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making fruit vinegarWhat’s the first thing that springs to mind when I say/write ‘vinegar’? In Britain it would definitely be ‘fish and chips’. In an eco-warrior’s house it might be ‘cleaning spray’. I don’t think many people would say ‘fruit’.

I may be showing my age but I wouldn’t be without a bottle or two of fruit vinegar. Just as I like to see a sticky shelf lined up with mismatched bottles of homemade jams (very Little House On The Prairie), I now like to see a few bottles of brightly-coloured, sharp-sweet fruit vinegar alongside. I used to think they were only good for drizzling over fancy salads, but I have come to find that fruit vinegars are as useful to me as ‘regular’ vinegar – just in different ways. In fact, it is a very inexpensive way to make lots of things more special.

Once you see how easy it is to make – and I have included a cheat’s version too – you are sure to find room in your summer schedule to make up a few bottles of jewel-hued fruit vinegar.  You may want to make enough to give away to discerning friends too.

Fruit vinegars are also a good first step to the nerdy but nice world of food preserving: food preservation for the uninitiated. Happily there are no setting issues or faffing with thermometers; just boil it up and bottle. I have only made fruit vinegars a few times but I know that this is something that I will keep up with, adding to my repertoire as new possibilities come into season. I fancy making plum and chili vinegar next. Anyone tried anything like that?

For this recipe use whatever berries take your fancy, so long as they are dry before using. This most recent effort has been a refreshing red currant and rosemary (as inspired by Womersley’s blackcurrant and rosemary) and a fantastically sweet-tart raspberry vinegar. See below for other possible combinations, as well as plenty of ideas of how to use your vinegar. I am thinking that a flourish of raspberry vinegar might be a nice foil for a sweet dessert risotto. Of course it could be a hideous lurid mess, but I may just give it a go.

As for the sweetness. I have cut down a little on the sugar of traditional recipes. You can leave the sugar out altogether but that will give you a different ingredient, with different uses. When using the sugar note that different fruits will need differing amounts of sugar: trust your instincts on how much. For instance, a gooseberry vinegar will need more than a strawberry one. Once bottled and made, use within one year. Not a hard task.

These recipes are easily doubled and tripled.

Extra equipment needed: ‘Jelly bag‘ or large square of muslin/cheesecloth; funnel or pouring jug; sterilised bottles with new corks, swing lids or other suitable closures (cling film and rubber band??)

Optional equipment: large sieve or jelly bag stand (see below)fruit vinegar equipment

raspberry vinegarRaspberry Vinegar

500g (4 cups) raspberries or other berries, brushed gently with a pastry brush to remove any unwanted bits; for stripping currants from their racemes, see image below. Basically, use a fork.

300ml (1 ¼ cups) cider vinegar (I use Aspall organic apple cyder vinegar) or white wine vinegar – malt vinegar is too harsh

Granulated sugar (unrefined if you like)

1. Pop the picked over, dry berries into a large glass or ceramic bowl and mash lightly with a potato masher or fork (masher is easiest). Pour over the vinegar. Cover the bowl with cling film/saran wrap and leave to macerate for 4-7 days. Stir once or twice.

2. Pour the fruity vinegar into a heat-sterilised/scalded jelly bag/cheesecloth hung over a jug. To hang the fruit, draw the four corners of the cheesecloth up and tie in a knot; hang over a tap with the jug underneath. You could also tie it to the handle of a kitchen cabinet. I find it easiest to use a jelly bag-stand combo. I got mine from the grocery store, but any kitchen shop worth the name should stock them (see Lakeland – UK) as well as Amazon (US link). Cheap too. Anyway, let this hang for about four hours. Try and resist squeezing the bag to speed up the process as it will make the vinegar cloudy. I couldn’t resist a gently squeeze (in a hurry); you will see that it is a tad cloudy. I couldn’t sell it like this but it tastes just fine.

3. Measure the fruit vinegar and pour it into a non-reactive saucepan. I got approximately 500ml of vinegar. To this I added 175 grams of sugar. This was plenty sweet for us but do add up to 300 grams. The standard seems to be for every 600ml of vinegar to add 450 grams of sugar. This makes a thick syrup, whereas mine is a thinner one.

4. Bring the vinegar slowly to a gentle boil, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally until the sugar completely dissolves. Boil gently and steadily for ten minutes. Take off the heat. Use a funnel or sturdy pouring jug to help decant the fruit vinegar into the waiting sterilised bottles. Seal and store in a cool dark place.

