(Photo courtesy of girlgonegranola.blogspot.com)
Vinegar has numerous uses from cooking to cleaning, but apart from those wishing to be more green or back to earth homesteaders vinegars many uses have been forgotten over the past generation or two.
There are a multitude of Vinegars that can be made from Red Wine Vinegar to Balsamic, etc., however for this post I will concentrate on the more simple type since in most of the U.S. and most of the readers here wine is not so easy to come by especially in a grid down scenario.
To make Vinegar first you will need some sort of liquid that contains ethanol, that could be beer, wine or hard cider (if you are a home brewer or live in apple country this will be easy). Another substance you can use is just plain old sugary drinks, from fruit juice to sugar water.
If you live in an area that has apples or you have planted apple trees in your yard then this will work beautifully.
The amount produced will depend on how well you do this so experiment a bit to get the right amount.
1) Wash/Clean the apples and cut them, skins and all, into tiny pieces and mush them up with your hands and feet (or a juicer if available).
2) Strain it through a Muslin or similar bag into a pot.
3) Pour the juice from the pot into clean, dark glass jugs or mason jars and cover the tops with cheesecloth or cotton shirts and fasten it with twine or a rubber band.
4) Let sit in a cool dark place (root cellar works perfect) for six+ months.
5) Once done (you will know by the smell) strain and bottle it.
If you have a lot of apples and make cider or pies, etc. you can let the cider sit for a long while and it will turn into vinegar, or you can take the waste from the production of cider and pies, etc. and store it in a jar or crock and cover with cold water. keep adding the waste cores and peels to the crock (keep in a warm place for this method) and over time it will develop into vinegar. Taste some good cider vinegar now to get your taste buds trained because this method is based on you tasting it to see if its strong enough. Then strain and bottle.
To make the cheap and easier version i described earlier using sugar water, just take that liquid and pour it into a clean jar (large) or stainless steel container.
The way to get your first batch going and to be a “starter” for future batches is to start now. Get yourself a good bottle of unfiltered, unpasteurized vinegar or if you want to spend a little cash order a starter/culture from a winemaking/homebrew supply store (see below picture or click link to the left).
Add this starter or proven vinegar to your concoction and let it sit. Its important if you are making it for taste to use a proven bacteria starter that will give you a decent taste right off the bat, or you will have to test and experiment to make one of your own. Once you have your first batch made your can use some of that to add to future batches and have no need for any more of the original starter once its used up. This is a great way to be self sustaining for harder times.
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