Have you ever thought about learning to make your own fruit vinegar? Or wondered how difficult it was to create unique flavors like cherry, apricot or strawberry? I’m here to tell you that making your own fruit vinegar isn’t hard! And that I think you should start making your own, this year!
Why You Should Make Fruit Vinegar
Traditionally, vinegar was made at home by the woman. After harvesting fruits or berries, she would extract the juice, then leave it to sit at room temperature. Natural yeasts would convert the juice’s sugars to alcohol. Shortly after, air borne bacteria would convert the alcohol content to acetic acid, creating a shelf-stable, fruit vinegar.
Women would then use this vinegar to create refreshing summer drinks, homemade condiments, herbal remedies and of course, to better her baking or cooking! Things that you and I could benefit from today! So let’s take a deeper look at why a modern homemaker might want to make her own fruit vinegar. Shall we?
Reason 1: Access to Flavors You Can’t Easily Find
If you’re like me (living near or even in a small town), you probably don’t have access to an artisan vinegar shop! Let’s be real here: my local grocery store carries white vinegar and a version of an apple cider vinegar. But strawberry? Cherry? Grape or huckleberry vinegar? Not a chance!
By harvesting the fruit you do have access to, you can create your own, rare and delicious vinegar at home. And in many cases, you can do it for free!
Reason 2: Another Fermented Food Product in Your Diet
Did you know that bottles of actual, fermented fruit vinegar aren’t easy to find?
Most of the time, “raspberry” or “apple” vinegar you may find at your local grocery store isn’t the real deal. Instead, the base consists of white vinegar (not a true, fermented product) and has artificial flavors and coloring added in. In this way, companies can create a cheap, affordable vinegar that “tastes” as if it’s fruit based.
FYI? The flavor is nowhere NEAR the richness you’ll get with the real deal!
Traditional fruit vinegar, on the other hand, is a true, fermented food product that has slowly moved through the fementing phases. Because of this, it has many benefits to offer the human body. Apart from the fact that it contains acetic acid, fruit vinegar also has good bacteria strains, minerals, anti-oxidants and vitamins. It’s also a natural electrolyte (see more on that below)!
Reason 3: Vinegar is Simple to Make
If you have access to fresh, sun ripened fruit, you can create fruit vinegar in just a few steps! I wrote a basic tutorial for you here, outlining one approach to the fermenting process!
And if you don’t have access to fresh fruit, you can buy and ferment pure, 100% fruit juice into vinegar as well. Just make sure the juice doesn’t have additives (like lots of sugar) or stabilizers.
Reason 4: There Are Many Ways You Can Use It
Because our North American culture has nearly forgotten how to make fruit vinegar, the knowledge of it’s use has almost died as well. But here are some of my favorite ways to put fermented fruit vinegar to use in the home!
Use #1: Create a Refreshing Summer Drink
If you’ve ever read the “Little House on the Prairie” series, you may remember Laura and Pa consuming a special drink during hay season (The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, pg 8). It consisted of water, sugar, vinegar and ginger.
This old-timer’s drink had many different names (switchel, haymaker’s punch) and while ingredients varied, water, fruit vinegar and sweetener were always the base. It was popular in the old days because it helped re-balance the body’s energies while working hard in the summer heat. Today, we understand a bit more of the science behind it: fermented vinegar contains natural electrolytes!
Use #2: A Red Meat Tenderizer
Fruit vinegar is an excellent, red meat tenderizer! Take your favorite marinade recipe and match the amount of oil with vinegar (eg. if using 1/3 C oil, also use 1/3 C vinegar). Deep, bold flavors pair best with red meat. Plum is one of my personal favorites!
Use #3: Vinegar Makes Fluffier Quick Breads
When making quick breads (pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, muffins, etc), add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to every 1 C milk in the recipe. In doing so, you’ll make a mock buttermilk! The extra acidity will react with baking powder and especially with baking soda, resulting in a fluffier end product!
Use #4: Create Homemade Dips and Dressings
Fermented fruit vinegar adds excellent flavor and also preserving qualities to homemade dips, salad dressings and vinaigrettes. From homemade mayonnaise to a basil spinach dip and raspberry mint vinaigrette, the options and creation process are endless!
In my book “Traditonal Fruit Vinegar (click the link to see)” I have an entire chapter dedicated to vinegar-based recipes!
Use #5: Simple Home Remedies
Did you know it’s safe to infuse fresh herb, garlic and other plant matter in vinegar? Because it’s a natural preservative (much like alcohol), it’s an easy, frugal place to begin if you’re new to home remedies!
Simply fill a jar with whatever herb or foodstuff you wish to extract the properties of. Cover with finished vinegar and let sit in a dark, cool place for 4-6 weeks. Strain out the solids and bottle your infused vinegar!
Once created, you don’t have to take it directly, as you would with a cold or cough medicine! Infused vinegar is tasty when added to condiments, refreshing summer drinks and the like. No one needs to know you’re doctoring them! Just slip it in there. 😉
Reason #6: You Create Something Unique and Special
Maybe I’m an odd duck, but I love how unique fruit vinegar is. You won’t find the real deal in most kitchens. Not here in North America, anyway!
And there’s something gratifying about the process as well. We were made to create. And when it comes to food and drink, making your own vinegar is a very satisfying endeavor!
6 Reasons to Make Your Own Fruit Vinegar
So there you have my thoughts, scrambled all over this page! I’m very keen not only on making my own fruit vinegar, but also on teaching others to do the same. Which is why I wrote my printable e-book “Traditional Fruit Vinegar: the Beginner’s Guide to Creating and Using.”
In it, I show you how to transform whole fruit and berries into fermented vinegar. And then? I teach you how to use it in the home! If this interests you, be sure to check it out!
Of course, if you have comments or questions, feel free to leave them below!