food items that you might have normally discarded. One of the best recipes that I found is posted right here for you.
Find these items:
- Find or purchase a glass jar, crock or enamelware pot.
- Cheesecloth or kitchen towel that can cover the container. Cheesecloth tends to work best.
- Twine, Rubber bands or other way to secure the cheesecloth or towel to your container.
- Fresh peelings from organic raised fruits or vegetables: Apples are one of the most commonly used fruits for cider and a good choice for those just starting out making their own vinegar.
- Distilled water. Tap water from municipal sources contain chemicals that will interfere with the process.
- A warm and dark space to store your vinegar while it ferments and makes it change.
Once you have found the items above the next steps are to put them all together to make your wonderful homemade vinegar.
- Sterilize your container in boiling water. You can submerse your container in boiling water or pour boiling water in your container, but either way you need to leave it in the boiling water for at least 5 minutes to kill any bacteria.
- Grind up your fruit or vegetable peelings and press them through your cheese cloth or kitchen towel capturing the juice in your container. Note: it takes 20 pounds of apples to make one gallon of usable juice. When using apples the cores can be used for juicing as well.
- Next place the juice and ground up peels and cores in the container together and cover with distilled water. Cover the container with cheesecloth or a kitchen towel. This will keep our any unwanted insects or dirt and we all know how that will end when that happens. The reason for using cheesecloth or a towel is to allow natural bacteria and wild yeast that is found in the air to colonize in the mash which promote the fermentation process. Beer yeast or wine can be added to the mash to promote the fermentation process, but this is not a necessary part of the process and is more a personal choice than a necessary step.
- Now place the container in a dark area that is maintained at a constant temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Important: Make sure to stir the mash once per day. This makes sure that the fermentation process reaches all of your juice.
In a few weeks you will notice the smell of vinegar coming from the mash. Allow the mash to ferment until it reaches the strength you are seeking. Most vinegar’s take approximately 3 to 4 weeks. Remember to taste the mixture at this point and allow to ferment until you achieve the desired flavor you want.
At this point you should see what is called “the mother.” This is a slimy, gummy almost jelly like substance or film that will make the vinegar cloudy in appearance and forms on the bottom or top of the vinegar. This is what gives your vinegar its sour taste.
Filter the mother out with your cheesecloth or a coffee filter and save it for your next batch of vinegar. It can be used like a starter is used in making certain breads like sourdough. These starters can be several years to even hundreds of years old.
First time vinegar makers might consider using mother starters purchased locally or online or even placing a half cup of organic unfiltered vinegar to the mixture to promote the process.
The final process is to filter your vinegar mash into bottles for storage in a dark, cool place and used as any other vinegar would be.
Note: Different ingredients give cider a wholly distinct flavor and smell. Peaches will give it a fruitier and more mellow taste for example. Experimentation is the key to getting the taste and smell you want.
An important thing to remember is that storing your homemade vinegar for longer than a few months at room temperature will require you to pasteurize it at a temperature of 170 degrees F for 10 minutes. Using a thermometer to ensure the proper temperature is important. Next place the pasteurized liquid in a tightly sealed container in a dark, cool place. Direct sunlight is your vinegar’s enemy.
Something else that is important is that the acidity of homemade vinegar’s can vary making them unsuitable for canning and preserving food. Vinegar used for preserving or pickling must have the correct acidity or else you risk food poisoning. Homemade vinegar’s weaken over time and can allow bacteria and other pathogens such as E. coli to form. Your homemade vinegar is good for salad dressings, marinades, cooking or pickling items that are stored in a refrigerated area.
No matter what you decide to use to make your vinegar just make sure you have fun and experiment with the aroma and flavor. This is what makes having your own homemade vinegar’s so much fun.
Tip: Place some colored homemade vinegar in a decorative bottle with fruits or vegetables to make a fancy inexpensive table top decoration.
If you would like more information on making vinegar’s you can find several videos on making homemade vinegar in our food preparation category at Preppers Videos.