[Sca-cooks] Making vinegar?

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Fri Nov 13 13:46:44 PST 2009

Gunthar asked:
<<< I'm thinking about learning to make vinegar.

Any sources on vinegar making? I'm thinking of
trying some when we get moved into the new house
and I have a garage. >>>

The easiest way to make vinegar seems to be to try to make wine. Or  
apple cider.

Well, at least that is what I got from several attempts to make apple  
cider. Some I just got yuck.  The one time I actually got apple cider  
was by accident. :-)

This file does mention making vinegar in period.
vinegar-msg       (92K)  1/10/08    Vinegar in period. Making vinegar.

Well, here's a message on *flavoring* vinegar:
Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998 15:18:26 -0600
From: vjarmstrong at aristotle.net (Valoise Armstrong)
Subject: Re: SC - Flavored Vinegars

Christianna asked:
 >A fellow in my group asked me last night about period recipies for
 >flavored vinegars.  Any ideas?

Looking through Rumpolt's Das New Kochbuch I found a flavored vinegar  
never seen before

Wenn man gedoerrten Meerrettichwurzeln pulverisiert in Essig thut/  
macht jn
bald scharpff.
When one puts pulverized dried horseradish in vinegar it makes it sharp
before long.

Sabina Welser also has a vinegar recipe on kind of a large scale:
     Take a jug into which can hold twenty quarts and  spread it with  
next take two pounds of tartar and pound it small and put it into the  
take four ginger roots, some thirty or thirty-two peppercorns, take
fourteen quarts of good vinegar and pour it in the jug, take six  
quarts of
good wine and bring it to a boil and skim it off. Afterwards let it cool
somewhat and pour it into the jug and let it stand for four weeks. See  
you do not stir it up, then it will be good and keep well.

Has anyone ever tried to make vinegar from wine or beer? I've seen  
recipes that call for hanging a cloth bag of sourdough in the wine or  
and letting it ferment, but I don't have any sour dough starter right  
so I haven't given it a try.


Well, since one period method involved putting beer or wine in barrels  
and shipping it by sea, you could do the same, but have your squires  
or apprentices toss the barrels around for a long time. Afterall this  
could be excused by saying you were helping to build up their muscles  
and coordination.

There is also this information from the same file:
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 03:56:22 EDT
From: CorwynWdwd at aol.com
Subject: Re: SC -making vinegar (longish)

stefan at texas.net writes:
 > Well, a bit longer than overnight. One of the period ways to speed  
 >  up was apparently to put the vinegar-to-be barrels on board ship and
 >  ship them somewhere.

Makes sense.. the motion of the ship would probably aerate the wine a  
speeding the mother along. Nowadays in factory production of vinegar we
actually pump the stuff over the mother on big aeration racks, over  
and over
again. Speeds the process up immeasurably.

Perhaps my own poor efforts on vinegar making aren't clear though.  
After a
quick and dirty websearch I found this, it might help. It's from the  
State University Extension site. While it deals with cider vinegar, wine
vinegar can be made the same way. There are brewing supply places that  
vinegar mother, but I have had NO trouble getting started with  
vinegar from a health food store.

The Ohio State University Extension
Human Nutrition
1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43212

- ----------------------------------------------------------------------

Making Cider Vinegar at Home
Two factors require special attention when making vinegar at home:  
supply and temperature. Oxygen is spread throughout the mixture by  
it daily and by letting air reach the fluid through a cheesecloth  
which is used in place of a regular lid. The temperature of fermenting  
should be kept between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Lower  
do not always produce a usable vinegar, and higher ones interfere with  
formation of the "mother of vinegar." Mother of vinegar is a mat that  
on the bottom of fermenting wine that has gone bad.

Do not use a metal container when making vinegar; acid in the mixture  
corrode metal or aluminum objects. Glass, plastic, wood, enamel, or  
steel containers should be used for making or storing vinegar. The  
same holds
true for making or storing foods that have more than 1 Tablespoon of  
in the recipe.

Steps for Making Cider Vinegar
The following steps must be followed to make a high-quality cider  

Make a clean cider from ripe apples.

Change all of the fruit sugar to alcohol. This is called "yeast

Change all of the alcohol to acetic acid. This is called "acetic acid

Clarify the acetic acid to prevent further fermentation and  

Step 1--Making Cider
Cider is made from the winter and fall varieties of apples (summer and  
apples do not contain enough sugar). Fruit should be gathered, then  
well to remove debris. Crush the fruit to produce apple pulp and  
strain off
the juice. Use a press or cheesecloth for straining.

Adding yeast to activate fermentation is not essential, but will speed  
up the
process. Special cultivated yeasts are available for this purpose at
wine-making shops and biological labs--bread yeasts are not  
recommended. To
make a starter, crumble one cake of yeast into one quart of cider.  
This makes
enough starter for 5 gallons of cider; double the recipe  
proportionately when
making more.

Steps 2 and 3--Making Alcohol and Acetic Acid
Pour all of the liquid into one or more containers to about three- 
capacity; do not close the lids on the containers. Stir the mixtures  
Keep the containers away from direct sunlight and maintain the  
temperature at
60 to 80 degrees F. Full fermentation will take about 3 to 4 weeks.  
Near the
end of this period, you should notice a vinegar-like smell. Taste  
daily until the desired strength is reached.

Step 4--Filtering
When the vinegar is fully fermented, filter the liquid through several  
of fine cheesecloth or filter paper--a coffee filter works well for  
This removes the mother of vinegar, preventing further fermentation or
spoilage of the product.

