Vinegar Experiment : Results!

Remember when I took a gallon of not-so-good homemade wine and tried turning it into vinegar? I didn’t for quite a while…in fact, I expected that from myself:

“I like projects that thrive on neglect. I tend to forget about them for months at a time, a good thing when you are supposed to wait…this is one of those things. If when I remember, I’ll tell you how it went.”


Well, as expected, after placing it in a dark corner of our pantry, I mostly forgot about it. I would glance at it from time to time, noticing the mother developing nicely. Then it seems I completely ignored it for several weeks, only to notice one day that the mother was HUGE, and taking up a large portion of the jug!

I realized a few days ago, it was ready, or I thought it should be. In order to test it, I dropped a spoonful of the vinegar onto a spoon of baking soda, in a classic kitchen experiment of adding an acid to a base. It foamed and bubbled just as it should, and way better than the store-bought vinegar I tried, so is probably a higher acid content.

I wanted to bottle it for storage, but didn’t want to start another mother to grow in each of the jars, so I opted to pasteurize the vinegar before bottling. In order to pasteurize, the vinegar needs to be brought up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit and held there for ten minutes.  I believe the ten minutes part is CYA on the part of the folks stating it.

(Tangent Alert – Did you know that in order to make water safe, you do NOT need to boil it? Heating water to 149 degrees Fahrenheit is all that is required to kill pathogens. How can you tell when you get to 140 degrees without a thermometer? You can’t, therefore boiling (212 degrees) offers a visual indication of temperature, and is the reason the mis-information is spread.)

Sorry, I had to mention that.

So I heated my vinegar to 170, like a good little sheep, then bottled it in mason jars (yes, sanitized). I now have almost a gallon of homemade vinegar that tastes very much like a fruity malt vinegar. Excellent!

Here are the results:

As you can see, I did have an issue with the mother growing so large as to become trapped in the bottle, much like the mouse in “Strange Brew”. (You DID see that movie, right?) I’ll have fun getting that out….or maybe I’ll just add in more cheap wine to make more vinegar…only then the mother will simply get even larger. Crud.

Overall though, as an experiment, I’ll call this a grand success. Go make some garbage wine (or buy some!), then turn it into some great tasting vinegar. Do it at least once, so you can mark it off your bucket list. I know you’ll sleep better for having learned this lost skill.




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