The first documented evidence of vinegar being made and used dates back to the Ancient Babylonians of 3,000 BC.  Other cultures that we know had it included the Egyptians and Chinese. By the Middle Ages, Vinegar was being distilled.  The word “vinegar” is French for “sour wine”: vin aigre.  Vinegar made from hard cider was used by the farm wife of 1900 to preserve and flavor foods.  Cucumbers, onions, and sometimes cauliflower, were pickled with vinegar. 

Vinegar is formed from hard cider or a “must” (freshly crushed fruit that contains skins, seeds and stems of a fruit) when yeast and bacteria are present in sufficient quantities to produce a low concentration of acetic acid.  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 speeded up by adding a few cupfuls of the last season’s vinegar to the new batch.