When I first decided to try making homemade raspberry vinegar, tutorials were hard to come by. Oh, there were plenty online about soaking berries in store-bought vinegar. But I wanted to make the real, old fashioned stuff!
So I researched old books, gathered information and finally, made my first batch. And I fell head over heels in love with the tangy, bold flavor! Not only was it a fermented food product I could add to my kitchen, but it was actually quite simple to make.
And because I know you’re interested in creating your own, I’m going to show you how to make raspberry vinegar from scratch!
Old Fashioned Raspberry Vinegar Recipe
Old fashioned raspberry vinegar is the result of a slow fermenting process. It is simple to make and requires very little of your time and attention. In this written tutorial, I’m going to walk you through the process step by step. I also made a free printable which you can access at the bottom of this blog post.
All good? Let’s move on!
How the Fermenting Process Works
Before we get into the how to’s, I want to give you a brief overview of how the vinegar making process works.
Initially, you’re going to harvest your berries. After extracting the juice (more on that later), you’ll pour it into a jar or crock, cover the mouth with a cloth and leave the juice to ferment at the back of your kitchen counter.
Air flow will carry wild yeasts to the surface of your liquid. These yeasts will feed on the natural sugars in your juice, converting them to alcohol.
Once the yeasts have consumed all the sugars, a group of airborne bacteria begin to work on the fruit juice. This bacteria group converts the alcohol content to acetic acid. Once that process is over, you’ll have raspberry vinegar!
No additives are required, because everything you need naturally exists in airflow of your home. It still amazes me every time I stop to think about it!
And now that I’ve given you a quick summary, let’s take an in-depth look at each step in the process.
Step 1: Harvest Your Raspberries
Harvest raspberries when they are ripe and juicy. Fully ripened berries contain the highest concentrates of natural sugar and make a very bold, flavorful vinegar.
Don’t have your own berry patch? Try sourcing freshly picked berries at a local farmer’s market or fruit stand. And if that isn’t an option? You can absolutely use frozen raspberries to make your own vinegar!
Should you be interested in growing some of your own fruit, I highly recommend planting some raspberry canes in your back yard. Raspberries are easy to grown in colder, northern climates. My friend Annie has a great post that will show you how to care for raspberries. There’s nothing like having your own!
Step 2: Prepare Your Raspberries
Because ripe raspberries are soft and fragile, don’t rinse them under running water. Instead, spread them out on a tray and pick over the fruits with your fingers. Remove any leaves, twigs or bugs. And then, you can prepare the juice.
Step 3: Extract the Raspberry Juice
The best way I’ve found to extract juice from raspberries is with a water infusion. Here’s how it works!
Place your raspberries in a glass jar, filling it 3/4 of the way. Cover your fruit with about 1/2 inch of chlorine-free water. Add a lid to the jar, being sure to fasten it down so fruit flies can’t get in!
Let the berries and water infuse at the back of your kitchen counter for no more than 3 days. You’ll notice a change in color as the red juice seeps out into the water. It’s a good thing!
On day 3, strain out the raspberries, being sure to keep the red liquid! And then? You’re going to repeat yourself to strengthen the liquid’s flavor.
Fill the jar with fresh berries once again, but this time, pour the red, infused water over the berries. Let it sit for another 3 days. Strain out the berries and repeat the process one more time, if desired.
If not, it’s time to ferment your raspberry juice!
Step 4: Pour the Juice Into a Food Safe Fermenting Container
Because your berry juice is going to become more acidic as it sits, make sure you use a food grade container for the fermenting process! Glass jars or stoneware crocks are my preferred choice.
Pour your raspberry juice into a food grade container and cover the mouth with a cloth, paper towel or coffee filter. Remember! For the fermenting process to take place, airflow needs to be able to carry the right yeasts and bacteria to the surface of your juice!
Step 5: Leave Your Juice to Ferment in Proper Temperatures
There are many different airborne organisms in your home. The ones you want working on your juice actually need a particular temperature range to thrive and multiply.
If the room temperature is too low, the organism’s action will be very slow. And if the room is too warm? Spoiler yeasts may take hold and ruin the entire batch. But don’t worry! Most homes do hold to the proper temperature range.
You don’t want your juice to get colder than 60F (16C) or warmer than 80F (26C). This is the perfect window.
If you live in an area where your home is very warm during the summer? Just freeze the juice (or berries) and make your vinegar after temperatures have reached the proper range.
