How to Make Vinegar from Scratch

by Kaitlynn Fenley

My easy fermented fruit vinegar recipe requires only three ingredients: fruit, sugar and water. This is the perfect recipe to use up fruit scraps, overripe fruit, and any fruit you have in abundance. You can use this recipe to make homemade apple cider vinegar, apple scrap vinegar, berry vinegar, and more!

How do You Make Vinegar?

Vinegar is made via a two-part fermentation process. First, yeast consuming sugars within fruits and grains and produce alcohol; this is known as alcoholic fermentation. Second, acetic acid bacteria consume the alcohol from step one and convert it into acetic acid. Once all the alcohol is metabolized by bacteria and converted into acetic acid, you have vinegar.

To make vinegar at home, you first essentially make wild fermented fruit wine, and then that wine turns to vinegar!

You can see in this image that the vinegar mother has formed.
It is the floaty white pieces in between the apples.

How to Make Vinegar from Fruit

It is so easy to make vinegar from fruit. You only need three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and water. It helps if you have some raw apple cider vinegar with the mother as a starter, but it is not necessary. You can use pretty much any type of fruit to make vinegar. I suggest sticking to high fructose fruits and staying away from high sorbitol fruits. These are two types of fermentable sugars found in fruits, and high sorbitol fruits tend to cause kham yeast.

These are my favorite fruits to use:

  • apples
  • pears
  • mango
  • strawberry
  • grape
  • figs
  • watermelon

To make vinegar from fruit, you just need a good bit of whatever fruit you want to use, water, and some organic cane sugar. You also need a large glass jar. For this recipe, I suggest a gallon glass jar and a cloth cover with a rubber band. You have to use a cloth lid when making vinegar because acetic acid bacteria require oxygen to convert alcohol into acetic acid. I usually make cloth lids for fermentation by cutting up old t-shirts.

How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar

There is a slight difference between apple cider vinegar and apple scrap vinegar. The recipe in this blog post is more similar to an apple scrap vinegar, even though I use the whole fruit and not just scraps. In order to make “true” apple cider vinegar, you need to first make apple cider, and then change that apple cider into vinegar.

Here’s my blog recipe for making apple cider at home. Once you make apple cider, you can turn it into vinegar by adding a vinegar mother and covering with a cloth lid. It should take about 4 to 6 weeks to turn the apple cider into vinegar.

I think my recipe (below) is easier and more functional for making vinegar at home. It’s definitely easier than going through the whole process of making cider first. It is slightly less acidic than apple cider vinegar, but still delicious. Plus, this method is applicable to many types of fruit or mixes of fruits.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

I still call the vinegar I make using this recipe “apple cider vinegar” when I make it with apples. It tastes almost exactly like the ACV I buy at trader Joe’s, and I bottle it in recycled apple cider vinegar bottles from the store.

The keys to remember when making ACV or any fruit vinegar at home:

  1. Stir the vinegar once daily. Remove the cloth lid, give it a good stir, replace the lid and repeat daily until you strain the vinegar.
  2. You must use a breathable cloth lid. The microbes involved in vinegar production require oxygen to convert alcohol to acetic acid.
  3. Use a clean glass container. It is best to use glass when fermenting acidic vinegar. Clean your equipment well before getting started.

What do you use fruit vinegar for?

I use my homemade fruit vinegar in any recipe where I would use store bought vinegar. Since fruit varies in sugar content depending on ripeness, the acidity of each person’s vinegar will vary a bit depending on the fruit used. It may or may not not be adequate for pickling and canning pickles. To make a strongly acidic vinegar you can use more sugar, and use fruits high in fructose, like mangoes. You can also test the pH with a pH strip to see if it is good for pickling/canning. Vinegar that is safe to use in pickling recipes should be approximately 2.4 pH (about 5% acidity).

Here are my favorite ways to use homemade vinegar:

  • for homemade salad dressing
  • in homemade bone broth
  • in heirloom culturing recipes like this fermented cherry tomatoes recipe
  • in mineral-rich hydrating drinks (I like to mix a tablespoon of fruit vinegar into a quart of water with a splash of coconut water, orange juice and a pinch of sea salt for a homemade hydrating “gatorade”)
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How to Make Vinegar from Scratch

My easy fermented fruit vinegar recipe requires only three ingredients: fruit, sugar and water. This is the perfect recipe to use up fruit scraps and overripe fruit. You can use this recipe to make homemade apple cider vinegar, apple scrap vinegar, berry vinegar, and more!

