Ahem, I’m not really sure how to express how wonder-filled I find this vinegar-making business, but I feel like a unicorn just farted. Although, I am easily bedazzled.
This post is meant to be a part of our building a beautiful life series and it kind of still is. If you’re curious, the previous cost cutting post is a good place to start on this whole adventure.
One of the little ironies I’m discovering on this adventure is the number of times cutting costs improves our quality of life. Sometimes, I stumble on something that is even easier and better than a bought one. How to make vinegar is one of those, my friends. The vinegar you make with wine you’re prepared to drink will be far tastier drop.
I realise the process of making vinegar sounds weird. I know, because when I first read about it in Matthew Evans’ The Gourmet Farmer it all sounded too easy to be true. What do you mean you just pour wine dregs in and vinegar comes out? It sounded like something better left to unicorns, but then I read about it in Save with Jamie and Sandor Katz’s Art of Fermentation and thought I’d better get my unicorn saddle out and give it a whirl.
Yup, it’s easy. Seriously, the only difficult part is finding a container, but even that I managed to make more difficult for myself than it needed to be.
Choosing a container
In an ideal world filled with freshly plucked flower petals, you need to use a vinegar crock, but really any glass or ceramic jar that doesn’t have a metal lid is fine.
Vinegar doesn’t like metal and metal doesn’t like vinegar, they have a mutual loathing. From what I understand vinegar corrodes metal and the metal kills the vinegar’s mother. Yes, it’s all a bit Shakespearean sounding.
I could’ve of used one of these jars (without the rubber seals), because the vinegar and metal don’t have to touch each other, but that didn’t occur to me…
Instead, I used a pretty Japanese container (I blame Pinterest), but it had a fatal flaw. A leetle hole in the lid. This provided an excellent launch pad for the fruit fly to kamikaze through. See that little hole in the lid…
Okay, so make that any glass or ceramic jar that doesn’t have a metal lid and definitely, no holes.
Beating the fruit fly
This brings me to the next discovery – fruit flies are bandits for vinegar. In summer, I keep the vinegar in a cupboard, behind closed doors, with a bag over it, if need be. Another way to do it is to make vinegar during the winter and bottle it all up for the summer months.
The mother of all vinegars
Like all good things in this world, vinegar has a mother and that mother is the weird cloudy, gritty looking thing at the bottom of the bottle (sounds like another mother I know…) Despite haggard appearances this is the goodness.
Leftover wine, what’s that?
And for those of you wondering if you’ll ever have left over wine, you might be surprised. I didn’t think we ever did, but it turns out those little dregs at the bottom of a bottle can amount to quite a lot of vinegar over the year. Although, I confess our white wine and apple cider vinegar production is a lot slower, because it doesn’t have the same amount of dregs… Well, that’s the story I’m sticking to.
This recipe is a combination of Matthew Evans’ The Gourmet Farmer, Jamie Oliver’s Save with Jamie and Sandor Katz’s Art of Fermentation all of which I would recommend anyone interested in this stuff.
The recipe is for red wine vinegar, but I used the same process to make the white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
- Glass or ceramic jar or bottle with a non-metal lid and no holes
- Last quarter of a bottle of unpasteurised apple cider vinegar
- Half a bottle of leftover red wine
- Pour the vinegar and wine into the jar together, leave alone for three or so weeks and the vinegar will be ready to use.
- Pour or scoop vinegar out with a non-metal spoon and use.
- Continue to top up with wine. At this point, we continue to use the vinegar after topping up, but the alcohol may not have fermented by then, so this is something you’ll need to consider.
- Bottle up excess with a pretty tag and give to unsuspecting guests.