Homemade fruit vinegar –like good wine, to which it is related – improves with age. Leave it a couple of weeks and you will be blessed with the most exquisite, drinkable (!) condiment imaginable. But, if you are as greedy and childish as I am you won’t be able to resist drinking it hot off the spoon. Delish! Also, I guess I should add, none of these are alcoholic.

Cheat’s Raspberry Vinegar

This is quicker but takes a longer time of maturing to get the requisite deep flavour you probably want. All you do is take the raspberries and pop them into a large pan. Crush them with a fork or masher and cover with the vinegar. Bring to the boil then simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain off the fruit and discard. Return the ruby-red vinegar to the pan with the sugar and slowly bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Let the vinegar simmer gently for 10 minutes before bottling and sealing in sterilised jars. You can make this vinegar without sugar too. It is perfectly fine in salad dressings as is, without maturing.

red currantsRed Currant and Rosemary Vinegar

This vinegar uses freshly picked rosemary.

Do as for above but add two good sprigs of rosemary to the fruit and vinegar maceration. Remove the rosemary after three days (if you forget, that’s okay; it’s just a little stronger) and carry on as above. You may like to pop fresh rosemary in after bottling up, but it will go mushy after a time and it may also impair the keeping quality.

Flavour combinations: strawberry and basil; whitecurrant and lemon thyme; peach and thyme; blackberry, vanilla and mint; gooseberry and lemon balm.

Ideas For Using Your Vinegars: salad dressings with or without oil; marinades (chicken, pork, fish); over fresh fruit or to enliven out-of-season fruit salad; in meringues; in sorbets, granitas/ices; over pana cotta and custards; in sauces, especially meat gravies/jus; to dunk good bread in; drizzled on stewed fruit (especially as a contrast of colour and flavour); with oozing, ripe soft cheeses, pancakes, plain Madiera/pound cake, cheesecake (instead of a coulis/compote). In the past I have bottled up cooked and skinned beetroots with raspberry vinegar and a few added spices. I will be doing it again soon, sharing the simple recipe. Fruit vinegars also make a refreshing drink when diluted with soda water/club soda. And a super ‘pick-me-up’ straight from the spoon!

Here is an excellent piece from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on vinegars and their uses, plus some great recipes to show them off.destalking berriesmashed fruit for vinegarfruit vinegar

70 thoughts on “How To Make Fruit Vinegars: easy, delicious, versatile

  1. lizzygoodthings says:

    What a beautiful post, Kellie… I wish my Peter would enjoy vinegar… sadly he dislikes all vinegars, even fruity ones : (

    1. Mr A’s auntie hates vinegar too. I can understand it but I’m glad I don’t fall into that category. I know what I would be missing.

  2. petra08 says:

    This looks fantastic! I have both red and black currants to pick and what a wonderful way to use them 🙂 thanks for sharing I will try this for sure!

    1. Job done. You are set and ready to macerate!

  3. I totally agree with you about fruit vinegars, yum! I do love The Little Herb Farm’s (Pittenweem) one ‘Mulled Bramble Vinegar’ but I have just made a red currant one with star anise, bay and vanilla and its pretty good. I have some gooseberries which I was planning on using for another brew so I may tap into your brain for things to drop into that. Stunning pics as usual, love your ‘lab’ x

    1. Oooh, LOVE your red currant, star anise, bay and vanilla concoction. That sounds brilliant! Must nick that idea and try for myself. I got my red currants from a neighbour’s allotment. Did you get them from your parent’s garden or did you grow them yourself. What do you use yur vinegar on/with?

      1. Yup, I got them from Dad’s fruit garden (which is all meticulously netted) and its a bumper crop. At the weekend we had it on a cold barley ‘risotto’ which I put roasted butternut squash and red onions through but tonight I plan to do a pulled pork salad, (I remember seeing a recipe which used stewed rhubarb in the dressing along with the usual suspects like honey, soy, ginger etc which I liked the sound of) so along these lines I think.

  4. elamb says:

    I never realised how easy this would be to make, I’ve been looking for raspberry vinegar for a long time. Thanks heaps for sharing 🙂

    1. Homemade vinegars are way better than bought as you can customise the sugar & you’ll use the freshest fruit. I hope you are tempted to get some berries and try this.

  5. Never heard of this before but I will definitely give it a try! Always pleasantly amazed, Kellie!

    1. Great to hear from you Susan. I imagine it’s too hot for berries in GA but if they are ever cheap do give this a try.

  6. This looks amazing, I’ll have to try it!

  7. Such gorgeous colours!! I would love to hear how your sweet risotto goes!! Dessert is definitely my favourite meal! haha

    1. I’m trying to pluck up the nerve to try this. kind of dreamed it would work so maybe I will. Pretty wacky though 😉

  8. It’s such an easy recipe! I had apple vinegar before but never thought making them myself. Thanks for the recipe, which really inspires me.

