When I first began making my own vinegar, I stuck to well-known options. Over time, I become quite good at making red raspberry and apple cider vinegar. But grapes? I thought raw grape juice would only ferment into wine! It was several years later when I finally discovered the truth and learned how to make grape vinegar.
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To make grape vinegar, you’ll need to extract juice from the fruit. There are several techniques you can use. The steam juicer does a beautiful, mess-free job, but it also costs something to purchase. If frugality speaks your name, you can go about it the old school way, with a bowl, a flour sack tea towel and a potato masher.
Ready to learn how to make grape vinegar? Here’s how you go about it all!
Let’s Talk About Grapes
When it comes to making vinegar, you can use just about any grape variety. Fully-ripe grapes will yield the richest flavor. Those with high sugar content will make the strongest vinegar. It’s your choice!
Preparing the Grapes
Your grapes should be freshly picked. Rinse the clusters with water to remove dust and bugs.
Juicing the Grapes
If you’re steam juicing grapes, you don’t need to remove them from their stems. Simply plop the clusters in the steamer’s basket and follow your manual’s directions for juicing grapes.
Going old school? Line a large kitchen bowl with a flour sack tea towel. Pull grapes from their stem by the handful. Don’t worry if a few (or more than a few!) stems go with. Fill the bowl with grapes and then, employ that potato masher! Mash the grapes until they’re all broken up.
Gather and tie the four ends of your cloth together. Hang the bundle where it can drip into a bowl below. When the dripping stops, you’ll have raw grape juice for fermenting!
Pour the Juice Into a Fermenting Container
Your juice is ready for fermenting! Pour grape juice into a small, stoneware crock or a glass jar. Instead of putting a lid in place, cover the mouth of the container with a cloth or (in the case of a jar), a paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with string or a rubber band, lest fruit flies should get in.
Your juice should be left to ferment in temperatures ranging from 60F (15C) to 80F (26C). The process will take 2-4 months.
Watch the Fermenting Phases
You’ll be able to watch the juice move through fermenting phases.
Very soon, tiny bubbles will appear on the sides of your container. They can also be seen on the surface of the liquid. This is the first stage of fermentation. Natural yeasts are fermenting the sugars to alcohol.
Check the ferment 10-14 days later and the bubbles will (likely) be gone. After several weeks have passed, it will begin to smell a wee bit “sour” as vinegar should. This smell will grow stronger as acetic acid bacteria convert the alcohol to (yes!) acetic acid.
When finished, vinegar can be transferred to a jug or bottle for ease of use.
That’s all it takes! Learning how to make grape vinegar is simple, easy and delicious!