Storage Equipment for Homemade Vinegar

white wine vinegar

Storage Equipment for Vinegar

Allowing the vinegar to age for several months will mellow its sharpness and develop flavors much like in winemaking. It is a good idea to transfer the finished vinegar into a separate container for aging. Use a small wine barrel or a large glass jar with a lid or several smaller jars. Make sure to close the container to eliminate the oxygen so your acetobacter will not continue to work. Store in a cool, dark place where you have a steady temperature.

If you want to add an oak character to the vinegar and you don’t have a barrel for aging, add oak cubes for a period of time before bottling the finished vinegar. Boil the oak cubes for 1 minute before adding them to your vinegar. ¼ cup of toasted oak cubes placed in one quart of vinegar for one week will add a nice oak character to red wine vinegar. You can experiment with amounts of oak and time to come up with the right character for you. Add the oak toward the end of your aging period so that you can strain them out when pasteurizing and bottling the vinegar.

How to Use Oak Vinegar Barrels

Installing the Spigot

The spigot must be installed in the side wall of the cask by inserting it into the pre-drilled hole and adjusting it so that the nozzle is pointing straight down. Use a mallet or light hammer to tap the spigot into place until it cannot be pulled out by hand.

Preparing the Cask for First Time Use

During storage and shipping it is possible that your cask has become dehydrated. When this happens the staves (wooden slats) will shrink slightly and gaps may open between them. In other words, the cask will leak. Even if you think the cask looks sound, you must perform this step. Failure to do so will result in the barrel soaking up the first liquid you fill it with. Remove the cork top and set it aside. Place the cask right side up in a sink or pail and fill it with cool water. Open the spigot and allow all of the water to drain out. This will moisten the wood inside the spigot and rinse any sawdust away. Close the spigot and refill the cask. Allow the water to overfill on to the top. The cask should be left filled for eight hours. Use the spigot to drain and then refill the cask again. This time fill just to the bottom of the cover. Place the cover on top and allow the cask to sit over night. The next day, check the water level in the cask. If it is unchanged, the cask is sound. If a significant amount of water is missing you will need to check for leaks and allow the cask to soak until it is water tight.

Sanitizing the Cask

Drain the cask and close the spigot. Place one campden tablet in a small plastic bag and crush it into powder. Pour the powder into the cask and fill the cask with warm water. Allow the cask to sit for eight hours. Drain the cask and then rinse with cold water three times. Your cask is now ready for use.