How to Make Vinegar
Making vinegar is so easy it can be done by accident. We could even say that most of it is made without our cooperation or awareness. Making good vinegar, consistantly, is another story. That requires a little effort. But the effort pays well.
Vinegar can be made from almost anything which contains sugar or starch. It is made from many different things; fruits, grains, roots even wood.
It can be made directly from sugar but is best made by first converting the sugar into alcohol and then turning the alcohol into vinegar. The conversion from starch is a little trickier, but the process shares a lot of similarities.
There are many ways to make vinegar and many of them are covered in our fun easy to read reference book
on the subject. But for now let's stick to the very simplest way possible.
To make vinegar the simplest way you need to find yourself;
A container with a spout .(e.g. a sun tea jar) The spout is not mandatory but it sure makes things easier. The container should also have a wide mouth to let in air as well as a way to keep out flies. (Air is very important!) You will be visited by vinegar flies! They are my assistants. The container should be glass or stainless steel for best results. Aluminum and iron is definately out. Some plastics can work, some are dangerous because they react with vinegar. So, for now, I would skip plastics.
Some fresh fruit juice. (Even the frozen variey will do. But I would stay away from the bottled ones because they add chemicals to keep the juice from turning to vinegar. (See how easy it is to make vinegar.)
A starter culture. Notice I said "starter culture". Don't make a big deal about getting a "mother", it will probably ruin otherwise good vinegar. What you need are the bacteria which make vinegar. Check the home brew stores or pick up a bottle of unpasturized, unfiltered vinegar. I have had great success with Braggs Apple cider vinegar. The vinegar in the culture keeps out the other molds and bacteria until the vinegar bacteria have had a chance to take firm control of the juice.
A dark place. You could also paint your jar or cover it . The object is to keep out the light. Light will slow the vinegar production or even kill your culture. A warm place. The precise temperature is not so critical but it does make a difference on how fast your vinegar is made. If you feel comfortable at that temperature, most likely the vinegar bacteria will be happy also.
OK, we have a vinegar culture, a container to put it in, some food for it and lot's of warm air available to it.
Pour about one quart of the starter into the container.
Pour about the same amount of juice into the container.
Put the mix into a warm dark place.
Keep checking it until it is as strong as you like it or it seems to be losing strength.
Bottle it in small bottles. Leave it for at least six months before using. (You could use it right away but, this will make it smoother)
Once you have got the hang of it, you might want to try making some real special vinegar. And Remember the Vinegar Man loves you.