How to make apple cider vinegar

Make apple cider vinegar at home using apple cider. Use organic apples if possible, as you are going to use the apple peels too.

This Fall I tried three different methods for making apple cider vinegar at home.   All three were equally successful.  One way took longer than the others, but the final apple cider vinegar was superior and contained more of the apple goodness.  I will give you the method to make apple cider vinegar at home using apple cider in this article.

make apple cider vinegar

Health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has a huge pile of health benefits that include weight-loss, stabilizing blood pressure, control of blood sugar levels, help for arthritis and joint pain, and relief of constipation and IBS.  Those who benefit from apple cider vinegar incorporate apple cider vinegar into their diet 2 to 4 times a day.  That’s amounts to a large 32-ounce bottle every week at the cost of almost $10 per quart including shipping.  If you use 3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar before each meal, you can save $10 per week or $520 per year, by making your own vinegar from waste apples, apple peelings, and cores, or homemade apple cider.  And that’s just the savings on the vinegar.  Imagine the savings on health care costs and pharmaceuticals.

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Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic Raw Unflavoured 32oz

Most health food stores carry Braggs brand of apple cider vinegar, which is highly recommended because it is made from organic apples and contains the naturally occurring vinegar mother.

Apple pressing time. Make apple cider vinegar at home using apple cider and organic apples

Making apple cider vinegar at home in 2 easy steps

Make apple cider vinegar at home using apple cider. Use organic apples if possible, as you are going to use the apple peels too.

Making apple cider vinegar at home is a two-step process.  In the first step the naturally occurring yeasts, present on the skins of the apples, turn the raw apple cider into hard cider or apple wine.  If you are using pasteurized apple cider you will need to add some wine yeast to get the process started — you can use champagne yeast or yeast for white wine.  Don’t use bread yeast.  (mix the wine yeast with some water and wait till it bubbles, before adding half to each wide mouth jar containing apple cider.)

If you are starting with raw apple cider, simply pour the apple cider from the glass jug into a clean, sterilized, wide mouth 2 quart/litre canning jar.  Two of these jars will hold the apple cider from 1 gallon.  You don’t need to add wine yeast if you are starting with raw, unpasteurized apple cider.  The naturally occurring yeasts already present on the skins of the apples will ferment the cider for you.

Cover the jars with a clean cotton handkerchief.  I secure the tissue on the jars using a metal jar ring.  You can use a rubber band, instead.  Some recipes say to use cheesecloth to allow vinegar fruit flies into the mixture.  They will crawl through the cheesecloth and lay their eggs in your fermenting cider.  EWWWW!  No thanks.  You don’t need the hit and miss additions of fruit fly bacteria for your self-sufficiency efforts.  Go with the clean handkerchief, and you won’t have any fruit fly dung or larva in your finished ACV.

The first step in making apple cider vinegar at home is the fermentation stage, where wine yeasts turn the apple cider into hard apple cider or apple wine.  Your apple cider will bubble during this stage, and you will see the formation of fine bubbles on the side of the jar.  If you jostle the jar, the bubbles will rise to the top.  The apple cider will smell like unfinished, harsh wine.  Leave it to work until the bubbling stops.  That indicates that most of the natural sugars (fructose) that are present in the cider have been converted to alcohol.

During this stage the jar may overflow, so keep it on a towel in your cupboard or on your windowsill.  You don’t want to be cleaning up sticky juice off your cabinets and counters.

Save the SCOBY!

Make apple cider vinegar at home using apple cider. Save the scoby from your homemade apple cider vinegar

Taste your DIY apple cider vinegar.  Does it taste as you expect?  It will mellow with age, but it should taste sour, but not metallic or bitter.  If you like the taste, save your SCOBY in a glass jar, covered with 1/2 inch of the vinegar.  Keep it in the fridge for your next batch.

Now pour off the vinegar from your jars into glass bottles.  I just washed and reused my empty Braggs bottles.  They are already labeled.  I left the sludge at the bottom of the jars, along with any poorly formed scobies.  Wash the jars later.  I poured the vinegar off into clean glass bottles and capped.  The vinegar will improve in flavour if you let it age a few months like wine it develops over time.  Some of the harshness will be removed in the aging process, and the flavour will get smoother.  But you can use it right away, without aging if you want to.

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Make apple cider vinegar at home using apple cider. Use organic apples if possible, as you are going to use the apple peels too.

Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe Price Breakdown

I don’t assign a price to water in my recipes, and since apple scraps are usually discarded, this vinegar costs just $.30 to make, or $.10 a cupThat’s less than a penny per tablespoon.  It’s a wonderful flavor on salad and a helpful digestive aid.

how-to-make-coconut-milk-600

Check out my homemade coconut milk for another great affordable DIY recipe!

