After our wedding in 2009, we had a few bottles of bubbly left over. Some were enjoyed. Some were forgotten.
The forgotten ones weren’t stored properly, so the wine wasn’t exactly the most appetizing to drink. Then it hit me: wine vinegar costs a ridiculous amount of money. I have 3 bottles of champagne… so why not make my own homemade champagne vinegar?
DIY vinegar is about as easy as it gets—and you save heaps of money over the over-priced wine vinegars in the grocery store. Here’s how.
Making homemade vinegar
Making vinegar is pretty simple. You need…
- An alcoholic beverage (such as beer, champagne or wine)
- A large glass or ceramic container (such as a pickling crock or quart mason jar), that can be covered with a breathable barrier (such as cheesecloth)
- A “vinegar mother” (we’ll get to that)
The majority of vinegar-making is waiting. Vinegar is made by the bacteria Acetobacter, which eats alcohol and turns it into acetic acid, or vinegar. The process can take 2-6 months.
Put the booze in the container, and add the mother. Speaking of…
Getting vinegar mother
A “vinegar mother” is the term commonly used to describe a mass of Acetobacter. “A weird blob” is another commonly used phrase, as vinegar mother often has a weird, floppy-blobby-slimy look to it. Not always, but often.
Here’s how to get vinegar mother:
- Buy a bottle of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar (this is what I did). Available at many health/natural food stores and supermarkets, Bragg ACV is raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized, so it contains the mother (typical store-bought vinegars are pasteurized, so the Acetobacter has all been killed).
- Buy vinegar mother online. Leeners and The Cellar Homebrew are 2 online sources for purchasing vinegar mother and other supplies.
- Ask a vinegar-maker. If you know someone or know someone who knows someone who makes vinegar, ask them if you can have some of their vinegar mother.
Cover the container so there’s airflow, but insects or dust won’t get in.
Wait. Check the vinegar occasionally and a give a taste. You’ll know when it tastes like vinegar.
Once the vinegar is ready, you have some options. You can filter the vinegar to remove the mother and clarify it (so far, I haven’t bothered with this step). You can also pasteurize the vinegar if you want. Regardless, vinegar is shelf-stable as-is and will keep a long, long time.
We’re using our pale-orange champagne vinegar in salad dressings and as dips for bread. The flavor is bright and fun, and we’ll be making more homemade vinegar for ourselves and as gifts.
A quick note on canning: we won’t be using this vinegar for canning, unless we can verify its acidity.