Step 6: The First Phase of Fermentation
In the first phase, airborne yeasts are caught on the surface of your juice. Slowly, they will start to consume the natural raspberry sugars. As they feed, they convert the sugars to alcohol.
How can you tell if natural yeasts are in action? You’ll see tiny bubbles (CO2) on the sides of your container and on the surface of your juice. Eventually, you’ll notice a light, alcohol-like aroma wafting up from your ferment.
A pink, bubbly foam may also develop on the surface of your liquid at this time. If it appears, skim it off. It’s not mold, but it may eventually give mold opportunity to grow. And you don’t want that!
Step 7: The Second Phase of Fermentation
After a few weeks, the yeasts will start to die off for lack of sugar. At this point a second, airborne organism will begin to work on your juice.
Only this time, it’s a group of bacteria called acetobactors (acetic acid bacteria). This bacteria takes the alcohol content and converts it to acetic acid. The process is slow and the conversion happens 3-6x slower than the first phase. But when it’s finished, you’ll have a robust, raspberry flavored vinegar quite unlike anything you’ll find at the grocery store!
Step 8: How to Tell When Your Vinegar Is Finished
It isn’t always easy to tell when your vinegar has finished moving through the fermenting phases. It will smell (and taste) sour several weeks before it is fully finished. Here’s the test I use to determine whether or not my vinegar has finished releasing C02 and is safe for bottling.
Set 1-2 C aside in jar or bottle. Cover with a tight fitting lid or cork and leave the vinegar to sit at the back of your kitchen counter for several days.
Break the seal. Was there a release of carbon dioxide? If so, it isn’t safe for bottling. Return to the original container and let it sit for another 2-3 weeks. Test as needed, until there is no release of C02.
And then? It’s ready to be bottled in a food grade container!
Step 9: Storing Your Old Fashioned Raspberry Vinegar
Always use food-grade containers for storing your vinegar. Jars, glass bottles and jugs are my favorites! Whatever you choose to use, make sure you seal things up (to stop evaporation) and that you also avoid using tin or metal lids.
If you’re storing vinegar in glass jars, grab a pack of these white, wide mouth plastic lids. I use them for many things in my home and particularly, for my vinegar jars. Old tin canning lids just don’t hold up to the acidity of vinegar!
Once it’s bottled, you can store your vinegar wherever you please. It is shelf stable and will last for 1-2 years. Over time, the flavor and acidity will mellow out. But it’s so good, you probably won’t be able to keep it around for long!
Step 10: Start Using Your Raspberry Vinegar!
There are many different ways you can use raspberry vinegar in the home. Personal favorites are my Gardener’s Pick-Me-Up drink and my Honey Sweetened Raspberry Vinaigrette! I’ve included these recipes and so, so much more about making and using vinegar in my e-book “The Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Fruit Vinegar”
Sometimes, it helps to have a step by step guide on hand, and that’s exactly what my book offers!
If you have any questions about making raspberry vinegar, please feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!
Also, remember to grab your free printable as a reference for when you attempt to make your own, old fashioned raspberry vinegar!
Old Fashioned Raspberry Vinegar
- 1 quart (litre) glass jar
- a cloth cover
- Rubber band or string
- 7-8 C fresh raspberries
- Harvest ripe raspberries until you have enough for the task at hand.
- Pick over your harvest, removing leaves, twigs or bugs.
- Place part of the clean raspberries in a quart jar, filling 3/4 full.
- Add chlorine-free water until the berries are just covered.
- Cover with a lid to keep dust and fruit flies out.
- Leave the jar to rest at the back of your counter for 3-4 days.
- Strain out berries, keeping the red liquid.
- Fill the jar with berries once again.
- Pour the infused berry liquid over and let it sit for another 3-4 days.
- Strain. You can repeat the infusion process 1 more time or start fermenting the liquid.
- When you're ready to ferment, pour the liquid into a quart glass jar.
- Cover with a cloth, paper towel or coffee filter.
- Fasten your cover into place so that fruit flies cannot get in.
- Wait for several weeks, then check for bubbles on the side of your jar as a confirmation that the yeasts are working.
- If pink froth appears on the surface of your juice, skim it off.
- Let the juice continue to ferment until it begins smelling like vinegar (approx 6-8 weeks in total).
- When you think the vinegar is ready, test by sealing some up in a bottle or jar.
- Let sit for 2-3 days at room temperature before breaking the seal.
- If there is a release of CO2, let it ferment for another 2-3 weeks. Retest until there is no release when you break the seal.
- Bottle the vinegar in a food grade container and store for up to 2 years.