Vinegars have been made for thousands of years, with some of the first being made in ancient Egypt and Babylonia. Apple cider vinegar is formed from hard cider or a “must” (freshly crushed fruit that contains skins, seeds and stems of the fruit) when yeast and bacteria are present in sufficient quantities to produce a low concentration of acetic acid.
Vinegar was widely used in food preservation, recipes, and home remedies. Because of this, farmers made their own vinegar each season. First, a wooden barrel was filled one-third to one-half full with hard cider. The barrel was then tightly covered and turned on its side. The bung was removed and the hole covered with a cloth. It took three to nine months, depending on the temperature, for the naturally-occurring yeast and bacteria in the cider to be converted to acetic acid resulting in vinegar. The process could be sped up by adding a few cupfuls of the last season’s vinegar to the new batch.