    1. Well this uses prepared Apple cider vinegar as a base, so you are halfway there if you already have it. Cider vinegar is very common here in the UK but I wonder how common it is elsewhere.

  9. Wonderful!

  10. i look forward to the day that i have the time to do this type of thing! totally divine pictures. I think Raspberries top Strawberries.. love the pictures. Beautiful

    1. It’s really easy so I hope you give it a go. It is so worth the tiny effort.

  11. Brilliant, I’ve been wondering what to do with all my surplus red currants …….that’s the weekend sorted out for me, and I love some of your other flavour combination suggestions….yummy!

    1. Did you see Niki’ s? Now *that* looks divine.

      1. Oh I just read through the replies and found Niki’s…..that does sound good too. Maybe I’ll need to make both…I’ve never been good at choosing between two yummy things! Positively spoilt for choice now.

  12. These sound so good! I love flavored vinegars and olive oils. They add such a unique taste without the extra calories. Yum!!

    1. A little goes a long way with fruit vinegars. What do you do with them?

  13. Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand says:

    Great idea for a post Kellie. I do love a raspberry vinaigrette. I must say some of the flavour combinations you mention above sound equally appealing! Strawberry and basil; whitecurrant and lemon thyme; gooseberry and lemon balm – delicious on some fresh salad leaves!

    1. Ah cheers, my lovely! As I said to another commenter you can ‘tart up’ (foodie humour. Lol) vinegar with most any fruit. The fun bit is deciding what herbs you might like. Love Niki’ s idea.

  14. thespicyrd says:

    Love this post and lots of great ideas! I am partial to Golden Balsamic Vinegar-use it almost anytime I need to add vinegar to something, but this post has inspired me to branch out a little in the vinegar world 🙂

    1. I hope you do. So easy and you’ll think of loads of things to go with them. Endless possibilities in your creative hands x

  15. narf77 says:

    I love this idea and with summer pretending to wave from a slight distance away (blue skies but frigid temperatures) I am starting to think wistfully about salads and such. These vinegars are just what I am after to enliven prospective summer salad gustatory events…I feel a vinegar making session coming on. Cheers for sharing 🙂

    1. Well you can make them with most any fruit, so no need to wait til summer is upon you. Wishing you warm!

      1. narf77 says:

        Warm is my usual state so long as I don’t stray too far from Brunhilda’s sphere of influence 😉

  16. Urvashi Roe says:

    Oh Kellie I am hoping I get another glut of raspberries this weekend on the allotment. Slurp!

  17. Oh my gosh how fun and delicious! I really want to try this! However, we don’t really do sugar in our house any more, would agave work or would that mess with the process?

    1. It should do, no problem. Use your best judgement as to the amount. Acacia honey (lowest GI of a sugar) may be another possibility. I’d be keen to know how this works for you. I’m loving my stash of jewelly jars of fruity vinegars. I hope you like yours too

      1. Thank you! I’m thinking these would be fantastic in all the vinaigrettes I make, or even sweet marinades! I need to check out acacia honey!!! We use honey when we don’t have agave 😉

      2. Perfect! For a variety of reasons I now use acacia honey in preference to agave but both behave similarly in cooking. At least so far! Do let me know if you make some and how it goes. Thanks for your interest. I thought I wouldn’t get any comments on this one 🙂

      3. No way, you have me so excited!!! I love seeing what my fellow bloggers come up with, it’s so inspiring!! And I am going to research the acacia honey, my husband and I try to be well informed in health matters and what is truth versus trend 😉

  18. Jess says:

    wow! this is awesome! i think i just got a great idea for some xmas gifts this year as i have some foodies that i need some unique gifts for. thank you! 😀

  19. I always wanted to try fruit vinegar but am concerned with it going bad

    1. As long as you use it within a year and use sterilized bottles it should be fine. Making actually vinegar itself, the fermentation of apples, grapes, rice or whatever, to make vinegar is a whole other issue. I’ll leave that to the experts!

  20. Sally says:

    Amazing colours – love the sound of red currant and rosemary

  21. Crista says:

    love this, i’d definitely like to give this vinegar-making a try. i spend a lot of $$ on flavored vinears…..