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Why Make Vinegar?

Vinegar is easy to find at most stores and inexpensive to buy. So why make it yourself? Because the taste is recognizably better than purchased vinegar.

Plus, YOU made it. Isn’t that the best part? Some say it’s a great way to use up wine which does not get consumed (that seems an oxymoron to me; ‘wine’ ‘not consumed’).

Vinegar making can be done continuously so a fresh supply is always available.

Wine glass with homemade red wine vinegar with vinegar container in the background

Vinegar Making Supplies: Everything You’ll Need to Make Your Own Vinegar

  • 1 gallon wide-mouth glass jar preferably with a metal spigot (can be larger than 1 gallon). NOTE: must be glass or ceramic crock; plastic with interact chemically with the vinegar.
  • Cheesecloth and rubber bands
  • A vinegar ‘mother’ (see Where To Buy below)
  • The liquid to convert into vinegar (sulfite-free organic red wine if making red wine vinegar or hard cider if making apple cider vinegar; you can also make white wine vinegar through the same process)

How to Make Red Wine Vinegar: Can Any Wine be Used?

Sulfite-free organic wine is required for making red wine vinegar. Sulfites can impede the conversion process so low or no sulfite wine should be used.

Sulfite-free red wine in bottle used for how to make vinegar

The wine I have used for my red wine vinegar.

How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar: Can it be made with regular Apple Cider?

Hard apple cider is used to make apple cider vinegar. The alcohol content is needed for the vinegar conversion.

Homemade apple cider vinegar jar with vinegar mother

Overhead view of the mature Apple Cider vinegar ‘mother’

The Vinegar ‘Mother’

This name has always evoked memories of Sigourney Weaver in the movie Alien when she confronts ‘THE MOTHER’, the oozy, dripping, teeth-gnashing alien giant. A vinegar mother isn’t much prettier.

What Is a ‘Vinegar Mother’?

The vinegar mother is a mass of bacteria which serves to convert the liquid into vinegar. Also called a Scoby, which is an acronym for “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast”.

When you begin to make vinegar, the vinegar mother is an innocuous mucoidal blob which you put in the jar with the liquid.

PRO TIP: You’ll need a vinegar type-specific mother; they are different depending on whether you are making apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar.

Over time the mother grows to make an opaque thin layer on the top of the liquid. Each time you add more liquid (referred to as ‘feeding the mother’) it usually dislodges the vinegar mother and a new one will grow (see photo below).

When your vinegar batch is mature, you can even give part of your vinegar mother to a friend with some of the vinegar and they can start a batch of their own. I’ve heard tell of people (all of them in France) who have been working with the same vinegar mother for 20 years.

Vinegar mothers in a jar of homemade apple cider vinegar

Layers of vinegar mothers in a jar of homemade apple cider vinegar

How to Make Vinegar at Home Step by Step

Making vinegar at home is basically the same whether you want to know how to make apple cider vinegar or how to make red wine vinegar. They share similar steps using different liquids.

How To Make Vinegar Step 1: Preparation Before Starting

  • Decide where you’ll keep your vinegar. It should be a place where it can stay (the vinegar mother doesn’t respond well to being moved; it can become dislodged and discontinue making vinegar).
  • It will need warmth (70-80 degrees is ideal), darkness and good air circulation.

A personal lesson about the container placement:

I started mine in December when it’s cold in Colorado. I put it up on the highest shelf in my laundry room which was good for warmth. I wrapped a hand towel around the jar and fastened it with clips to keep it dark (a great TRICK when not having a dark area for the vinegar making). It was too close to the ceiling however and was not getting enough air circulation.

It began to smell like acetone (which I’ve also read is part of the process but not having had that happen since I’d say it’s not good). I brought the jars down lower and they recovered fine. The cheesecloth, which you’ll put on the top of the jar opening, allows circulation and keeps things (fruit flies) out.

How to Make Vinegar Step 2: Sterilize your jar with hot water (not boiling) and drain

Check that the spigot is functioning properly before beginning.  Because the conversion process is ongoing, you’ll be ‘feeding the mother’ (adding additional liquid to convert to vinegar) regularly.

The converted vinegar will be at the bottom of the jar and the liquid in process of converting on the top. The spigot allows you to drain completed vinegar out the bottom for use and not disrupt the vinegar mother(s) by pouring out the top of the jar.

How to Make Vinegar Step 3: Adding liquid 

The vinegar mother container will have instructions about the initial liquid to add.

