Fermenting your own fruit vinegar from scratch is an easy and fun project.
Homemade vinegar is one of those unusual but easy projects that the whole family can get behind. All you really have to do is stir and wait. What could be simpler?
I have posted before about making red wine vinegar from scratch, a project I do several times a year. I have also made white wine vinegar and malt vinegar using the same method. The process for fruit vinegar is a little different though.
I use the directions found in Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, fermentation expert extraordinaire. Although his directions are for pineapple vinegar, I usually make peach vinegar because I have an excess of peaches growing in the back yard. But the same process can be used to make any kind of fruit vinegar. The best thing is, you can use fruit scraps – things like fruit peels, over-ripe fruit, and fruit pulp leftover from making jelly or juice. Just don’t use any fruit that is spoiled. Soft or bruised is ok, rotting is not.
I was reminded to make peach vinegar when I received a note from a member of our Canning Community (sign up for our newsletter to become a member) about making jelly with Java Plums. My first thought was, “oh, the leftover pulp from that would make a wonderful vinegar!” Each fruit lends its own personality to vinegar. This peach vinegar is mild and delicate. A plum or blueberry vinegar is more assertive. A mango or pineapple vinegar falls somewhere in between.
- 1-3 cups of fruit peels, pulp, or chopped fresh fruit
- 4 cups water
- 1½ cups sugar
- Place clean chopped fruit, fruit peels, and/or pulp in a medium sized bowl.
- Dissolve sugar in the water.
- Pour water over the fruit, and stir to combine.
- Cover bowl with cheesecloth, paper towel, or coffee filter.
- Let sit in a warm place for about a week, or until mixture darkens.
- Strain out the fruit, re-cover and let sit another 2 - 4 weeks, stirring occasionally.
- Taste to make sure the mixture has fermented enough to get that vinegar taste.
- Heat the vinegar to 140 degrees to stabilize the vinegar. Watch carefully, if heated over 160 degrees you will ruin the vinegar!
- Pour the vinegar into decorative bottles. Add oak chips to each bottle for additional flavor.
- Plug bottles with caps, corks, or plastic tops.
- Label with type and date and let age in a cool, dark place for 6 months if desired..
- Note: Bottles, caps,oak chips, and plastic top tasting corks can all be purchased at a brewing or wine making supply store. Decorative bottles can be purchased at craft supply stores.
Do I leave the pits in or should I take the pits out?
Tina, I would remove the pits.
Is it necessary to heat to stabilize?
Kristen, yes, heat is necessary to stabilize. It “arrests” the process.
Hi how long do I need to heat the vinegar after straining.
Esper, heat as long as you need till reaching 140 degrees. Just be sure not to heat past 160 degrees!
Can this be done with orange peels that do not have any pulp on them?
Sasha, that should work too!
Hi. I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t find an answer to my question. I see lots of sites about adding herbs to finished vinegar for herbed vinegar, but I want to add herbs to the vinegar making process itself. Specifically mint to pears for vinegar. Is this a thing or do I have to wait until I make the vinegar to add the mint?
Margaret, I don’t see any reason why you can’t add mint to the vinegar making process. You will probably want to limit the exposure time though – I imagine herbs might become bitter after a while. You could try leaving them in for about half the time, taste the mixture, and decide whether or not to continue. I am interested to know your result! Please report back and let us all know how it works.
I’m making a plum vinegar and strained then waited about 4 weeks, when I went to check it again I had a gel like layer on both top and bottom, they don’t seem to be mold and it smells great, I’m about to heat it and was unsure about the solids. Did I not stir enough? Should I add them back in?
Lydia, sounds like you have developed a “mother.” Is it gel-like? If so, that’s great! Scoop it off and put it in a jar – then use for your next batch. I usually keep it in a canning jar with a little of the vinegar – in the fridge. It will stay good for ages.
When storing the mother, do you put a lid on or cheesecloth?
Daisie, I usually put a lid on if I am saving the mother separate from the bottle of vinegar. And I keep the extra mother in the refrigerator.
Do you cover with air tight lid or a coffee filter when letting it sit after fruit has been strained?
Bonnie, I continue to use a coffee filter or cheesecloth for better air circulation. What kind of vinegar are you making?
Peach with a bit of jalapeño.
How do you keep it from getting moldy during the initial phase before straining? It’s happened twice.
Ed, so sorry. Mold is frustrating and a common problem, especially if you live in a humid environment. Here are a few tips for your next batch:
Make sure the fruit peels,pulp, etc. are clean with no bruises.
Use a larger, more shallow pan to start. This gives more surface area for the “vinegar” microbes to do their work.
Stir the mixture once or twice every day.
Hopefully that will fix the issue. Please let me know how it turns out.
I put up about two cups of mango flesh, to about a quart of rain water and about a tablespoon of brown sugar in a wide mouth bottle and covered it with a piece of old sheet, tied in place, and set it in a place out of the sunlight. I have not stirred it, and the top of the fruit is gradually turning blue, while the liquid is somewhat milky. Any advice?
Jeremy, it sounds like it is molding. Why? Who knows. Maybe it wasn’t warm enough for the fermentation to really get going before the mold started growing. Sorry, but it’s probably best to toss it and start over. Sorry.
When I made this recipe I tried to strain out the fruit. However, the liquid thickens to the consistency of egg whites and I was unable to strain it. Any thoughts or solutions?
Deb, it is amazing how much the local weather affects the fermentation process! It sounds to me like your whole batch is now vinegar “mother.” So, you could simply start over, leaving out the sugar, but adding some of our mother instead. Don’t worry about straining the fruit out of the mother. Once it has more liquid you will be able to strain it all at the same time. Or, you could make fruit juice and add some of your homemade mother to make vinegar. Follow the red wine vinegar directions if you choose this option. https://www.seedtopantry.com/2013/07/17/homemade-red-wine-vinegar/
Let me know how it works out. Good luck! Renee
We’ve had a similar experience: Two batches of exceptionally good peach vinegar, alternating with 2 batches of goo, including this year’s, which I should be heating and bottling today. Other than using it as a mother in red wine vinegar, is there any salvaging the goo? Also, is it warm weather that affects the process? Is there any avoiding it? We started noticing thickness after only a few days of the first fermentation.
Nicole, I am sure that the warm weather is a factor. I am not sure if there is any salvaging it other than using it as a mother. You could try adding more water to thin it out and continuing the fermentation process. It should work (in theory). Would love to hear how it plays out. Good luck!