How to Make Your Own Vinegar

There is an abundance of recipes on making flavoured vinegars but it is also possible to make your own vinegar at home. It can be made from pretty much any liquid containing alcohol, and the flavor of homemade vinegar is often reckoned to be far better than anything you can find at a store. It also makes a unique gift! People have been making vinegar around the world for thousands of years, why can't you?


  • Starter
  • Alcoholic liquid


  1. Image titled Make Your Own Vinegar Step 1
    Get your starter. The starter's job is to provide acetic acid bacteria, which converts ethanol into acetic acid (the primary ingredient in vinegar).
    • Unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegar. It's important to use vinegar that hasn't been processed in a way that interferes with the acetic acid bacteria.
    • Mother of vinegar. This slimy looking thing consists of acetic acid bacteria and cellulose. It's a natural product of the vinegar-making process. If you have a friend who makes vinegar, you may be able to get a piece of theirs, or you can make your own. You can make your own by mixing unpasteurized and unfiltered vinegar with an alcoholic liquid and putting the mixture in a sunny spot for two weeks, but in that case, you might as well use the vinegar itself as a starter; a mother will form with your vinegar that you use next time.
    • Mycoderma aceti. You may be able to find it in a wine-making store. It's clear and comes in a jar.[1]
  2. Image titled Make Your Own Vinegar Step 2
    Prep the container. Choose a container made from glass or enameled earthenware. You don't want the container material to react with the vinegar. Aluminum, iron and plastic will ruin the vinegar.[2] Clean it thoroughly. Pour in the starter and swirl it to coat all the surfaces so that the vessel is inoculated with the acetic acid bacteria.[2]
  3. Image titled Make Your Own Vinegar Step 3
    Pour in the alcoholic liquid. Since oxygen is necessary for this process, try to ensure as much liquid surface area as possible. Fill the container up to its widest point.[2]
    • wine
    • cider (referred to as hard cider in the US and parts of Canada)
    • beer
    • fermented fruit juice
  4. Image titled Make Your Own Vinegar Step 4
    Cover the opening with cheesecloth. Tighten the cheesecloth around the opening with a rubber band or string. This will allow oxygen in while keeping flies and other contaminants out.
  5. Image titled Make Your Own Vinegar Step 5
    Wait. Put the container in a warm, dark place and let nature do its thing. Keep the mixture between 60 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (around 15 to 27 degrees Celsius).[3] During the course of about 3-4 weeks, it should start forming a mother of vinegar; you can observe this if you used a glass container. The amount of time it takes for the vinegar making process, however, depends greatly on the type of alcoholic liquid you used, and how much of it you're converting. The range is anywhere between 3 weeks to 6 months.
    • Some sources suggest stirring the mixture daily in order to provide oxygen, and taste testing a little bit at a time towards the end of the 3-4 week period to see if the vinegar's ready.[3] Other sources recommend leaving the mixture undisturbed, so that the mother doesn't sink.[2]
    • If you decide to leave the mixture undisturbed, it'll be a little trickier to see if it's ready. Smell it through the cheesecloth; it's done when there is an intense vinegary smell that almost burns in your nostrils. If, based on this, you taste it and it's not ready after all, let it ferment undisturbed for another period of time, depending on how close it is to your desired vinegar flavor.[2]
      • A container with a spout at the bottom would make this much easier, since you can taste the vinegar without disturbing the mother at the top.
  6. Image titled Make Your Own Vinegar Step 6
    Bottle and store your delicious, homemade vinegar! Strain out the vinegar through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, separating the mother, which can be kept for making more vinegar.
    • Unless you ferment the vinegar for a very long time, there is probably alcohol still left in it, which you can remove by boiling. While you're at it, you can pasteurize and reduce the vinegar, so that you can store it for longer and concentrate the flavours, respectively.[2] To achieve pasteurization, heat the vinegar to 170 degrees Fahrenheit (77 degrees Celsius) and hold it there for 10 minutes.[3] Crock Pots are perfect for holding food for a long time below the boiling point. Use a thermometer to check your crock pot's temperature at each setting to determine which setting is closest to 170 degrees.
    • Unpasteurized vinegar can be stored in sterilized, capped jars in the refrigerator for a few months. Pasteurized vinegar can be stored in sterilized containers with tight-fitting lids at room temperature for more than a few months, as long as they are kept out of direct sunlight.[3]


  • The vinegar can be flavored as with any other vinegar if wished.


  • Warning you may enjoy your product more than store bought as it was made with love for you and others the lost art of food.

Things You'll Need

  • Small bowl
  • Wide-mouthed container (such as a jug)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Storage bottle with lid

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