For the red wine vinegar, I added 16 ounces of organic sulfite free (that’s the hook; you want to use low or no sulfite wine as sulfites can impede the conversion process) red wine combined with 8 ounces of water and pour it into the jar (too high an alcohol content can also impede the process so it needs to be diluted). Then add the red wine vinegar mother.

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For apple cider vinegar add a bottle (22 ounces) of organic hard cider and the apple cider vinegar mother.

Cheesecloth covering the top of a jar of apple cider vinegar as part of how to make vinegar

How to Make Vinegar Step 4: Covering the Vinegar Jar with Cheesecloth

The final step, for either vinegar type, put the cheesecloth (I recommend 2-3 layers) securing it with rubber bands. It needs to be enough to disallow fruit flies from entering the vinegar container but not so much it blocks air circulation (see more below in Troubleshooting).

How Do You Know the Vinegar is Done?

By tasting it. You will also smell the vinegar. It’s not very strong but notable.

The vinegar may be left in the container and the amount needed drawn via the spigot per use. Some people prefer to drain a full batch, pasteurize it by heating it and bottling it.

You can infuse it with herbs as well (in a container separate from the main batch). Recipes like Homemade Cranberry Vinegar which uses apple cider vinegar (this recipe also comes with free printable gift tags when giving it as gifts) are another fun way to use your homemade vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar in carafe with apples

Vinegar Making: Troubleshooting Potential Issues and Solutions

Fruit Flies

Depending on time of year and where you live, fruit flies may come to visit. They love vinegar.

SOLUTION: Three layers of cheesecloth, tightly secured to the jar opening will keep them out. I had a mass visitation this past fall and resorted to putting out small bowls with a bit of vinegar and a drop of dish soap in them which did the trick.

Proper Air Circulation

While the process is beginning really pay attention to the conditions where you are keeping the vinegar and the smell. If you get an acetone smell, check to ensure you are getting enough air circulation.

SOLUTION: Gently move the vinegar container to an area with better air circulation. Moving may dislodge the vinegar mother but another one will grow.

Evaporation

I’m not sure this is really an issue but something to watch and prompt feeding the vinegar mother. I noted when decloaking my red wine vinegar for photos a ‘recession line’ where I noted evaporation.

I had not added liquid for awhile as it was winter though it was dry and the heat had been running raising the room temperature.

SOLUTION: Keep a watch on the liquid line and add more liquid if needed.

Homemade red wine vinegar in jar and container for the vinegar mother

The container/brand of my red wine vinegar mother and evidence of evaporation inside the vinegar jar (note the area above the liquid where prior liquid has receded)

Vinegar Making Supplies: WHERE TO BUY

The Vinegar Mother (or ‘starter’)

On Amazon.com you can find both red wine vinegar mothers and apple cider vinegar mothers as well as others I have not made yet myself; malt vinegar mother, white wine vinegar mother and rice wine vinegar mother.

Beer brewing and wine making shops usually sell them too. Since originally writing this post I’ve seen them in natural food stores too.

Glass Jars

My first vinegar making jar was a gift stemming from reading an article in Savuer. It is from an infusion jar maker and was about $50.

There are many glass jars that work well for this purpose online too. I like this 1-gallon glass jar from Amazon.com because it is smaller yet still has plenty of room for making vinegar batches (often the jars are multiple gallon sizes which is far more volume than is needed).

Metal Spigots

I prefer metal spigots such as this metal spigot , which can be retrofitted onto a glass jar that might be originally fitted with a plastic spigot.

Brick and mortar shopping: I purchased a jar at World Market for $19 (Pier 1 usually has them too) and it has served me well (note: this is the same jar now available via the link to Amazon.com which ships free via Amazon Prime; often these jars are considered ‘seasonal’ in physical stores and might not be available all year round).

To check them in my photos the more expensive jar has the red wine vinegar in it and the World Market jar has the apple cider vinegar. Both come with glass lids which I don’t use for vinegar making.

Homemade red wine vinegar drained into a wine glass with spigot

Starting Additional Vinegar Batches from your Vinegar Mother

The guys at Northampton Beer and Wine told me that once the vinegar mother has dropped from the top of the batch they are not as potent but also do no harm (if they get in the way of your spigot draining vinegar just take them out but leave the top active mother).

If you were to want to start another batch you can cut part of your active vinegar mother (the uppermost one in the jar) along with some of the vinegar liquid and start it in another jar or give it to a friend.

The vinegar mother you use part of will regenerate or another will form in your batch. They also shared in many cultures the inactive mothers are cut up in salads or other dishes for their believed medicinal properties.

Some Easy Recipe Ideas to use your Homemade Vinegar:   15 Salad Dressing Recipes to Get You Excited About Salad Again

If you’ve tried this How to Make Vinegar guide please RATE THE RECIPE below!