    1. I did too. I am thrilled to find that it is so easy. And weirdly fun, too!

  22. Fruit vinegars got popular here lately, spread from Taiwan about their health benefits. Looks pretty easy except need to find an alternative for the stand.. and some suitable tropical fruits

  23. Nazima says:

    This is a lovely idea Kellie. We had tried some shop bought fruit vinegars with different flavours (rasberry and chilli is a great one) and they have worked so well in dressings and when pickling but to make one’s own is a great idea – this has opened some ideas up for me so thank you so much for sharing xx

    1. Hi Nazima. I will soon be writing up something pickled using raspberry vinegar, chilies and a couple of other herbals. Coincidence! With bought vinegar they are always too expensive to do much more than use sparingly but with homemade you can branch out a bit and experiment. I hope you do. Thanks for commenting x

  24. klopez415 says:

    Any suggestions for apple cider vinegar? I’ve heard it’s really good for you and just bought a bottle, but I haven’t figured out what to do with it!

    1. It’s what I use for the base of my fruit vinegars. Otherwise, it’s a straight sub for white wine vinegar, but tastier imho. Some people have a tablespoon a day medicinally, but not sure I’d go that far 😉

  25. The photos look so delicious, definitely want to give this a try at some point!

  26. Sharon says:

    this is a great blog, been looking for fruit vinegars since embarking on a health heating plan to help rid me of arthritis. I don’t want to eat bland foods for the rest of my life and thought the best healthy but low calorie alternative would be different fruity vinegars for a bit of varied interest. However, not easy to find…will be doing my own now! thanks so much x

    1. I’m really glad this has helped. They are SO easy to make. I bet you’ll be vinegaring everything given half a chance! I would also recommend borrowing/buying a good preserving book. If you are in the UK I really like the Pam Corbin one, part of the River Cottage handbooks range. Great advice in there. Good luck – I hope it help! Also, I use turmeric for my joints. See my turmeric milk post for details. It is still on the sidebar

  27. Aaron says:

    I love your raspberry vinegar recipe! I’ve used it in a couple of shrub drinks and with a raspberry steak.

  28. trees says:

    what about walnut champagne vinegar. I buy it and its wonderful with walnut for light summer salads and on steamed veggies. Never thought of making my own, but seems like it should work. Anyone every done this. ?

  29. michele eve says:

    Thanks for this – vinegar draining as I type and looks an amazing colour. I tasted a little and like you am sure that reducing sugar will be perfect. Trying it with cider vinegar…

  30. Marian says:

    I just infuse smashed berries and bruised herbs in apple cider vinegar for a week, stirring every day, then strain and keep in the fridge. It has loads of flavour and a beautiful colour. I dilute with water/sparkling water/soda water. I don’t have a sweet tooth so don’t add sugar or sweeteners but you could. So clean and refreshing.

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Hi Marian. Thanks for your helpful comment. I do that too most of the time as I don’t have a sweet tooth either. This recipe makes it more like a balsamic-style glaze, which is useful. :-). In fact I’ve got elderflower vinegar with no added sugar, and this comment reminds me that I need to strain it today!

  31. Eve Dean says:

    The Fearney Whittingstall recipe is excellent making 2 x 250ml bottles with his suggested quantities. I’ve been pleased with raspberry, raspberry and strawberry combined and even some rhubarb and orange. Now I am going to try gooseberry for my next experiment. Can I make fruit vinegar from frozen soft fruit? If so how do you go about it please? Eve, West Sussex

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Hi Eve. That’s a good question and easily answered, thank goodness! Yes, it’s fine to use frozen fruit. Just set it out to defrost and bring up to the boil slowly, adding less water than a recipe calls for. But basically it is the same process. And makes winter time jam making a fragrant and homey option. 🙂

  32. Rzan Sharp says:

    I’m a vinegar hater but I was given a bottle of gooseberry vinegar and loved it. Must have a go at making my own.

  33. Tamra says:

    I want to use pears and tarragon–both from my garden. Do I have to use sugar (or any sweetener) or can I skip the sweetener part and use as is after the maceration and straining steps?

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Hi Tamra. Great question. From what I have read, you can do this, but the vinegar should be refrigerated and used within 6 months. I hope this helps 🙂 PS I love the sound of tarragon with pear in a vinegar!

      1. Tamra says:

        What if I did the boiling part but omitted the sugar? Would that keep longer?

      2. kellie anderson says:

        Hi, Tamra. 8m really not sure. But the fact you are using proper vinegar will kept it well. Refrigerating is just a precaution. Perhaps Google search on no sugar fruit vinegar protocol?

  34. Tamra says:

    Kelly, at the time I started asking you these questions, I was unable to find this info. I have since found what I wanted by searching “fruit infused vinegar.” Using the word “infused” made all the difference for what I wanted, without any sweetener. What I learned is that you have to go through the heating process after the maceration step to pasteurize it. Then it will keep indefinitely. Thank you for your help!

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