How is Pickling Vinegar Made?

Want to know how to make pickling vinegar? Here are some recipes for pickling vinegar, how to use and store them. Pickling fruits and vegetables has been a common food preservation practice for centuries. Even now, people still pickle their fruits and vegetables for efficient storage and preservation. 

Constantly buying pickling vinegar every time you get a bumper crop of vegetables and fruits to preserve, may not exactly be the most cost-effective method. As such, it’s important to learn how to make pickling vinegar on your own.

How is Pickling Vinegar Made? 

how-to make-pickling-vinegar
How To Make Pickling Vinegar

There are several store-bought options available for pickling vinegar. However, a simple homemade recipe for pickling vinegar would require the following ingredients;

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 750 ml vinegar (white wine or white distilled) 
  • Sugar

To prep, wash, and sterilize a jar and lid and set them aside. 


  1. To begin, place a saucepan on low heat and pour in the whole spices. Toast and stir them until they release a scent. It’s best to add the chili flakes last, so they don’t stick to the pan.
  2. Pour in your preferred vinegar and sugar. Allow the mixture to simmer until the sugar dissolves. Then, add the bay leaves.
  3. Take the mixture off the stove and let it sit for a few minutes before pouring it into the clean jar. 
  4. Keep the jar of pickling juice in a dark and cool room until it infuses properly. This could be one week to four months, depending on your preference. 
  5. Afterward, strain out all the spices from the juice and slice your favorite fruits in it. Alternatively, you can even drop them whole in the jar. 

You can let the pickles sit in the jar and acquire the taste you desire for as long as you want. There are a lot of other spices you can add to customize your pickling vinegar recipe. Now that you know how to make pickling vinegar, you can use it to enhance your meals, besides enjoying pickles as a snack.

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Quick Tips to Store Pickling Vinegar for Extended Shelf Life

Recipe For Pickling Vinegar

Thanks to the acidic properties of vinegar, it can last for a very long time. White vinegar, in particular, has an indefinite shelf life due to its self-preservative properties. Vinegar, including pickling vinegar, is unlikely to go bad or expire even after years of use. The storage method might have little impact on its longevity and effectiveness.

Observe the following storage tips to extend the shelf life of your pickling vinegar:

  • Store it in its original container after opening
  • Ensure your homemade pickling vinegar is kept in an airtight container
  • Keep your pickling vinegar in a place away from sunlight and other heat sources
  • Try to avoid putting your vinegar in areas that are subject to temperature fluctuations

You might notice changes in the look of your vinegar after a long time. These changes are harmless and might only alter the appearance of your pickled fruit or vegetables.

Your vinegar might become cloudy after exposure to air. The growth of harmless bacteria in your vinegar is responsible for this cloudiness. However, this does not affect the quality or flavor of the vinegar. You can use a coffee filter to get rid of the cloud.

You might also notice a slimy blob floating at the base of the vinegar container. This amorphous blob is called a “mother” and is not harmful. It only indicates that some sugars or alcohol in the vinegar did not completely ferment. You can also use a coffee filter to take it out. However, a mother can provide some health benefits.

How to Use Pickling Vinegar

Vinegar is the active acidic ingredient in the brine used to pickle your favorite vegetables. To pickle your veggies, submerge them in a sufficient amount of pickling vinegar.

There are several ways of making personalized pickling vinegar, and white vinegar is a good base for any special recipe for pickling vinegar. After boiling your pickling vinegar, pour it into a jar of cut fruits or vegetables. Then, store the jar in a cool, dark place. Depending on some factors, you can preserve your fruits and vegetables for weeks or even months.

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To learn more about the uses of pickling vinegar, read our article on why do we use vinegar in pickling.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is pickling vinegar made of?

The constituents of pickling vinegar differ widely. To make distilled white vinegar, grain alcohol is fed with enough oxygen, enabling bacteria growth and thus forming acetic acid. You can use any alcohol to make distilled white vinegar. However, grain alcohol gives this vinegar a neutral flavor profile.

An essential ingredient of pickling vinegar is the 5% acidity vinegar. This could be white distilled, cider, or malt vinegar. Several vinegar base options are available in pickling vinegar, and they might affect your fruits and vegetables differently. White wine vinegar and white distilled vinegar are the most popular options and do not cause color changes to your pickled fruits.

Pickling vinegar also contains salt. The ideal salts for pickling vinegar are pickling salts and kosher salts. Pickling salt does not have anti-caking properties, which causes the vinegar to get cloudy. Kosher salts do not dissolve as quickly but are also great to use.

Another essential ingredient of pickling vinegar is water. The pickling vinegar to water ratio is usually two-thirds (2/3 vinegar) to one-third (1/3 water), and this ratio creates the recommended level of 5% acidity to pickle your favorite fruits and vegetables properly. This pickling vinegar to water ratio might have to differ slightly depending on the vinegar you use, especially if you are thinking of using rice wine vinegar.

Be sure to follow a proven recipe to avoid the risk of spoilage as the question of “can pickles get botulism?” comes up often even within the pickling community.

A pickling vinegar solution might also contain sugar, which helps balance the vinegar’s acidity. However, you should limit the sugar in your pickling vinegar.

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2. Is Pickling Vinegar Gluten-free?

Most pickling vinegars are gluten-free. Thus, people with celiac disease can consume them safely. Any pure distilled vinegar is gluten-free as the gluten content drops during the distillation process. 

Some types of vinegar (like malt and rye vinegar) which are not distilled may still contain gluten and are thus not safe to consume by people with celiac disease. Some examples of gluten-free options for pickling vinegar include wine vinegar, spirit or grain vinegar and balsamic vinegar. 

3. How Much Sugar is in Pickling Vinegar?

Sugar is not a necessary ingredient in pickling vinegar, but it might help achieve a preferred flavor for your veggies or fruits. It’s best to only include a small amount of sugar in your pickling vinegar recipe. Note that if your vinegar gets too sweet, your fruits might not be able to return to their savory flavor. Usually, the sugar quantity should be at most twice the salt.

How Is Pickling Vinegar Made Summary

So, how is pickling vinegar made? In short, there are several recipes and techniques for making pickling vinegar. Creating the perfect pickling vinegar for you might slightly adjust the regular recipes. Always use fresh fruits and vegetables for your pickles, as they will last longer and taste better. It’s also advisable to use vinegar that is not clouded.

For your ingredients, the kind of salt you also use matters. It is best to go for kosher salt if you want to make pickling vinegar. It’s also essential to mind the water in your pickling vinegar recipe, as hard water can adversely affect the outcome of your pickles.

You can explore several recipes that combine different types of vinegar. This can significantly enhance the flavor profile of your pickles. Note also that the nutritional value of the pickled fruits reduces over time. However, they might still retain their delicious taste after a long while.

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Eve MayHew

Eve Mayhew is a stay-at-home Mum, graphic designer and wife who takes more of a relaxed and practical approach to her lifestyle. She prefers to live a more stress-free life and enjoys food and drink in moderation by counting her blessings rather than counting the calories or feeling guilty over the odd soft drink or fast food fix every now and then. (Contact Author)