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jedovaty

vinegar mother: odd growth, and make one's own

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Hi!

Question 1:  Check out the odd growth in my attempted vinegar mother in the photos.. what is it, should I throw it out, scoop it off and continue?

Question 2:  Is it possible to actually make one's own vinegar mother? 

 

Backstory for question 1:

Having recently read the Noma guide to fermentation, I got this great idea that I would try to make my own vinegar mother.  My inner mad scientist loves to do things the hard way.  20 year ago my father and I made and bottled wine from garden grapes.  It's been stored in the basement since.  I opened a bottle and it tasted astringent and had a sharp aroma similar to isopropyl alcohol, but still had some reminiscence to wine.  According to everything I've read, it would be best to drop the alcohol level from typical wine to about half (I forget the percentages at the moment, it's been 4 months).  I had no clue what alcohol level this wine was when we bottled it, since it was done seat of the pants style.  Assuming it had typical wine alcohol volume, I diluted it with distilled water at 1:1 ratio.  I also stuck a stone fish bubbler in there.  The bubbler disintegrated in about 6 weeks, this was about 2.5 months ago.  When I removed the bubbler back then, I tasted the liquid, just for laughs, and it was "meaty", in sort of a salami kind of way?  Fun.

 

Now, it's been left untouched since and I even forgot about it.    Today I happened to go into the room, and saw the growth.  I'm suspecting I contaminated the experiment with either the bubbler or the when I tasted the liquid (I may have double dipped... oops.. but I don't remember, and I don't think I'd do something that stupid, but, who knows).  If it were the bubbler, not sure why the other jar is fine.

 

Comment on Question 2: I know I can purchase a vinegar with live cultures and use that to start a mother.  Not interested in doing this the easy way, and instead, would like to try to get one to spontaneously create itself from this old wine.  Still have about 20 bottles to experiment with 🤪  Anyone have tips how to do this?  Searching internet doesn't give much more useful information beyond buying something already live.  I keep this in my downstairs spare bedroom, temp ranges 68-75F.  Humidity is usually about 70%, but drops if I run the AC (as i have in the last couple weeks). 

 

Thanks for reading and any suggestions :)

 

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Looks like some nasty mold to me (I hate mold!!)

 

Personally I would toss it, but others here will have far more knowledge/info than I on the matter!

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I've had this happen rarely.  I use a ladle, removed the mold colonies and the mother  and discard it carefully sealed in a plastic bag, trying to disturb it as little as possible so it won't expel spores.

I then pour the vinegar into a saucepan and bring it to a boil and allow it to cool. 

Transfer it into a clean, sterilized jar and transplant some of my backup mother, add some wine or boiled and cooled fruit juice.

I have never had molds re-establish in the same batches using this method.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Thanks, TT and DT.  I got rid of it.

 

Now to continue waiting, hoping the mother will spontaneously will itself into existence some day.  Funny how I cannot find any information on how to do this anywhere...!

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1 hour ago, jedovaty said:

Thanks, TT and DT.  I got rid of it.

 

Now to continue waiting, hoping the mother will spontaneously will itself into existence some day.  Funny how I cannot find any information on how to do this anywhere...!

You can buy a bottle of Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar with the "Mother" - there are a couple of other brands that carry it and 

start your vinegar with at least a full pint bottle of the Bragg to which you add at least two bottles of red wine or white wine, 

keep it in a place away from direct light, covered with a permeable cloth that has been sterilized with boiling water (dry it in a very low oven, not in the dryer). After three weeks (it takes about 20 days for the mother to "take hold" of the wine) you can add another bottle.

I have my vinegars in larger containers with spigots at the bottom so I can draw off vinegar without disturbing the mother. You can add either wine or fruit juice (boiled and cooled) once the mother is established. 

It takes about 6 months and 5 bottles of red wine for it to convert completely from the cider base to the red wine base for regular wine. If you use a SWEETER dessert wine, it converts more rapidly and with less wine. The mother likes sugar.

It takes longer with dry WHITE wine but can be sped up with sweeter wines. I did a batch with 2 bottles of Liebfraumilch and one bottle of Riesling that converted in 3 months. Couldn't taste even a hint of the cider.

Amazon and others online SELL wine mothers.

These photos are of my main red wine, which is easiest to access in my big pantry. 

This mother was started in 1994 - after the January earthquake when my old GLASS carboy broke when something fell on it. 

I got this at a restaurant supply place, BPA free and acid-proof.  