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Unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a bowl

Printable Recipe for How to Make Vinegar (Red Wine Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar):

Wine goblet of homemade red wine vinegar with vinegar making glass jar in the background

Prep Time 10 minutes

Total Time 91 days 6 hours

  • 1 Vinegar Mother for the type of vinegar being made (e.g. apple cider vinegar mother, red wine vinegar mother, etc)

For Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 22 ounces Organic Hard Cider

For Red Wine Vinegar

  • 16 ounces SULFITE-FREE Red Wine
  • 8 ounces Water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rubber Bands

Before Beginning

  1. Determine where the vinegar will be made. It should be a place where it can stay (the vinegar mother does not love moving). It will need warmth (70-80 degrees is ideal), darkness and good air circulation.

  2. Sterilize your jar with hot water (not boiling) and drain. Check that the spigot is functioning properly before beginning.  

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Making the Vinegar

  1. Adding liquid.  The vinegar mother container will have instructions about the initial liquid to add.

  2. For the red wine vinegar Combine 16 ounces of organic sulfite free (required) red winewith 8 ounces of water in the jar. Then add the red wine vinegar mother.
  3. For apple cider vinegar Add a bottle of organic hard cider and the apple cider vinegar mother.
  4. The final step (for either vinegar type): Put 2-3 layers cheesecloth over the opening of the vinegar container securing it with rubber bands.

Feeding the Vinegar Mother

  1. Until the vinegar begins to convert hold off on regular 'feedings' (addition of more liquids) so as to not overwhelm the vinegar mother. Under normal temperature conditions adding the same amount of liquid as the initial ingredients monthly is about the right interval. 

  2. NOTE: adding additional liquid once the vinegar mother has formed with a long neck funnel to allow the liquid to drain into the jar along the glass (vs pouring it onto the vinegar mother) helps not disrupt the mother.

  3. The full vinegar conversion tastes approximately 3 months and can be affected by temperature. Tasting the vinegar will confirm when it's finished. 

  4. Liquids can continue to be poured into the vinegar container to continue vinegar making or the completed vinegar may be drained from the container and stored.

Nutrition Facts

How to Make Vinegar: Red Wine Vinegar & Apple Cider Vinegar

Amount Per Serving

Calories 9

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 0g 0%

Saturated Fat 0g 0%

Cholesterol 0mg 0%

Sodium 4mg 0%

Potassium 18mg 1%

Total Carbohydrates 0g 0%

Sugars 0g

Protein 0g 0%

Vitamin C 0.3%

Calcium 0.3%

Iron 1.2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Enjoy the health-boosting benefits of these recipes, which include something for even the finickiest of eaters.

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For thousands of years raw garlic has been recognized and utilized not only for its wonderful, savory taste, but for its purported health benefits as well. However, eating raw garlic can also provide social difficulties from breath odor, and side effects such a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach, heartburn, body odor, or digestive upsets.

Fermenting or pickling garlic in apple cider vinegar not only preserves but is said to help eliminate most of the complications from eating the garlic raw. It also opens up a whole new world of delicious ways to eat garlic. Apple cider vinegar is a prebiotic and naturally fermented food that supports and feeds the probiotics existing in the gut, contributing to a healthier environment in the body.

How to Preserve Garlic in Apple Cider Vinegar

Preserving garlic in apple cider vinegar is extremely easy, requiring very few steps.

  1. Purchase or take from your garden 5 or 6 garlic bulbs, which will fill approximately 1-pint jar with garlic cloves.
  2. Separate all the cloves from the bulbs and peel. In order to retain the full health benefits of garlic you should leave them whole and not cut or crush them when preparing for preservation. There is a component in garlic called allicin that provides its health benefits, and the allicin is released when the clove is crushed or cut open. Leave the clove whole until eaten if possible.
  3. Place the peeled, whole cloves in pint or quart canning jars. (Or you can use any glass jar with a closeable lid, such as a mayonnaise or peanut butter jar.) Leave 1-inch space from the top.
  4. Pour apple cider vinegar to cover the cloves. Raw, organic apple cider vinegar is ideal; however, a less expensive, generic apple cider vinegar will work well also. You may prefer to experiment by adding a little honey or other herbs and spices to customize the flavor.
  5. Close the lid and leave the garlic at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, then move it to a cellar or other cold storage. You may need to “burp” the lids a few times over the first couple of days to release any built-up pressure in the jars.

There is a process of interaction between the garlic and vinegar that will turn the cloves a green color over the course of the first several days. This is a normal part of the process. Eventually, the cloves will turn back towards their original color.

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