Storing Your Vinegar
The vinegar is now ready for storage in separate, capped containers.  
vinegar will stay in excellent condition almost indefinitely if it is
pasteurized. To pasteurize, heat the vinegar before pouring it into
sterilized bottles, or bottle, then place in a hot water bath. In both  
the temperature of the vinegar must reach at least 140 degrees F to  
the product, and should not exceed 160 degrees F. Use a cooking  
to ensure the correct temperature is met. Cool the containers and  
store at
room temperature out of direct sunlight.

Flavored Vinegar
Flavoring can be added to homemade vinegar just before bottling. Good
examples of additives include green onion, garlic, ginger, or any  
of dried or fresh herbs. To make flavoring, place material in a small
cheesecloth bag and suspend in the vinegar until desired strength is  
This will take about 4 days, except for garlic, which takes only 1  
day. For
every 2 cups of vinegar, use one of the following: 1/2 cup crushed fresh
herbs, 1 tablespoon of dried herbs, 2 large cloves of garlic, or 8 small
green onions. Other good flavorings include tarragon, basil, nasturtium,
chives, mint, chervil, borage, hot chilies, and raspberries. Adjust the
amounts to taste, but be careful not to overload the vinegar. Too much
vegetable matter can destroy the acid and ruin the preservative  
quality of
the vinegar.

Some flavorings may not go well with cider vinegar's distinct taste and
color. When flavoring store-bought vinegar, use more delicate or  
flavors. When flavoring store-bought vinegar, you will still need to
pasteurize it and use sterile bottles.

Flavored vinegars taste great and have a beautiful color, making them
excellent for use in salads. You will be tempted to display flavored  
however, be sure to keep your bottles out of direct sunlight, which will
destroy the flavor, acidity, and color of the vinegar.

Uses for Homemade Cider Vinegar
Because the acidity of homemade vinegars will vary, do not use them in  
to be canned or stored at room temperature. Homemade vinegar is,  
excellent in salads, cooking, or freezer and refrigerator pickled  

Prepared by
Christine Nicholas, Intern
Doris Herringshaw, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences

Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2000 12:40:41 -0500
From: "Michael F. Gunter" <michael.gunter at fnc.fujitsu.com>
Subject: SC - Non-Member submission from Luanne Bartholomew

 From http://www.nowheat.com/fooddb/food/vinegar.htm

Distilled vinegar is not distilled. The name merely means that it is  
from distilled alcohol. This is done in a fermentation process in  
which the
fermenting bacteria, a species of Acetobacter, oxidizes the added  
alcohol to
acetic acid. The fermentation mixture is filtered and diluted to give an
acetic acid concentration of about 5%. This is vinegar. It does contain
nitrogenous material which is in part derived from the nutrient mixture
added to the fermentation in order to keep the Acetobacter growing, and
in part from those bacteria that die and disintegrate during the

This acetic fermentation is common to all vinegars so that they all  
the same kinds of nitrogenous 'contaminants', although in differing

...[T]he ethyl alcohol from which [distilled vinegar] is made is  
from a yeast fermentation mixture. (In the UK, however, I believe that
'distilled vinegar' has a different meaning, that it is made from malt  
that it is in fact, distilled.) In most of the world, molasses, which  
can be
fermented directly by yeast, is the major source of alcohol. Alcohol  
is also
made synthetically from petroleum products but I do not believe that  
from this source is much used in the food industry. In the U.S.,  
derived from grains are the major source, mostly (about 85%) from corn.

End quote.

Hope this helps.

Luanne Bartholomew
(Amorwynne of Dalriada ... for now)

Here are a pair of period recipes for making vinegar, from the same  

Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 23:12:17 -0400
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
From: "Cindy M. Renfrow" <cindy at thousandeggs.com>
Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Sekanjabin

 > I was looking for a period recipe for vinegar yes. I make my own  
and am
 > having problems documenting it.
 > Elewyiss

This is from my new transcription & translation of Liber cure Cocorum, a
15th c. cookery book in dialect & verse, from Sloane MS 1986. This is 2
recipes in one for making vinegar in a hurry. The first method uses a  
hot poker dunked 9 times in strong vinegar & then in wine to sour the  
The second method uses roasted beans, steeped in vinegar, to sour good

4.  To make venegur in a nede,
Take a gad of stele, I wot indede;
In strong venegur [th]ou schalt hit fele
ix sythes in venegur, [th]er-of [th]ou rek,
A-bere with [th]e hete hit [th]ou may,
And in goode wyne sleck hit I say;
Hit shalle be venegur, I wot hit wele,
To serue at a tyme at fest or mele.
And rosted benes, [th]at steped hau[e] ben,
Goode wyne schalle turne to venegur bedene.

4.  To make vinegar in a need,
Take a goad of steel, I know indeed;
In strong vinegar you shall it defile
9 times in vinegar, thereof you take care,
[Make] it scream  with the heat you may,
And in good wine slake it I say;
It shall be vinegar, I know it well,
To serve at a time at feast or meal.
And roasted beans, that have been steeped,
Good wine shall turn to vinegar anon.

(Tr. copyright 2003, Cindy Renfrow.)


For more on vinegar, there are also these other files as well.

Vinegar-art       (20K)  6/26/01    "What's so special about Vinegar?"  
                                        Mistress Christianna MacGrain.
Vinegar-NJFCC-art (18K) 10/23/01    "Vinegar: Not Just for Cleaning  
                                        by THL Mirin ben DhIarmait.

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas          StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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