Making vinegar from scratch might seem intimidating, but it’s actually a simple process that only requires a few ingredients and some patience. Vinegar is a versatile acidic liquid that has been used for cooking, cleaning, and preserving food for centuries. By making your own homemade vinegar, you can customize the flavor to your liking and feel proud of your sustainable and zero-waste accomplishment.

The magic of vinegar-making lies in the process of fermentation. When sugary substances such as fruit, honey, or grains are exposed to moisture and oxygen, naturally occurring bacteria begin to convert the sugars into acetic acid. This acetic acid is what gives vinegar its tangy and sour taste. While there are many types of vinegar readily available in supermarkets, making your own allows you to experiment with different flavors and avoid any additives or preservatives. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of making vinegar at home from scratch.

How to Make Vinegar from Scratch: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you tired of buying vinegar from the grocery store? Do you want to try making your own vinegar at home? Making vinegar is a simple and easy process that only requires a few ingredients and some patience. In this article, we will guide you through the steps of making vinegar from scratch. Follow these easy instructions to make your very own homemade vinegar.

Choosing the Right Vinegar Starter

To make vinegar, you need a vinegar starter, also known as a vinegar mother. This starter is a slimy film of bacteria that ferments the alcohol into vinegar. There are a few options to choose from when it comes to selecting a vinegar starter. You can purchase a vinegar starter online or at a local brewing supply store. Alternatively, you can use unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (with the mother) as a starter to create a variety of vinegars such as wine vinegar or beer vinegar.

Gathering the Necessary Equipment

Before you start making vinegar, you need to gather the necessary equipment. You will need a large non-metal container, such as a glass jar or ceramic crock, a funnel, a cloth, and a rubber band. It’s important to avoid metal containers as the acid in the vinegar can react with the metal and cause off-flavors.

Choosing a Fermentable Sugar

The next step is to choose a fermentable sugar. Sugar is needed to feed the bacteria and create alcohol, which will then be converted into vinegar. You can use a variety of sugars such as white sugar, brown sugar, honey, or fruit scraps.

Making the Alcoholic Base

To make the alcoholic base, mix one cup of sugar with four cups of water and bring to a boil. You can add fruit scraps or juice for additional flavor. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, add your vinegar starter, cover with a cloth, and secure with a rubber band.

Stirring the Vinegar

Stir the vinegar once a day for the first week to ensure that the bacteria is evenly distributed. After the first week, check the acidity using a pH meter or taste test. The ideal pH range for vinegar is between 2.5-3.5. If you find that the acidity is not in the right range, let the vinegar ferment for another week.

Protecting the Vinegar from Contamination

To protect your vinegar from contamination, cover the container with a cloth to allow air to flow through while keeping out any flies or dust. The cloth will also protect the vinegar from light.

Storing and Aging the Vinegar

Once the vinegar has reached the desired acidity, strain out any fruit scraps or sediment and store it in a clean, glass bottle with a cork or tight-fitting lid. Over time, the flavor of the vinegar will mature and improve. Store the vinegar in a cool, dark place for up to six months.

Using Your Homemade Vinegar

Homemade vinegar can be used in a variety of ways, such as salad dressings, marinades, and pickling. It’s important to note that homemade vinegar will have a slightly different flavor than store-bought vinegar, as the flavors will vary depending on the type of sugar used and the fermentation process.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

If your vinegar smells off or has mold growing on the surface, it may have become contaminated. In this case, it’s best to discard the vinegar and start over with a new starter. Additionally, if the vinegar tastes too harsh or acidic, dilute the vinegar with water until you reach the desired acidity level.


Making vinegar from scratch is a simple and rewarding process. By following these easy instructions, you can create your own homemade vinegar and experiment with different flavors. Give it a try and impress your friends and family with your homemade vinegar creations!

Fermenting Your Vinegar

Once you have prepared your juice, it is time to start the fermentation process that will turn it into vinegar. Here’s how to do it:

1. Choose Your Fermentation Vessel Carefully

The key to successful fermentation is ensuring that your vessel is suitable for the job. While you can certainly use a glass jar with a lid or a plastic container, you should avoid any materials that could react with the vinegar, such as copper or iron. Stainless steel or ceramic are good options.

2. Add Your ‘Mother’ Culture

A ‘mother’ culture is a collection of bacteria that will kick-start the fermentation process. You can either buy one online or from a brewing supply store, or you can simply use unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegar from a previous batch. Add around one cup of the ‘mother’ for every gallon of juice.

3. Cover The Vessel

Your vinegar will need oxygen to ferment, but you don’t want to leave it completely open to the air, as it could become contaminated. Cover your vessel with a breathable cloth or paper towel, and secure it with a rubber band.

4. Keep The Vessel Warm

The bacteria that create vinegar work best in warm temperatures, ideally between 60-80°F (15-27°C). Keep your vessel in a warm place, such as on top of a fridge or in a cupboard near a heat source.