HPIM3801.thumb.jpg.bbfd2d2c9ea95d5ebd1cf24ca5c214a8.jpg

 

 

The mother is a solid, disc-shaped mass that floats just below the surface. I "feed" it at least every 6 weeks, usually with boiled and cooled grape juice (I juice my own grapes).  From time to time friends who are wine enthusiasts bring me bottles of opened and not finished wines from one of their parties.  (I don't drink alcohol because of a severe allergy.) 

 

HPIM3802.jpg.0337b683fffeb463a8d89331ce065130.jpg

 

 

 I drew off some and tested the Ph which is right at 2.7, which I consider ideal. 

 

HPIM3804.thumb.jpg.c59bd2936b025fd55171328fce608482.jpg

 

This vinegar can be poured over crushed ice, seltzer added and drunk as a cooler.  

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I have several books on vinegar history, production, various homemade as well as commercial types.

I have made vinegars from  many fruit juices, starting with either the cider vinegar mothers or one converted to white wines.

 

Apricot, pineapple, peach, pear, persimmon, coconut, passionfruit (from when I lived in the San Fernando valley and had an extremely prolific passionfruit vine), blueberry, raspberry, quince, gooseberry, kiwi, tomato, strawberry, white fig, currant red and black.  

I also made vinegar from cane syrup - a friend brought me a half gallon from Jamaica and being a diabetic, I decided to convert it to vinegar - which is done in Jamaica and I had tried the Jamaican product some years earlier. 

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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1 hour ago, andiesenji said:

I have several books on vinegar history, production, various homemade as well as commercial types.

I have made vinegars from  many fruit juices, starting with either the cider vinegar mothers or one converted to white wines.

 

Apricot, pineapple, peach, pear, persimmon, coconut, passionfruit (from when I lived in the San Fernando valley and had an extremely prolific passionfruit vine), blueberry, raspberry, quince, gooseberry, kiwi, tomato, strawberry, white fig, currant red and black.  

I also made vinegar from cane syrup - a friend brought me a half gallon from Jamaica and being a diabetic, I decided to convert it to vinegar - which is done in Jamaica and I had tried the Jamaican product some years earlier. 

How would you describe the vinegar made with the cane syrup?

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4 hours ago, Kerry Beal said:

How would you describe the vinegar made with the cane syrup?

It is less "sharp" than most vinegars.  It has a very slight flavor that is somewhat "vegetal" and very pleasant.

It makes great mild pickles and I used it to make shredded ginger pickle.  However mostly I used it in marinades, especially for chicken and pork.  

I also forgot to include  that I made a lovely vinegar with maple syrup that I used almost exclusively in fruit salads.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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7 hours ago, andiesenji said:

It is less "sharp" than most vinegars.  It has a very slight flavor that is somewhat "vegetal" and very pleasant.

It makes great mild pickles and I used it to make shredded ginger pickle.  However mostly I used it in marinades, especially for chicken and pork.  

I also forgot to include  that I made a lovely vinegar with maple syrup that I used almost exclusively in fruit salads.

Thanks. Might be interesting to start with Golden Syrup and see what results.

 

I made a fabulous maple syrup vinegar once - never repeated sadly!

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Posted (edited)
On 8/6/2019 at 2:49 PM, andiesenji said:

You can buy a bottle of Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar with the "Mother" - there are a couple of other brands that carry it and

(snip)

Amazon and others online SELL wine mothers.

 

Thanks for the information!  As I mentioned in both my above posts, perhaps not clearly enough, I am not interested in making a vinegar this way.  I'm trying to create the mother without a starter culture, similar to the way people makes a starter sourdough culture, or a ginger bug, etc.  If you search for "how to make vinegar", nearly all results provide similar instruction to simply purchase Bragg's or some other vinegar with active cultures and go from there.  Again, this is not what I want to do. My inner mad-scientist wants to do things the hard way :) Sadly, I haven't found any instructions or details/info on this yet.  Thanks again for trying to help out, though, it's appreciated!


Edited by jedovaty (log)

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, jedovaty said:

Thanks for the information!  As I mentioned in both my above posts, perhaps not clearly enough, I am not interested in making a vinegar this way.  I'm trying to create the mother without a starter culture, similar to the way people makes a starter sourdough culture, or a ginger bug, etc.  If you search for "how to make vinegar", nearly all results provide similar instruction to simply purchase Bragg's or some other vinegar with active cultures and go from there.  Again, this is not what I want to do. My inner mad-scientist wants to do things the hard way :) Sadly, I haven't found any instructions or details/info on this yet.  Thanks again for trying to help out, though, it's appreciated!

 

Unfortunately, unless you are in an area where there are orchards or vineyards, where "friendly" organisms are in the air - and this means well away from any pollution from vehicles because fumes from burning fossil fuels destroy the beneficial organisms, you will not have any success.

You have to be in a rural or semi-rural area.  

