How to "make" unpasteurized ACV

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by LTygress, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2012
    I raise betta fish, so I started raising vinegar eels to feed the babies. I love it because I can just set up the culture, and leave it alone for MONTHS, and still come back to live vinegar eels. Today I just randomly did some more reading on them, and caught a new article that stated vinegar eels are non-parasitic and actually not harmful at all if consumed - but U.S. companies filter them out and pasteurize the vinegar just to keep consumers happy.

    So with more research and reading, I found out that vinegar eels can essentially be healthier for our chickens because of the necessary "mother culture" of vinegar itself which can only be found in UNPASTEURIZED vinegar. And with that, I'm going to share how to raise them, for those who can not find unpasteurized ACV in the store for their chickens. (As an added bonus, vinegar eels are a source of protein. Not very much, but a source none the less!)

    You start with a large jar (I use old pickle jars, sent through the dishwasher and allowed to dry completely), a bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar, tap water, and... a starter culture. You can use a slice of apple in there as well if you want, but it's up to you.

    The starter culture is the most difficult. You have to find someone that already has vinegar eels. You might have some luck in some larger cities, but I didn't have anyone near me. I do have a culture going now, and I'm thinking about selling them, but still need to get many more cultures rolling for that. In the meantime, you can go to and get one for $8 total ($3 culture, and $5 shipping).

    Now fill the jar roughly halfway with apple cider vinegar. I keep mine below half so I have plenty of room for air in there too once it's done. Now add enough tap water to make a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. If you want to use a slice of apple, toss it in there now.

    Let it sit for about a day or two. Keep an eye on the top of the liquid, and make sure it doesn't get a film across the top. If it does, simply stir it or shake it up until the film falls down into the water and no longer sits on the top. Then watch it for another couple of days for the same thing. If no film develops across the top, you're ready to add the starter culture. It's okay if it develops in some areas along the top, like up against a small piece of apple, as long as it doesn't cover the entire surface.

    Now simply add the culture, and let them go. Cover it with a piece of cloth, secured with a rubber band, to keep flies and gnats out. As long as I'm careful, I can use one ply of a non-lotioned kleenex for this purpose. Put it in a dark place or semi-dark place (most people put them under the sink in the kitchen) and leave them alone.

    The vinegar eels, and the solution they came in, will start the mother culture of vinegar, as well as the eel culture. It takes roughly a month to ferment to be considered a full-out culture. But anything after that is still fine. This culture can stay for up to a year, and still be viable!

    After a month you can start using it for your chickens, or start a new culture. For a new culture, just make a new jar with ACV and water (plus apple, if desired) and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the old culture. You can go bigger if you want with rubbermaid storage containers, or smaller with various jars from the kitchen like old cherry jars.

    Now if you feed fish with it, you have to filter out the eels with a coffee filter and "rinse" them to reduce the acid transfer from the vinegar so the PH of the fish water won't spike so quickly. But if you're giving it to chickens, just add it to their drinking water as-is, in the dosage you normally give. For chickens, you can leave bits of apple in it, leave the vinegar eels in it - or go with dual-purpose and give the eels to your pet fish, and the vinegar to your pet chickens, like I do!

    So if you ever run into the problem of not finding UNPASTEURIZED apple cider vinegar for your chickens, now you know how to make some - and a healthier version at that!
    1 person likes this.
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Thanks for posting the info. Interesting reading about them, had heard of the nematodes /Vinegar Eels but not really read anything about them. Didn't realize how much they were used as fry food.
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    Fascinating. I had never heard of these vinegar eels until you wrote about them here. I was curious about Bragg's ACV, since it's unfiltered and unpasteurized. I figured they screen their vinegar for these critters, because it would gross people the heck out. I wrote them and their response is posted below. I might try growing some of these myself at some point!

    "Thank you for your email. Every batch of vinegar gets tested for vinegar eels, and no batches out on the market have tested positive for vinegar eels, you can be assured they do not contain any. Have a healthy day!

    Blessings of Health

    Bragg Customer Service

    Tel: 1-(800)-446-1990

    Email Signature Logo"
  4. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2012
    You can make vinegar without them. It's just that having them proves that the "mother culture" of vinegar itself is there. But for chickens, it really is just another source (although a small one) of protein. Well, it could be a source for humans too, but I don't know of too many people willing to use vinegar that actually has the eels in it.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by