Homemade wine vinegar: techniques and tools
What is wine vinegar?
Vinegar is one of he most used ingredients in Italy to season many dishes. The so-called Italian dressing, well known all over the world, is characterized mainly by extra virgin oil, salt and vinegar.
From a chemical point of view, vinegar is obtained by wine acetic fermentation produced by some bacteria called acetobacter, that oxidise the ethyl alcohol of wine when it came into contact with water and oxygen. From a legislative point of view, wine vinegar has to contain more than 6% of acetic acid and less than the 1,5% of alcohol. It can seem difficult, instead, homemade wine vinegar hasn’t all that problematic phases if you follow all the passages in the right way.
What it is necessary to make homemade wine vinegar
First of all you need a proper container, better if it is a glass container with a greatest capacity than the wine that it will contain. Typically, people use small demijohns. The width of the demijohn allows a better wine oxygenation because it enhances the surface exposed to air. There are the so-called “acetiera” (a demijohn for vinegar), usually made of glass but they can be made of wood as well. They have a proper tap placed at the bottom of the container in order to make simpler the tapping of vinegar, without disturbing the acetification process.
The second necessary element is wine. It has to be natural, without elements that can prevent the acetic fermentation, like sulphites. The alcoholic volume has to be below 12 degree, better if 10. If necessary, it is possible to add water, for instance 250 g of water for a litre of wine.
The third element is the so-called “mother” of vinegar. It is a kind of gelatine containing bacteria that make the transformation possible. Other DIY vinegar producers can give it to you, because this substance tends to increase, and periodically it is necessary to remove part of it.
According to some people, the transfer of the “mother” of vinegar can cause the intrusion of unknown bacteria, that can worsen the final result. Thus, it is better to create your own “mother” in the same container of vinegar. You need 250g of good vinegar and a liter of wine, natural and without sulphites. Place the liquids in a demijohn, it is better to close the top with gauzes, to avoid that insects or dust will enter the container. After 15 days, on the surface of the liquid there will be the “mother” of vinegar.
How to make vinegar
Let’s see now which is the typical process to make homemade wine vinegar. Place the “mother” in the chosen container, pour the most suitable wine, red or white, according to your taste. Typically, a couple of litres are sufficient for a domestic use. At the end tap the demijohn with some gauzes.
Place the vinegar demijohn sheltered from the light and at a temperature of 15-27 degrees. Wait for 3 weeks. This period of time isn’t fixed; in fact it can vary depending on the conditions and the nature of the wine. Sometimes this time can ne longer, up to some months. You can check the status of vinegar through the smell or tapping few liquids from the tap placed at the bottom.
The vinegar has to be filtered carefully and also pasteurized to remove the residual alcohol and stabilise it. You should bring it at 80 degrees for 10 minutes.
The maintenance of the vinegar demijohn