August 5, 2015

The Skinny on Making Vinegar

I started some yellow plum vinegar a few weeks ago and it's been working away quite energetically. It's been a year since I last made vinegar, so since starting this batch I've remembered a few things about the process and thought I'd share them with you.

You might want to read this earlier post on making vinegar first, if you haven't already. That post goes into more detail about how to make vinegar.

This time, I filled the quart jars about half-full of plums, skins and pits and all. On top I put a piece of mother of vinegar from last year's batch - I used a "disk" of mother and cut it in three pieces, one for each jar. Then I filled each jar with filtered water; I've learned the hard way not to use tap water.

This time I put a paper towel on top of each jar and held it down with a rubber band, and set them all on the counter.

After a couple of days I realized that I'd forgotten to put sugar in with the fruit and water, but the brew was working just fine without it. Evidently those plums had lots of natural sugar.

The paper towel coverings were also very wet, and liquid had dripped onto the countertop and down onto the floor below. It's definitely better to use a piece of fabric than paper, so I changed to handkerchiefs held on with the same rubber bands. While I was at it, I redistributed the fruit into a fourth jar, cut the largest piece of mother in half so that I had a fourth bit, and poured some of the filtered water from the original jars into the fourth so that they all had roughly an equal amount. I wanted to lower the level in the jars so that it didn't bubble up quite so far and make a mess on the kitchen counter.

Mother of vinegar

After that I did a better job of remembering to stir the working vinegar each day. This helps to prevent mold on top. I use a non-metal spoon to stir it.

By the way, you will get vinegar flies. I don't know where they come from, but every time I've made vinegar (except the time it flopped) I've had vinegar flies on top of the hankies. Even though I lowered the level of the water in the jars, the brew was still bubbling up and making the hankies damp, but at least it wasn't making the mess that it did at first.

If you make sourdough or yogurt or kefir or any other sort of fermented product in your kitchen, it works best to separate the projects from each other and from the vinegar. The bacteria tend to "fight" with each other. I've had success by putting my projects at opposite ends of the kitchen.

One last tip: your kitchen will smell like vinegar. I don't find it unpleasant, there are worse smells in the world (the day our dogs got skunked comes to mind).

Last week the vinegar stopped bubbling, so I've strained the large solids out of it, removed the layer of mother of vinegar from each jar, and put the liquid from the quart jars into one half-gallon jar. I added the disks of mother to a pint jar and added enough of last year's remaining vinegar to cover it all. I keep all this mother of vinegar on hand so that I can make more vinegar easily; it jumpstarts a new brew.

I'll let the half-gallon of new vinegar work for awhile longer, then strain it through muslin to remove the sediment that has settled at the bottom, and call it done. (Can you see the new layer of mother at the top of this jar? It has formed since I removed the solids several days ago.)

Isn't it amazing that we can make our own vinegar? I love being able to provide for our own needs.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email


  1. This is something I haven't tried yet, thanks for the tips!


  2. You're welcome, Fern.

  3. Hi, Kathy.

    Thanks for the cider making tips. Even though we have 4 apple trees, I've yet to make vinegar. It's on my bucket list. The apples are almost ripe. I'm curious, what do you use plum vinegar for?

    ~ Sally

  4. Great tips! I have tried my hand at vinegar from apples, but it had never occurred to me to use plums (or any other type of fruit, for that matter). I will definitely have to give it a try, and yes, there are MUCH worse things a kitchen can smell like than vinegar!

  5. Lara, I think we can use any fruit (well, except tomatoes!) to make vinegar. I've even read about someone using dates. Thank you for your comment!

  6. That is amazing! What do you use plum vinegar for? Is it good as a salad dressing?

  7. Jennifer, it makes a good vinaigrette, marinade, or oil and vinegar dressing.

  8. How long does your vinegar keep? In the fridge?

  9. Nancy, I keep mine in a kitchen cupboard. I've never had a batch "go bad" but I use it up in less than a year. The pint jar in which I keep the mother-of-vinegar from past batches had year-old vinegar in it when I added this year's mother. It still smelled vinegar-y although it wasn't as strong as when it's fresh. I just added new vinegar to make sure it all covered the mother in the jar.

    That was kind of a non-answer, wasn't it? It was a good question though!

  10. Thanks! I wasn't sure if it needed to be in the fridge or not. I don't use a lot but I probably will if it's mine :)

  11. I bet you'll use more if it's vinegar you made, Nancy. :-)

  12. Congrats, you ARE this week's feature on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop! LOL No joke :D

  13. Thank you, Mindie. LOL! :-D

  14. This is a fabulous post, Kathi! Love the step by step instructions and your notes on exactly what happens when you make your own vinegar. It's so nice to be able to make these basic staples for ourselves. Pinned and shared. Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul hop.

  15. Thank you for pinning and sharing, April.

  16. Thanks for your instructions and specially photos.

    I have a question.
    We did the same approach, however when we separated the final acidic liquid, it smelled similar to its mother. Will after a while it would be changed and okay?

    1. I waited until it smelled and tasted like vinegar, then strained it. After a few months I noticed that the jar of vinegar had grown another layer of "mother" so it's an ongoing process.


Thank you for stopping by. I hope you'll leave a comment - I would love to hear from you. If you wish to email me instead, please click here. Thank you!

Please note that anonymous comments are usually deleted unread because of the high amount of spam. Instead of commenting anonymously, consider choosing the NAME/URL option - just fill in your name, leaving a URL is optional.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...