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Making Vinegar


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And I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but can you put a mother in 'suspended animation'?  If you want to stop making vinegar for a while, how do you 'store' the mother?

-Greg

Now that is a good question. The mother that a friend brought me from the wine shop was just in a glass jar stored at room temperature. I can't find it right now but I don't remember a "use by" date or instructions to refrigerate. But, I have no idea if that means anything. Perhaps digging down in one of the web sites will yield an answer.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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This book has a world of information about making and using vinegar. I recommed it highly.

Vinegar man, Lawrence Diggs

I bought it after I found a footnote about the book in another (somewhat scholarly) book about the Romans and how they considered vinegar a beverage, usually mixed with water.

It is very interesting just to read.

I should add that the "Spicy Pecan Vinegar" available on this site is amazing.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"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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  • 4 months later...

Bump. I've been making red wine vinegar for about a year now, using Abra's description of the process in her old blog. It's fun, and the vinegar is much better than storebought. I was wondering if you, Abra, or anyone else has made sherry vinegar. Does it take as long as white wine vinegar? And can you use the mother from the red wine vinegar?

Also: I inferred from Abra's blog and some other stuff online that vinegar-in-progress should not be exposed to light--hence the crockery. But is that true? Could you make vinegar in a glass jar?

Thank you for your advice, past and future.

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You can go to any health food store and find vinegar that is unfiltered and containing the mother.

All you have to do is shake it up, to break up the mother somewhat and pour some of it into a larger (dark) bottle, add your wine loosely cover it, so there can be some air exchange but stuff can't fall into the bottle (I use a 6 inch square of cloth and a rubberband) and put it in a dark, cool place.  Leave it alone for a couple of months, then begin tasting a bit from time to time.

When it has the taste you like, carefully decant some into another bottle for use, being careful to keep the mother in the orignal bottle and add more wine to it so the process continues. 

I have several going at the same time.  Red and rosé as well as white.  I have even had fair success with sherry although it takes much, much longer and you need a high concentration of vinegar and mother to start with and add only a little sherry at a time, otherwise the mother will cease working.

This is exactly what I did a couple of years ago. I have a red and white in the pantry that I work from. I haven't tried sherry yet but would love to since finding sherry vinegar in local grocery stores and even specialty stores is pretty difficult.

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I did try to make some white wine vinegar with my red wine mother, but no go. It made some pink and insipid brew, and I didn't pursue it further. I'm not sure if it's a diferent organism for each sort of vinegar or not, but mine wants to be red and only red.

You can do it in a glass jar, but keep it in a dark place. My particular mother likes cool room temperature, so I don't think it would grow well in a cool dark place like the garage. I have some growing n a jar right now as a demonstration project, and I'm keeping it in a kitchen cupboard.

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  • 2 months later...

I made some vinegar out of red wine. I started with about 4 bottles of cheap-ish Cabernet and mother purchased at the local brewing store. It's been about two months (I started 5/20/06) and I just gave it a try. Sure enough it is acidic like vinegar, but it also has a strong acetone (nail polish remover) smell and has some bitter flavors, especially in the aftertaste. At this point it's not exactly the sort of thing I want to add to my best olive oil and drizzle over greens.

Now I am told that I need to age this for 6 months or so and that during this time the harshness and whatnot will soften.

Will the acetone and bitterness mellow out during the aging?

Or did something go horribly wrong and I should just cut my losses and start again?

My plan was to pasteurize the vinegar by heating it to 160 for about 15 minutes or so and then put it in a paraffin-lined oak barrel to age until about January. I also plan to take some of it and just age it in a bottle without pasteurizing (just to see what it's like). And of course, keeping some to start another batch. But if something has gone wrong, and the final product will be more like paint-stripper than an ingredient suitable for salad dressing, maybe I'll find myself another hobby.

Edited by fiftydollars (log)
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Sounds like some contamination.

Maybe the cheapish Cabernet was the problem. Someof those have high levels of sulphites.

You also need lots of air - in an open jar the top covered with muslin.

I keep such a jar in the kitchen and ends of bottles, go in it.

