Last year I challenged myself to try and learn two of the traditional skills that our great-grandparents used in everyday life; soap making and making homemade vinegars. I like homemade versions much better than store bought for most everything because I feel like homemade items are usually of better quality and I enjoy the process of making my own stuff.
I decided to pass on the soap making when I discovered the life changing concoction known as Black Soap. I like this soap so much that I have lost all interest in even trying to make my own soap which could only be a pale imitator at best. Seriously, this is a great soap that I discovered in Old City Remedies which is the old apothecary shop in St. Augustine, Florida. I have seen this type of soap on Amazon too, but when I run out I’ll reorder from the super nice ladies at the shop.
With soap making off of the table, I went ahead with my project of making homemade vinegar.
After a few weeks, I got nervous that I was doing it wrong because it didn’t smell vinegary so I added a half cup of raw red wine vinegar from the health food store to help it along. That did the trick because pretty soon I could smell a very distinctly vinegary smell coming from the cloth covered opening of the mason jar. Success! I had red wine vinegar and it was far more complex and flavorful than the stuff from the grocery store. Somehow my vinegar retained some of the characteristics of the wine it was made from even though it was made from at least 4 different types of leftover red wine. My guess is that it tastes good because the wines I used to make it are wines that we enjoy drinking, and the commercial stuff may be made from “cooking grade” wine that you would not normally drink on its own.
Once the vinegar tasted good to me, I poured it through a strainer into an old wine bottle and corked it for use as my everyday vinegar. I left about a half cup in the mason jar and just continued to add my leftovers until the mason jar was about 2/3 full, and then waited until it once again tasted good to me.
Now I simply add to the jar when I have leftover wine, pour it out into bottles when it tastes good and repeat the whole process over and over. I am thrilled that the vinegar tastes so yummy in my salads, I have a sense of satisfaction that I am making it myself and I like that I am not wasting good wine now that I have a purpose for those random leftover amounts.
Emboldened by my vinegar success, I decided to try other fermented food products. I currently have my first batch of Kombucha brewing in my pantry and I made a moderately successful sauerkraut. I will post about those experiences soon.
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