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How is white vinegar made?  RSS feed

 
Rebecca Norman
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For some purposes I'd really like to have neutrally flavored white vinegar. We could make apple cider vinegar, or barley wine vinegar, but for packing things like capers, these flavors might be inappropriate.

I googled around a bit but couldn't find how to make white vinegar. Any ideas?

Thanks.
 
allen lumley
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Rebecca Norman : I am reaching the outside edge of my knowledge here, but I believe most White vinegar comes out of a test tube /chemistery set !

Think 5000 gal vat. The purity of this white vinegar is probably (I Think) measured as 1 part per million, a much higher lower percentile
of possible contaminates than the real stuff !

For safties sake most prosessed food manufactors use the white, check the lable ! I hope this was timely and helps ! Big AL
 
Ludger Merkens
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Hi Rebecca,

I don't know, what white vinegar actually is. I know of 2 candidates:
First candidate is created by diluting pure alcohol (ethanol) with water and making vinegar from it. The second almost neutral tasting vinegar is wine-vinegar. You use the wine from grapes to start your fermentation.

I'd choose the second for most purposes.

Ludger
 
Rebecca Norman
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Somebody on this forum said that white vinegar is made by bubbling oxygen through pure alcohol, but then couldn't find any links so maybe that's not it. Traditionally in Ladakh, people distill barley wine into a clear alcohol called arak. So I'd be willing to make vinegar from arak, or to make any kind of vinegar and distill it in a method like distilling arak, if that's possible. I just have no idea about the actual method.

I'm hoping to get 5% acetic acid diluted in water, without other coloring or flavoring materials in there.
 
allen lumley
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Rebecca Norman : If you want to try this as an experiment, go for it! Basically it comes down to the price of the equipment !Less equiptment/time/money

would be involved in just filtering regular apple cider vinegar ! Big AL
 
Ludger Merkens
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Hi Rebecca,
I googled 'white vinegar' and now know, it is the first of my 2 candidates.

To make 'white vinegar' you need rectified alcohol, also known as ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin. This alcohol is diluted with water to a remaining alcohol content of about 13% to 14%. Then nutrients for Acetobacter are added. This solution is usually fermented by refilling a fermenter that is half full with the rest of the last batch of fermentation. This gives you approximately 4 % alcohol und 9% acetic acid when starting the fermentation. The fermentation will be stopped, when the remaining alocohol has a concentration of 0,3 % and approximately 12,7% acetic acid. Half of the batch is removed, and the fermenter refilled with the prepared alcohol solution as described above. The other half will be filtered and used/stored/bottled.

Ludger
 
Rebecca Norman
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allen lumley wrote:Less equiptment/time/money would be involved in just filtering regular apple cider vinegar ! Big AL


Would filtering apple cider vinegar make it lose the color and flavor? That would certainly be easiest but would it work? I need the vinegar for food products that have their own flavor and shouldn't have other flavors (eg I'm helping a local guy start a local food production business, and we've made capers and are selling them, but packing them in commercial synthetic vinegar, which kind of spoils the local food idea. But cider flavor would not be right on capers.)

Ludger Merkens wrote:
To make 'white vinegar' you need rectified alcohol, also known as ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin. This alcohol is diluted with water to a remaining alcohol content of about 13% to 14%. Then nutrients for Acetobacter are added. This solution is usually fermented by refilling a fermenter that is half full with the rest of the last batch of fermentation. This gives you approximately 4 % alcohol und 9% acetic acid when starting the fermentation. The fermentation will be stopped, when the remaining alocohol has a concentration of 0,3 % and approximately 12,7% acetic acid. Half of the batch is removed, and the fermenter refilled with the prepared alcohol solution as described above. The other half will be filtered and used/stored/bottled.
Ludger


Thanks, could you share the link you found that on? It sounds promising.
 
John Elliott
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From the Wikipedia entry on Acetic acid bacteria

The acetic acid bacteria are usually airborne and are ubiquitous in nature. They are actively present in environments where ethanol is being formed as a result of fermentation of sugars. They can be isolated from the nectar of flowers and from damaged fruit. Other good sources are fresh apple cider and unpasteurized beer that has not been filter sterilized. In these liquids, they grow as a surface film due to their aerobic nature and active motility. Vinegar is produced when acetic acid bacteria act on alcoholic beverages such as wine. Fruit flies or Vinegar eels are considered as a common vector in propagating acetic acid bacteria[2] in nature.


So maybe that rotten apple sitting under the tree isn't so useless after all. Just dunk it in your arak and let the bugs have a go at it. But do note that you are going to have to do an aerobic fermentation. Unlike the yeast that do alcohol fermentation and the lactobacilli that do sauerkraut fermentation, the acetobacters are going to want to breathe.

I have to confess, I have not tried making vinegar via the natural route. I go for convenience and buy the 25% acetic acid (a German import) and dilute it up as needed. Probably originates in a big chemical plant in Dusseldorf, but that doesn't scare me off.
 
