So, this time last year, I came into an abundance of pears and made a delightful pear cordial.
During the cordial-making process, I ended up with a big bowl full of pear cores, stem bits, and bruised chunks that I deemed unfit for inclusion in the cordial. Instead of dumping these into the compost, these became an experiment in vinegar-making!
To make vinegar, you need a few things…a fermenting liquid and “mother of vinegar” are the most important. For this recipe, we’re using the pear chunks, but apples, pineapple skins, papaya skins, homemade beer, or wine should all work as a good starting place.
The “vinegar mother” is a plug that looks a lot like a translucent, white jello. If you’ve ever made kombucha, you’ll recognize a vinegar mother right away. To get a batch of vinegar going, you’ll need some vinegar mother, whether it is a packet or tube you get at a homesteading shop, or just shake up some live vinegar (Braggs ACV works!) and pour in a bit to get it alive and growing!
Pear Vinegar Recipe
- pear scraps, peels, cores, and bruised bits
- a jar or crock that they all fit in
- water (preferably without chlorine)
- mother of vinegar (you can purchase one, or just use a bit of live vinegar)
Put all of the scraps and peels into a jar or crock. I ended up with one huge pickle jar half full of pear bits. Some people add sugar to help the fermentation, but I have not tried that, and did not find it necessary to the overall process.
Pour the water over the pears.
Cover the jar or crock with a cloth and tie or rubber band it into place to keep out the dust and bugs. This cloth also allows it to breathe as it ferments and becomes alcoholic.
Set it aside on your counter, or in a cabinet. You want a spot out of direct sunlight, but don’t forget about it! After a day or two, little bubbles will appear as the pear and water begin fermenting. Now we are ready to add the mother, since she needs alcohol to do her magic!
Strain the pears and solids out and return the liquid to a clean, wide-mouthed jar or crock.
Add the mother of vinegar. For this recipe, I grabbed my bottle of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar and shook it up to mix it, then poured in a glug (probably about 2 tbsp worth). Apples and pears are so similar that the apple cider vinegar mother was just fine. If you want to make a more specific vinegar – malt vinegar or wine vinegar, for example, you’ll want to find a mother specific to that type.
Recover the jar or crock with the cloth and rubber band, because the fruit flies are going to be SO EXCITED about your new project.
After a day or so, you’ll notice some white, ghostly oil slicks appear on the surface of the liquid. It will continue to grow, until you have a healthy mother of vinegar. The vinegar mother looks like a white, translucent, rubbery plug on the top of the ferment.
This video shows you my very first batch. One correction: the mother is made up of cellulose and acetic acid – not yeasts, like I mistakenly narrate in the video.
After a month, I strained the vinegar into a large bowl with a spout, and then from there into sanitized bottles. The bottles were labeled and stored away in my basement for later use! They are bright yellow, and they each have their own little skin of mother at the top of the bottle. Nice! It has a clear taste that is like apple cider vinegar, only with a bit of pear flavor. It will do fine for fire cider, hair rinses, and all the other purposes to which I employ vinegar!
I left the mother and enough liquid to cover her in the jar, so that she could be kept and used again. She lived on my counter with a cloth over her lid. Whenever I had a bit of homebrewed wine or live fermented liquid to share with her, I did, and it kept her going.
Soon after, I acquired a half bushel of apples and restarted the experiment using those peels and cores. I started another jar with papaya and pineapple skins. They were all going well until we went out of town for a few days. In our absence, we had a mouse move in and my mother jar and vinegars were destroyed by the mouse crawling over the cloth-covered jars. Ah, well! Live and learn!
Resources & references for my process:
- The Nourishing Cook – How to make fruit scrap vinegar
- Homemade Fruit Vinegar Recipe by Organic Authority
- The joys of homemade vinegar – TX Adventures in New England