Fruit vinegar is easy to make, and almost any fruit can be used to make vinegar with varying levels of intensity. I have made pear, apple, and plum vinegars using wild fruit from the bluffs of southeast Minnesota. There are many resources to make great fermented products at home; “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz is a great place to start. The equipment for vinegar can be found at your local homebrewing shop.
There are a few simple rules to follow when making vinegar a home:
- Do not use fruit with any mold or rotten spots on it.
- Do not use a metal vessel when making vinegar; the acid is corrosive.
- Try to use local organic products wherever possible.
- Food grade 5-gallon bucket with lid
- Wooden spoon
- Glass bottles and corks
- Bucket full of fresh, wild foraged pears
- Filtered water (enough to cover pears)
- One quart of cane sugar per gallon of water
1. Roughly cut up all the pears, skins and all, and put them into a sanitized 5-gallon bucket.
2. Dissolve your sugar in warm water and pour over fruit until covered.
3. Place cheesecloth over bucket and move to a warm dark place to rest for 2 weeks.
4. As the mixture oxidizes it will slowly turn darker in color over the 10 days or so.
5. After 2 weeks strain out the fruit and let the liquid sit, covered with the lid, for up to 4 weeks, stirring occasionally. Note: A layer of “frothy scum” will form on the top of your vinegar. Don’t worry, it’s natural, just strain off when bottling.
6. Taste the vinegar every few days until your desired acidity and flavor is achieved.
7. Heat the vinegar to 140°F to stabilize (be careful not to overheat—higher temps will ruin your hard work. Skip this step if you want raw cider vinegar.)
8. Bottle your vinegar and cap them with the corks. You can add other flavors to your individual bottles for diversity in flavors (oak chips, spices, etc.).
9. Give away all the vinegar you won’t use to friends and family to share the love.
10. Enjoy within 6 months.