Ludger Merkens
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Hallo Rebecca,

well the source is a german chemistry book. I translated the description given there as background information - sorry no more details to find there. Especially not on the nutrients necessary for the acetobacter to strive on pure alcohol. I didn't expect, you actually want to do this chemistry style fermentation. But I can try to find more details.


sorry
-- Ludger

(german description of the 'normalverfahren' online)
 
Leila Rich
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Rebecca Norman wrote:we've made capers and are selling them, but (...) commercial synthetic vinegar(...) spoils the local food idea

I'm pretty sure white vinegar only exists in an industrial form; it certainly has a distinct taste of 'the lab' to me.
all the traditional vinegars I've tried have a flavour from the alcohol they came from.
I've never pickled them myself, but the capers I've eaten are pretty strong,
and I think the taste would be enhanced rather than swamped by a flavoured vinegar?
The recipes I looked up pretty much all asked for wine or apple vinegar.

 
Rebecca Norman
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Well, yes, you're probably right, a more natural vinegar might not matter. I'm helping a friend here get a sort of gourmet locavore business set up. He's making capers, local jams and preserves, and some other things, and it looks like there's a market for non-imported capers among a certain network or shops and restaurants in India. So we want them to be as much like the imported ones as possible, and I think if we used a noticeably flavored or colored vinegar, some of the buyers would prefer to buy the imported ones instead. In this first year we used commercial vinegar, which is just diluted acetic acid.

Well, I'll try making it from the local distilled white alcohol as described above, though the instructions above aren't quite complete, but might help improve my googling, or could be the basis for experimenting.
 
Ludger Merkens
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I'm helping a friend here get a sort of gourmet locavore business set up.


Well you probably know your target market better then me. But if you go for a 'gourmet' market, I'd expect wine-vinegar, apple-cider-vinegar etc. from locally sourced materials, to always have the better marketing potential than white vinegar. At least here, 'Branntweinessig' as we call 'white vinegar', is the cheapest quality you can get. With our local gourmet audience in mind, it probably would take some efford, to explain why to use it. Is - as often - the problem the solution? Put some marketing emphasis on the rich flavours of your locally produced vinegar - as superior to the cheap industry stuff - and perhaps you can even sell it pure (in a pretty bottle of course).

Ludger

 
Ludger Merkens
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Hi Rebecca,

I had a talk to a bee keeper in the neighbour town, who is producing mead and honey vinegar from his honey. He substitutes a small amount of his own raw unfiltered honey for the commercially availiable vinegar nutrient tablets. He mentioned, that those nutrients are especially important to start the process.

good luck
Ludger
 
Miki Odendahl
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White vinegar is fermented grain vinegar, usually corn, that has been fully fermented, filtered, and then distilled. The distillation process leaves all the starches and coloured bits behind in your boil pot. I use a stainless steel pot still for this.

FYI: If you decide to go this route, you need to know that the resulting vinegar is highly concentrated and corrosive and will eat through plastic and wood faster than you can write down your zip code. It must be diluted at least 10 -1 or more to be safe for use.
 
Socrates Raramuri
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people, people, people... Too complicated!
What is vinegar? It is alcohol that's been exposed to oxygen. Make apple cider, leave it out in the open, get apple cider vinegar. It is 1 + 1 = 2
So if you'd like a vinegar that's more neutral tasting, just leave white wine or vodka out and it will turn into (wine/white) vinegar.
In our industrialized society we're obsessed with emulating factories in our homes, but what matters is to understand the underlying principle. And then there's common sense.

So-called modern brewers will tell you that to brew ale or wine you have to use some specific yeast and make sure all instruments get cleaned immaculately. But people have been brewing for millennia without all that jazz. I myself have been brewing for years and i neither waste time cleaning with chemicals or boiling the ingredients to death; making mead, i throw honey in water, add yeast, and let nature run it's course. I have yet to have a batch go bad. (To be honest, there is one thing i do try to get right, and that's not to put out 'bad vibes' when i'm starting out a brew; god knows what 'bad microbes' that might attract...) What i'm trying to say is, complicated does not mean better or more successful.

White vinegar? Buy a bottle of white wine or vodka, open 'r up and wait a few weeks; the alcohol will have turned to vinegar. Bob's yer uncle.
Making vinegar is not one of the things we have to spend hours researching.
 
Rose Pinder
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does it matter what proof the vodka is? ie will higher proofs still convert?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I estimate that about 90% of vinegar is synthesized in a laboratory, and 10% is made biologically. If a "white vinegar" doesn't specify that it is of biological origin, and if it doesn't have mother in it, then I presume that it is from a chemistry lab and not from a fermentation vat.

When I make vinegar out of vodka, it doesn't end up white. It's some shade of yellow.


 
Miki Odendahl
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The white vinegar you buy at the store, Heinz in particular, is pressure distilled from GMO field corn, and is often made (at least in Minnesota and Wisconsin) from the mash left from ethanol production. I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole.
 
William Bronson
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Miki Odendahl
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That's actually a good idea. Rice vinegar only takes a month to make.
 
John Master
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from what I know yes white vinegar is made with franken corn, great household cleaner, does not go in our food. last bottle of rice wine vinegar had corn syrup in it I think, I remember chucking it. Have I ever mentioned how much I love our food system btw.
 
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