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • fermentation time: 9 weeks
  • Total Time: 1512 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 gallon 1x
  • Category: Vinegar
  • Method: Fermentation

Ingredients

Scale

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of fruit*
  • 255 grams of organic cane sugar
  • Water
  • 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar with the mother

Supplies

  • 1 gallon glass jar
  • cloth covering
  • rubber band

Instructions

  1. Please read the recipe notes.
  2. Chop the fruit into small chunks.
  3. Add the sugar and apples (or other fruit) to a 1-gallon glass jar.
  4. Add water to the jar until full.
  5. Add in a few tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar with the mother. This helps establish a good microbial community, and while it isn’t absolutely necessary to add I highly recommend it. If you’ve made vinegar before and have a vinegar mother, you can add it.
  6. Stir the mixture until all the sugar is dissolved.
  7. Place a cloth lid on the jar and secure with a rubber band.
  8. Stir the mixture once or twice a day and allow to ferment at room temperature for three weeks. Don’t forget to stir it. I like to just do it first thing in the morning each day.
  9. You should notice the mixture bubble within one week.
  10. After three weeks of fermentation, strain out all the fruit pieces, replace the cloth lid and allow the mixture to ferment for 6 more weeks.
  11. You will notice a vinegar mother form on the surface (it looks like a kombucha SCOBY but is very light in color). You can keep this to start your next batch of fruit vinegar.
  12. After fermentation, bottle the vinegar and seal it with a solid lid. Store at room temperature in your pantry.

Notes

  • you can use any of your favorite fruits in this recipe. High fructose and fructan fruits tend to make the best vinegar. See a list of my favorite fruits above the recipe card.
  • Vinegar works best with a starter culture. While it is possible to make vinegar without it, adding a vinegar mother or raw apple cider vinegar with the mother to the mixture ensures success. If you have a kombucha SCOBY or raw kombucha, you can sub for that with good results.

Keywords: vinegar, apple cider, fruit

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29 comments

KOBI ENG July 18, 2022 - 2:43 am

Hi Kaitlynn,
In terms of cleaning equipment and ingredients, I have two questions:
1. How do you sterilize big jar for making sauerkraut ? ( I usually rinse it with boiling water, rinse it again with cold water, rinse third time with medical alcohol 70°C and scrub it with clean towel )
2. Should I boil the water and let it cool down before making Sauerkraut?

Thank you Kaitlynn! Truly grateful to find your unique among most of misleading and unscientific posts on the Internet! ( Recently, I just commented on your post of Water Kefir 🙂 )

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Ms Clare Huggett July 21, 2022 - 8:19 am

Fantastic well explained recipe thank you. Can I use this for making things like homemade dill pickles or isn’t it acidic enough? If not can I make a more acidic one as would like to do the whole process myself

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Kaitlynn Fenley July 21, 2022 - 8:49 am

Since fruit varies in sugar content depending on ripeness, the acidity of each person’s vinegar will vary a bit depending on the fruit used. It may or may not be adequate for canning pickles. To make a strongly acidic vinegar you can use more sugar, and use fruits high in fructose, like mangoes. You can also test the pH with a pH strip to see if it is good for pickling. Vinegar that is safe to use in pickling recipes should be approximately 2.4 pH (about 5% acidity).

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Chelsea Pastula July 25, 2022 - 2:09 pm

Hi Kaitlyn! For step 9, do you continue to stir once daily throughout the next 6 weeks of fermentation? Thanks for sharing!

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Kaitlynn Fenley July 25, 2022 - 2:38 pm

Hi there! Once the fruit is strained off, you no longer have to stir it daily.

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icy July 27, 2022 - 7:06 am

Hello!
thank you for the recipe! 🙂

In turkey we usually stir it until all the fruit sinks (app 3 weeks) then we let it sit with the fruit for another 4-6 weeks than strain and again let it sit for 1 week then add a little bit of salt and bottle it.

I was wondering what is the difference between these two different recipes..thank you <3

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Kaitlynn Fenley July 27, 2022 - 8:02 am

Either method is fine and results in good vinegar. I’ve made it before as you describe, leaving the fruit in after it sinks and it came out great. I don’t add salt to vinegar, but you can if you want.

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Ding August 3, 2022 - 6:26 am

Miss Kaitlyn,
When the sealed bottle of vinegar is stored at room temperature, will it not continue to ferment if not sterilized?
Thank you.

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Kaitlynn Fenley August 3, 2022 - 8:36 am

The microbes in vinegar fermentation are aerobic (they require oxygen to ferment). So when you put the vinegar in a sealed bottle with a solid lid, fermentation halts.

