The Story of My Redbud Flower Wine and Its Transformations

When I read Pascal Bauder's book "The New Wildcrafted Cuisine" I got so inspired by his taking wild plants- fruits and flowers- and turning them into alcoholic beverages. He has a whole section about that in his book, including how to make these beverages without any added yeast, just using the wild ones in the area.

Mid March I took a bunch of foraged redbud flowers and mixed them with sugar and water and let them sit, to see what would happen to them. I don't remember the exact proportion of sugar to water...

I specifically did not wash the redbud flowers first, to make sure that there would be wild yeasts on it.

After about 2 weeks, I tasted it and the taste was definitely mildly alcoholic and pleasant. I enjoyed it as a drink, and it was beautiful too!

I enjoyed my redbud wine at first, but as time went by, it got stronger and stronger- partially because I put too much sugar in it, I'm sure- so I didn't drink it as much... but I found other uses for it.

I made a delicious sauce for this wild dairy free panna cotta out of my redbud wine (recipe for the panna cotta in my foraging cookbook, Penniless Foodie in the Wild) and it was out of this world, on top of being really beautiful (in my not so very humble but truly accurate opinion, haha).

Cashew milk panna cotta topped with redbud and wisteria blossoms, with redbud wine sauce and mallow flowers and dotted with foraged carob syrup.

After that, my husband complained about my wine sitting on the counter for so long (that big jar takes a lot of room), so I stuck it in our pantry under our stairs and kind of forgot about it until today, when I went to fetch the jar because I wanted to make some alcoholic iced tea.

When the jar jostled around I saw something strange- something at the top of it was jiggling!

Oh, a kombucha mother! was my first thought. But that didn't seem right, because this wasn't kombucha, and how would it have gotten a mother? And then I realized the obvious- it wasn't a kombucha mother- it was a mother of vinegar! 

My redbud wine must have become redbud wine vinegar!

I taste tested it, and yup, definitely. 

Honey, we certainly do have vinegar!

Some people might be disappointed if their alcohol turns into vinegar. But me? Not one bit! I regularly use vinegar in my kitchen, whether apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, regular wine vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, kombucha vinegar, etc... and I often end up paying far more than I'd like for my vinegar since I'm avoiding synthetic vinegar. I've tried making homemade vinegar before but it's been hit or miss, so I haven't bothered to recently... So discovering that I accidentally made vinegar is definitely not something I'm disappointed about one bit.

I transferred my vinegar into some other bottles to be able to have my big jar available for my new ferments, and already started making things with it.

I set aside the mother of vinegar and will attempt to make more vinegar with it, perhaps using apple cores.

I made a really delicious salad dressing with the redbud wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, a bit of jaggery syrup, salt, and garlic powder and it was amazing.

I served it over a salad made from foraged lambsquarter leaves and purslane, home grown beet greens, free nectarines that my husband got through his work, and a purple onion. Super frugal, very healthy, and divine!

I can't wait to put this redbud wine vinegar to use!

Next up?

I'm thinking a shrub type drink...

Have you ever made any homemade alcoholic beverage without any added yeast? How did it come out?
If you're a brewer, have you accidentally made vinegar before? What turned into vinegar, and what was your reaction?
What are your favorite uses for vinegar, especially more "exotic" vinegars?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I wonder if this is how vinegar was discovered? Someone wanted to make alcohol and just forgott about it until there was something completly different? And not wanting to throw it away found all the amazing things you can do with it. :D

    1. Who knows? Possibly. Probably. Without all the chemicals used in modern wine and beet making to stop the fermentation people probably got vinegar more often.

  2. My dad once tried to make wine from the grape vines they had growing outside their apartment, it didn't work but it make the best wine vinegar I've ever tasted. Enjoy your redbud vinegar I'm sure it's incredible!

  3. That's awesome! I had some naturally fermented soda do the same thing one time. I had corked it instead of using a bottle cap, and the cork blew and the soda just sat in the cooler for months. Two of the bottles had cute little "mushrooms" on top!

  4. If the flowers are never washed, what do you do about all the little bugs that were surely inhabiting the flowers? (This is not a bash, I am genuinely wondering.)

    1. That's not a bash. That's a reasonable question. Some species I find their flowers incredibly buggy-like mustard flowers-so I rarely ever use them. I find Redbud flowers are never buggy. But even if they were.. I strain out my wine/vinegar with a cheesecloth so I'm left only with liquids no solids.

  5. I've found little insects inside most redbud blossoms I picked earlier this year. Just saying...

  6. Sounds good. It didn't say in the post anything about straining so I was wondering, but it makes sense as you'd want to get rid of the flowers too obviously.

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