Homemade vinegar is full of nuances and flavors absent from most store-bought bottles. And, it’s simple to make!
While you can make vinegar from a variety of base ingredients, I’m going to cover how to make fresh homemade strawberry vinegar. The end result is a mix of sweet, tart, and fruity; a combination that works great in salad dressings and sauces.
What is Vinegar?
Vinegar is the product of fermentation, specifically the fermentation of alcohol. If you’ve ever experienced a sour bottle of wine, you know what I’m talking about.
While you may not be a chemistry whiz, the basic science behind production is easy to understand.
Technically, vinegar is the result of a two-part fermentation process. In the first step, yeasts convert carbohydrates, such as those in fruit or grains, into alcohol. In the second step, a specific type of bacteria calledAcetobacter ferment the alcohol into acetic acid. This acid gives vinegar its sour taste.
What do I Need to Make Vinegar at Home?
Vinegar is quite simple to make and only requires a few ingredients and tools. To get started you need the following:
- Low-grade alcohol (wine, hard cider, champagne) OR a carbohydrate source (juice, fruit, grain, etc.)
- Vinegar mother OR unfiltered vinegar
- Large wide-mouth glass jar
How to Make Strawberry Vinegar
Although there are different ways to make strawberry vinegar, I’m going to cover a method that utilizes fresh berries. This method produces a product that captures the vibrant flavor of spring fruit.
Make the Alcohol
To begin, place 2-4 cups of strawberries in your glass jar. It’s fine to use the scraps from the tops of the strawberries, as well as any soft spots. However, avoid using any moldy spots, since they can impart an off flavor into the final product. Gently mash the berries until some juices are released.
Next, dissolve 1/2 cup of sugar in one quart of water. Pour this solution over the strawberries and stir. Cover the jar with cheesecloth and place it in a warm, dark area.
All areas have natural yeasts, so the ones present in your area will enter through the cheesecloth. Once they do so, they’ll start converting the sugars into alcohol. All you have to do is stir the jar each day and check for any surface molds. If you see any mold, remove it. After 10 days, strain out the solids.
Ferment into Vinegar
Now you have unfiltered strawberry wine. At this point, you’re ready to introduce Acetobacter.
For this step, you have two options. You can add a vinegar mother or add 1/4 cup of unfiltered vinegar, such as Bragg apple cider vinegar. At this point, recover the jar with cheesecloth and place it back in a warm, dark place.
Check the jar every day for any molds or off smells. The solution should smell fruity and boozy in the beginning, and eventually, it will smell sour. However, don’t stir the liquid, as this can disrupt the formation of the mother.
Speaking of the mother…don’t be alarmed when a rubbery pancake starts to appear on the surface of your liquid! This is the mother, and although it may look a little scary, it’s essential to the vinegar making process.
After two weeks, you can begin tasting your vinegar in the making. When it tastes sour like vinegar, it’s ready!
Strain out the mother and reserve it for future batches. Store the mother by covering it in a bit of vinegar or sugar water.
If you like, you can use cheesecloth to filter out any sediment from your vinegar. At this point, store your vinegar in an airtight container.
A Taste of Spring
Vinegar keeps for over a year, so you can revisit the flavors of spring all year long. Once you’ve mastered strawberry vinegar, you can try making other vinegar out of fruits like peaches and apples. With a pantry full of fruit vinegar, your salads will never be boring again!
If you liked my post on home strawberry vinegar make sure to check out my post on spring peas!