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Many cultures have a long history of making fruit vinegars, including strawberry, blueberry, fig, persimmon and pear. Pineapple is one of the most common vinegars in both Mexico and Central America, as well as in Southeast Asia. This recipe is easily scalable: just double or triple the ingredients. You can also make vinegar with just fruit scraps (peels and cores), but know that the flavor will be different if you’re not using the flesh.
Tip: You can make this recipe with many other flavoring agents as well; I’ve used both spruce tips and cantaloupe skins. Use the same proportions: 1/3 cup sugar to 4 cups of your product, and water to cover. If your fermentation doesn’t start after 3 days, add champagne yeast.
- 1 pound fresh fruit or fruit scraps (the peels, flesh, and/or cores), cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup live unpasteurized vinegar, such as homemade red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or store-bought
For the vinegar
To a ½ gallon mason jar, add the fruit and sugar. Add water to cover the fruit and pour in the starter vinegar. Cover the mouth of the vessel with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band to keep out pests.
Stir the mixture once a day for the first week, at which point the natural yeasts on the skins of the fruit will start to ferment the sugars into alcohol. Let the fruit ferment for another week, stirring occasionally. It should be bubbling lightly as the yeast ferments the sugars into ethanol and releases carbon dioxide.
Remove the cheesecloth, strain out and discard the solids, and add the liquid back to the jar to ferment into vinegar. Cover again with the cheesecloth.
Check the vinegar after 4 weeks (it may take up to 3 months to fully convert), taste the vinegar for acidity. Strain out the mother and bottle the vinegar, reserving the mother for another use. Start using the vinegar immediately, or age the vinegar for a year or more to mellow the flavors.
Begin a new batch with your mother, or give some of it away as a starter.