Leftover Wine and Fruit Reuse: Vinegar!

By Liesl Clark

Wine aficionados claim that a bottle of wine should be consumed within 36 hours before the perishable liquid inside starts to deteriorate. Once oxygen is introduced, the wine begins to change. Recorking or sucking the air out of it will only deter the deterioration by a matter of hours. Putting the bottle in the refrigerator might help keep it for up to a week, but after that, it’s time to make wine vinegar!

Making Red Wine Vinegar, Photo © Liesl Clark

Vinegars are so easy to make, it’s almost a crime to not make them with your leftovers. In a glass jar combine 2 cups of leftover red wine with a cup of distilled water and some “mother” from a previous organic vinegar you’ve finished and cover the jar with cheese cloth or a clean piece of cotton cloth so air can get in and dust stays out.

“Mother?” You ask.

I Have 3 Mothers, Photo © Liesl Clark

If you look closely at the contents of the bottles above, you’ll find my 3 mothers. They’re from blackberry, apple, and pear vinegars, respectively, and I’ve been hanging on to them so I can use them as a starter for the next vinegars I make. A vinegar’s mother is a gelatinous mass that usually sits at the bottom of your vinegar bottle. It’s a sign that your vinegar is likely organic because it houses a lovely live culture. The mother is actually a type of acetic acid-producing bacteria called “acetobacter” and it consumes the alcohol in your wine, converting it into delicious vinegar.

Up Close With Mothers, Photo © Liesl Clark

If you don’t have a mother with which to start your homemade vinegar, you can find some in the bottom of a jar of Bragg’s Unfiltered Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Until I started making my own apple cider vinegar, this stuff was an essential ingredient in our home. It’ll cure you of any cold and is an excellent rinse for your hair. Save that mother and you’re ready to start making your own vinegars.

The Virgin Mother, Photo © Liesl Clark

What about fruit vinegar? I make my own throughout the year from scrap apple peels and cores when making pies and apple sauce. Blackberries from our vines also make an incredibly delicious vinegar. Simply put your fruit scraps in a jar with some water and a “mother” from another vinegar and cover with cloth so the vinegar can breathe.

Making Pineapple Vinegar, Photo © Liesl Clark

If you get mold because your fruit is on the surface and exposed to air, take the offending mold out and make sure your fruit is totally submerged in the water/mother mixture. Check on your jars periodically, but it’ll take a few weeks for the fermentation and culture to reach its peak. I always go by feel. After about a month I run the vinegar & fruit mixture through a cheesecloth, separating out the fruit but I retain the mother and place it and the filtered vinegar into a pretty bottle and cork it. And as the vinegar ages, like me, it only gets better.

Vinegars Photo © Liesl Clark

Vinegars make great gifts, so you can never make too many bottles! Do you make your own vinegars? Please share your thoughts and let us know what your favorite fruit or wine varieties are.

Interested in more ideas for your leftover food scraps? Please visit our Trash Backwards app where we have ideas for all items in your kitchen garden and home:

Click Through to Find More Great Things to do With Your Food Scraps at Trash Backwards

Click Through to Find More Great Things to do With Your Food Scraps at Trash Backwards

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Categories: DIY, Plastic-Free Living, Repurpose and Reuse, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff


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10 Comments on “Leftover Wine and Fruit Reuse: Vinegar!”

  1. September 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    This came just in time because I have a bottle of red wine that has been open for a week and could make a great vinegar! Check out this link from the EPA that has a photo of a really cool purse made from plastic bags. EPA has citizen webpages where you could send your upscale trash ideas!


  2. September 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Hello you lovely trash backwards peeps. I couldn’t get Bragg’s here in Australia, but found an organic ACV with just a few whisps of a mother at the bottom. I’m hoping, fingers crossed, this is enough for my own. any tips to try and coax it into effectiveness? if it doesn’t work- what about my kombucha mother- can I use that to make vinegar, are they really so different?

    • September 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      Hi Behan! I figure a mother is a mother, no matter what culture she comes from! So, maybe add a little of the kombucha mother to your water and wine or fruit for your vinegar. I’ve also made vinegar without a mother. The sad little bits of fruit tend to take longer to ferment or shall I say ‘age gracefully.’
      — Liesl

    • September 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      Behan, I have great luck making fruit scrap vinegar using this recipe that doesn’t require any existing mother at all – You can culture your own from the air with the help of a bit of sweetener (I use honey, but sugar makes for a quicker bloom): http://food-a-file.blogspot.com/2011/10/fermented-autumn-harvest-fruit-scrap.html I’ve got bottles of pineapple, golden plum, apple, and blackberry going right now this way. Let us know how yours works out!

  3. September 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Thanks Liesl and Rebecca! I’ll let you know how it goes. May try a bit of each. Will be fun to play with some tropical “mystery fruit”!

    • September 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

      Good luck! The key is that yeast turns sugar to alcohol which is then converted to vinegar, so if you’re using more acidic tropical fruits, you’ll definitely want to add sugar of some sort to help the wild yeasties out. I think you’re in for some delicious salad dressings with those mystery fruit vinegars!

  4. October 4, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Reblogged this on vinegarandwater and commented:
    I just wrote a post on Apple Cider Vinegar and I thought this was a great post to compliment it especially since we are all about DIY!


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