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Ding August 4, 2022 - 12:21 pm

Ms Kaitlynn,
Thank you so much for your reply. So that’s why when I left my finished pineapple and dark beer vinegars in their jars with breathable covers (as advised by an online source) they developed multiple “scobys” and eventually got molds and putrid smells and had to be discarded. I am now encouraged to try and make vinegar again. Many thanks.

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Ding August 3, 2022 - 7:12 am

Ms Kaitlynn,
Re my previous comment, I meant pasteurized, not sterilized! So sorry.

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Nechamah pascal August 8, 2022 - 9:49 am

Is there any way to do this without sugar as I am not allowed to have sugar

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Kaitlynn Fenley August 8, 2022 - 10:04 am

No, sugar is necessary to the process.

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Mariaelena Jara October 8, 2022 - 7:42 am

Hi Kaitlynn. I’ve made vinagre with apples a couple of times with results improving every time. But in my last batch I completely forgot to add the sugar, and was tempted to discard it, but then decided not to. So in week 2 I added sugar just in case, like 3 spoonfuls, and let it sit and continued the process. When the time came to finish the process I had no faith in it and It came out the best vinegar ever! I doubt I’ll ever get one as good as that one!
Cheers from Santiago, Chile.

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Crysta Pogue September 7, 2022 - 4:38 pm

Hello, wondering if you could help me trouble shoot something? I made up a gallon of this and forgot to stir for a few days. Just took the cloth cover off to stir and there is mold growing at the top of the jar. I’m assuming it’s no longer safe to use? Would that have happened because I forgot to stir or is it from another cause? Just want to confirm before I start the whole process again! Thanks so much!!

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Kaitlynn Fenley September 8, 2022 - 10:55 am

The mold definitely grew because you did not stir it. It is no longer safe. The stirring is not optional, It prevents mold and it introduces oxygen to the mix so that acetic acid bacteria can grow and form a vinegar mother.

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Crysta Pogue September 8, 2022 - 9:21 pm

Thank you for your response! That’s what I figured but I’m glad to know for sure before giving it another go. I’ll set a daily alarm this time around. 😉

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Carissa October 7, 2022 - 4:47 pm

To store this, can I just put a screw top lid on the jar? Is that sufficient for “sealing” it?

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Kaitlynn Fenley October 7, 2022 - 4:48 pm

yes!

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Lisa Salisbury November 5, 2022 - 5:38 pm

Just started a batch! Crossing my fingers it will work for me. I used the scraps from making apple butter—so peels and cores from 6lbs of apples! My question is when you say “bottle and seal with a solid lid” do you mean like can it with a hot water bath canner so the lids seal like I do with jam?

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Kaitlynn Fenley November 6, 2022 - 6:16 am

No, I just mean bottle it and close the bottle with a solid lid fit to the bottle.

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Jim November 6, 2022 - 3:07 pm

When we made vinegar, the cloth covering was not tied on well and gnats got into the vinegar. Will this contaminate the vinegar?

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Kaitlynn Fenley November 7, 2022 - 8:15 am

It can. If it was a fruit fly, they can lay eggs in the jar…

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Julie Johnson November 15, 2022 - 5:59 am

Thanks so much for the great content. I’m eager to try this, along with several of your other recipes. About the sugar – I try to avoid refined sugar as much as possible. Is the sugar “eaten” during the process? Can you use honey instead? Will it change the taste? If so, do you recommend the same quantity as the refined sugar?

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Kaitlynn Fenley November 15, 2022 - 7:29 am

The sugar is all used up in vinegar production. The microbes turn all the sugar into alcohol and then the alcohol into acetic acid (vinegar). You can use honey! It works great. You should use the same amount.

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Donna November 22, 2022 - 10:40 am

Hello Kaitlynn,
I’d like to use pumpkin scraps to make pumpkin vinegar. Will this work as with other ingredients?
Thank you

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Kaitlynn Fenley November 22, 2022 - 10:46 am

Yes, pumpkin should work fine in this recipe!

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Sabrina November 23, 2022 - 7:19 pm

Un consulta, despues de este paso “Después de tres semanas de fermentación, cuele todas las piezas de fruta, vuelva a colocar la tapa de tela y deje que la mezcla fermente durante 6 semanas más.” Se cuela la fruta y que se hace con el liquido y la fruta?? Te quedas con el liquido y tiras la fruta???

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Kaitlynn Fenley November 26, 2022 - 8:06 am

You strain the fruit out of the liquid, and you keep fermenting the liquid in the same jar… the liquid is the vinegar.

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