While it’s easy to go to the store and buy a bottle of vinegar, it can be very satisfying—and tasty!—to make it yourself. All you need is a clean jar, some alcohol, a “mother” (the starter for the fermentation process), and at least 2 months to allow the “mother” to work. Once you’ve mastered a general-purpose vinegar recipe that can be used with practically any type of alcoholic beverage, you can move on to more specialized recipes for wine vinegar, cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or—if you are willing to wait at least 12 years—balsamic vinegar.
Clean a 64 fl oz (1.9 L) wide-mouth glass jar with soap and water. You can use ceramic crocks or even old wine bottles to make vinegar, but wide-mouth glass jars are easy to find and easy to work with. Remove the lid and ring (you won’t need them here), then thoroughly wash and rinse the jar with dish soap and warm, clean water
Sterilize the inside of the jar with boiling water. Boil a pot of water, place the jar in the sink, and carefully fill the jar with boiling water. Pour out the water once you can safely handle the jar—it will take at least 5 minutes to cool enough to touch.
- Make sure the jar isn’t cold when you pour the boiling water into it—the rapid change in temperature could cause the jar to shatter. Rinse the jar with hot tap water to warm it up, if necessary.
- This method won’t sterilize a jar to the extent required for safely canning or preserving food. It is, however, adequate sterilization for making vinegar.