Creating Homemade Fruit Vinegars

Alice Okorn shares tips on using fruit to make homemade vinegar.

| November/December 1971

  • Homemade fruit vinegars
    Vinegar seems to be one of those rare foolproof products that anyone can make at home, if the original ingredients are tart enough.

  • Homemade fruit vinegars

Before you use your entire harvest of grapes, apples and pears for wine, jelly or just plain eating . . . try mashing some for vinegar. With very little time, effort and expense you can have your own delicious, homemade variety on salads every day of the year.

Vinegar seems to be one of those rare foolproof products that anyone can make at home, if the original ingredients are tart enough. We once tried to make our supply of the condiment from apples that apparently were too mild and, even though we let the bottled brew stand for over two years, it never did have any "bite". Mild apples, we found, will produce only a weak flavor that's difficult to recognize as vinegar ... so be sure the fruit you use is good and tart.

The least expensive apples to use for vinegar are those that are bruised or that have dropped from the tree. No matter if they have big, brown spots . . . that's the start of the fermentation you want.

The next cheapest method of obtaining vinegar apples or pears is by going to an orchard right at the end of harvest and picking the hard-to-get-at leftovers. Last year we obtained lovely apples this way for only a dollar a bushel.

By the way, although tart apples and pears — or a combination of the two — will certainly make good vinegar, you needn't be restricted to such traditional "cider vinegar" fruits. Our favorite version of the sour liquid seasoning is made from a base of Concord grapes. It's different from and much more flavorful than either store-bought cider or wine vinegar.

Once you have your apples, pears or whatever, pick the fruit over (to make sure it's clean) and chop it up somehow. Grapes are simple — just mash them — but pears and apples present more difficulty. Sure, you can grind them . . . but if you're working with several bushels, that takes a lot of time and energy. My husband, Richard, simply puts the tree fruit in a sturdy wooden container and smashes it with a two-by-four.

Mindy McGregor
11/15/2012 9:30:19 PM

I love to use apple cider vinegar in many many ways. Since I've started canning I also started making my own apple cider vinegar. You can make it with just the cores and skin, using the flesh for apple sauce or butter, or whatever you heart desires. I'm excited by the idea of making pear cider vinegar. That's on my list for sure! Thanks for the ideas.


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