5. Let The Fermentation Process Begin

Fermentation can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the temperature, the strength of your ‘mother’, and the specific bacteria in your juice. You can taste your vinegar periodically to check its progress, but be patient – the longer you ferment, the stronger and more complex the flavors will become.

6. Check The Progress Regularly

You can check on your vinegar by removing the cloth and using a clean spoon to taste it. It should become progressively more acidic as the fermentation continues. If you see mold or other signs of contamination, you may need to start again.

7. Skim The Surface

As the fermentation process continues, you may notice a white, gelatinous substance forming on the surface of your vinegar. This is a harmless bacterial colony known as a ‘vinegar mother’. You can either remove it or stir it back into the vinegar.

8. Strain Your Vinegar

Once your vinegar has reached your desired strength and flavor, it’s time to strain it. You can use cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or a fine mesh strainer. Some people also choose to leave a small amount of the vinegar ‘mother’ in the liquid to use in the next batch.

9. Store In The Right Container

Now that your vinegar is ready, transfer it to a clean, airtight container, such as a glass bottle or Mason jar. Avoid using plastic since it can react with acid over time.

10. Enjoy Your Homemade Vinegar!

Congratulations – you have successfully made vinegar from scratch! Use it in cooking, salad dressings, or as a natural cleaning solution. You can also gift some jars to friends and family. Enjoy the delicious, tangy flavors that you have created with your own two hands.

What ingredients do you need for homemade vinegar?

Making vinegar from scratch is a simple process that requires only a few ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen. Here are the essential ingredients you will need:

Sugar (or another source of sugar such as fruit, juice, or honey)
Raw vinegar (containing the vinegar mother)

Water: This is the base for making vinegar and is used to dilute the sugar (or other sugar sources). You can use tap water, but filtered or purified water is better.

Sugar: This is what the vinegar bacteria feed on to create the acetic acid that turns the sugar into vinegar. You can use white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, or any other sweeteners like fruits or juices.

Raw Vinegar: This contains the vinegar mother, which is a gel-like substance containing the bacteria that turn the alcohol into vinegar. You can purchase raw vinegar with mother from health food stores, specialty markets or online retailers.

How to make vinegar from scratch- Step by Step Guide

Now that you have all the ingredients ready, let’s get started on how to make vinegar from scratch.

Step 1: In a large jar or container, mix one part sugar with four parts water (for example, one cup of sugar with four cups of water).

Step 2: Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.

Step 3: Add one cup of raw vinegar (with the mother included) to the mixture, making sure to stir well.

Step 4: Cover the jar with a clean cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Do not use airtight lids or aluminum foil as it will restrict airflow, it should be kept in an open air environment.

Step 5: Place the container in a dark, warm place with a temperature between 60-80°F. The ideal place to store it would be in a kitchen cupboard or pantry. The dark environment prevents bacterial growth, while the moderate temperature helps the bacteria to thrive.

Step 6: After two weeks, you should start to see the vinegar forming. Taste the mixture at this point to test its potency. It should be acidic and taste like vinegar, but with a little sweetness from the remaining sugar. If you prefer a more sour or acidic taste, you can let it ferment longer.

Step 7: Once you are satisfied with the taste, strain the vinegar mixture from the mother using a coffee filter or cheesecloth.

Step 8: Pour the vinegar into a clean jar or bottle and store it in a cool, dark place. Your homemade vinegar is now ready to use in your favorite recipes.

How to Store Homemade Vinegar

When it comes to storing homemade vinegar, it is important to follow a few guidelines to ensure its longevity:

Storage Temperature: Vinegar ideally should be stored in a cool, dark place such as a pantry. You should avoid storing vinegar in direct sunlight as it can affect its flavor.

Storage Container: Vinegar should be stored in a glass or ceramic container. Avoid storing vinegar in plastic or metallic containers as it may react with the vinegar and compromise its taste.

Shelf Life: If stored properly, homemade vinegar can last for up to six months to a year.

How to Use Homemade Vinegar

Homemade vinegar can be used in various ways in the kitchen. Here are some of our favorite uses:

Cooking: Use homemade vinegar in salad dressings, marinades, sauces, and pickling recipes.

Cleaning: Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that can be used to clean surfaces around the house such as countertops and floors.

Beauty: Vinegar can be used in beauty routines, used as a facial toner or hair rinse.

Health: Vinegar has many health benefits, including helping with digestion, aiding weight loss, and reducing cholesterol levels. You can take a teaspoon of vinegar diluted in water to reap its health benefits.

In conclusion, making vinegar from scratch is an easy and affordable option, adding an experiment of flavors to your table. You will have a fresh and tasty staple to add to your favorite recipes. Happy homemade vinegar-making!

Bottom Line

There you have it, folks! Making vinegar from scratch is a fun and easy process that will undoubtedly add more flavor to your culinary skills. I hope this step-by-step guide has made it easier for you to start your vinegar-making journey. Remember, patience is key, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different fruit flavors. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to come back for more exciting DIY recipes and cooking hacks!