I experimented with various wines decades ago that "turned to vinegar" but a viable "mother" never developed and the vinegar effect that was a chemical reaction, deteriorated over time. 

You need whole, unwashed fruit that has not been treated with wax or washed so commercial fruits are not acceptable.

You can try health food stores that carry Certified organic, unwashed fruits.  Or if you live in an area where there are table grapes or wine grapes growers, you can buy from roadside stands.  

I have a friend who grows several varieties of grapes and I buy from him and juice my own grapes.

For starting a mother, you need to juice the grapes and include both the juice and the skins in the jar. 

It has to be kept away from light because light will inhibit the fermentation.  

Be patient  and avoid disturbing the jar for at least 6 weeks. 

Get a Ph test kit to monitor the progress.  It may take several tries to get a viable mother to develop. 

 

And, not all the bacteria on fruits are beneficial!  

Some of the bacteria that cause fermentation, the "wild bugs"  can invade a culture and make people ill.

A hundred years ago there were no huge feed lots where thousands of cattle were fattened for slaughter, in the same area as table grapes are grown, as in the San Joaquin valley.  Dust collected in the area contaminated with E.Coli.

I personally wash table grapes from that area thoroughly and would never consider using them to develop a mother.

The same with fruits that are grown near the huge egg production places where dust is floating around that contains salmonella.

You have to educate yourself about the source areas where fruits are grown.

This is why people who are serious about developing their own vinegar BUY commercial mothers so they don't inadvertently make themselves or their guests ill.


Edited by andiesenji (log)
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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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On 8/8/2019 at 5:14 PM, andiesenji said:

I experimented with various wines decades ago that "turned to vinegar" but a viable "mother" never developed and the vinegar effect that was a chemical reaction, deteriorated over time.

Thank you, this is what I was looking for.  The wine we made 20 years ago was from our garden that had about 100 grapevines, and a small ~25 tree orchard or so. It was semi-rural at the time, however, the surrounding area has since grown in considerably.  I was hoping to make vinegar from the old wine, but looks like it will be a no-go, bummer!
 

Based on the rest of what you wrote, to make sure I have this right: one cannot make a mother out of bottled wine.  If I wish to make a vinegar mother from scratch, then one needs to continue with the fermentation process, instead of bottling the wine.  I wonder what in the bottling process stops the acetobacter?  Does the lack of oxygen kill it?  I thought that would just inhibit the growth, make it lay dormant, then revive once exposed again.  Or maybe if the wine maker adds sulfites or other preservatives/sanitizers, this kills the acetobacter? Hmmm.  In other words, why is it a chemical reaction only that created vinegar in your wine instead of promoting the continued fermentation?

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Yes, sulfites and other processes inhibits the proliferation of the organisms that develop into a colony that becomes a mother.

LIGHT is also a problem after bottling.  Often wine will turn to vinegar after time even when not opened but especially if opened and exposed to oxygen - which is oxidation but there has to be a certain number of organisms in a natural state for a viable colony to develop.

There are several wine making books that also discuss the procedures used to AVOID conversion to vinegar and also how to make "artisan" vinegars.

If there is a Brewer/Wine making supplier in your area, you might get some valuable help.  There have been people who became successful, almost by accident.

Read about the Madhouse Vinegar guys, how they got together and what they are doing. This is a recent happening and fascinating.

 

I spent years fiddling around when my only information source were some old, out of date books but at that time I lived in the San Fernando valley and I found a great  Wine-Making supplier on Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hills who was very helpful, sold me my first big carboys and introduced me to  a couple of hobby winemakers who were more than happy to give me their unsuccessful  results with which I could experiment, rather than pour it down the drain.  

After I moved up here to the high desert in 1988, I was lucky in that the neighbor behind me was Italian and HER father lived in Tehachapi and made red wine from his own grapes and from the wild blackberries that grow up there.

I went up with her a few times and he always would give me a jug of wine, even though he knew I didn't drink, he told me to use it for cooking. And I did.  I added some to the vinegar I had been nursing along for a few years and it really loved his wine. It improved exponentially.

That was the batch I lost in the earthquake.  By then he had passed away and I had no access to homemade wine of that purity and quality.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've tried to make vinegar 3 times, (organic) pineapple (Mexican style), apple (using the peels from a bunch of apples wild picked) and dark beer.  I think I just don't like the flavor of homemade vinegar.  All of them were tart and tangy, no weird molds, but had an underlying "barnyard funk" flavor.   Now I think with the above information posted, is that funky flavor may be endemic to the free floaties acetobacters in my location.    I've recognized that barnyard funk in some saison beers I've tried.  I don't enjoy that flavor.

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