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That sometimes happens, check out this site:

vinegar making discussion

and at this site check the section under Putting Vinegar in perspective

in paragraph 3. (the fingernail polish bit)

and here

another site

The Vinegar Man's site

I have some 3-gallon carboys that live in a dark, cool closet inside my pantry. I don't usually bother with real wine "mothers" I just use the unfiltered Bragg's apple cider vinegar that included the mother, put some in a carboy with the wine and leave it alone for a minimum of 6 months, sometimes adding additional wine if I happen to have part of a bottle left over or given to me.

I have a pH tester and an acid test kit to make sure the vinegar is at least .05%

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"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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gallery_15065_680_58350.jpg

Thank you very much for your help, Jackal and Andiesenji.

For the bulk of the vinegar I used Black Mountain "Fat Cat" Cabernet from Trader Joe's. It's a wine I would rarely drink, but could if I had to. Should I use something a little more expensive (bottle ends) or a different style (beaujolais, pinot, mad dog 20/20)?

I also poured in some left over wine, but as you can see from the jar, I ran out of room.

I originally covered the jar in cheesecloth, but even with 4 layers it seemed to leave enough room for vinegar flies to creep in, so I switched to the paper towel (Bounty). It started off in the coolest darkest covert I have in my kitchen, but I moved it to the garage to prevent it from contaminating some beer I was brewing (the beer is good).

I'm having trouble letting go. I just don't want to chuck it, but I also don't want to waste my time (and barrel) or put nail polish remover in my vinaigrettes. Is there any hope? Do I have to toss out the mother? Should I learn to love the flavor of Cutex?

Edited by fiftydollars (log)
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Keep it, it takes at least 6 months to convert.

That "nail-polish remover" aroma is a temporary thing.

You can add whatever kind of wine you want. You can add some fruit juice - preferably some of the frozen concentrate stuff, diluted with half the usual amount of water. Even though that is very sugary, it will speed up the vinegar process as it gives a boost to the acetobacter bacteria.

The next process involves first removing some of the mother and storing it in a separate jar.

If you can find fresh yeast, or "cake" yeast, you can toast a slice of white bread in the oven until it is very dry, even a bit scorched is okay. Spread the yeast on the toast and carefully float it on the surface of the wine/vinegar. (if you can find fresh yeast, use active dry yeast mixed with a tablespoon of cold water)

Allow this to sit, undisturbed for 6 weeks then strain through butter muslin (or an old pillowcase works well). Wash and scald the container or clean it with water into which you have mixed some bleach (and be sure to run the water/bleach through the spigot then rinse well). Return the liquid to it and add the saved mother.

NOW you want to top it up so there is very little head space, cover it with plastic wrap (the new silicone bowl covers also work beautifully) and put it back in a dark place and leave it alone for a minimum of 3-4 months before testing it for acid content and tasting. Check it every few days to make sure the top hasn't blown off.

I invert one of the super jumbo heavy duty ziploc bags over the carboy to make sure there is no dust on the cover.

If the acid is below 5%, put it back for another 6 weeks or so.

Making really good vinegar takes time.

I have some made with a very special mother that took 2 years but it was well worth the wait.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"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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in fact, i think i had posted a thread about acetone in vinegar a couple of years ago. It goes away. One trick I learned from a winemaker friend: if you dilute the vinegar somewhat, it helps get rid of the acetone (don't ask me to explain, it has something to do with the pH IIRC). You're probably going to have to dilute anyway ... alcohol converts to acidity at roughly 2 to 1, so a 14% wine (which is the norm), fully converted will still be a 7% vinegar (the commercial norm, I believe, is 5%).

I use sun tea jugs for my vinegar, one for fermenting, one for holding and aging until I dispense. I cover them with some really horrible (but tightly woven!) cotton napkins my mother in law gave me, fastened with the thick rubber bands that come wrapped around asparagus.

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  • 7 months later...

I've used the accidental mother from the very first post here a few times already to make excellent red wine vinegar. I am ready to harvest some more vinegar this week and add some wine for next time. The mother though, looks a bit different this time. IT's much darker in color and it sunk to the bottom. Is that any indication that the mother is dead? How can I tell if it is still active or not?

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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i wouldn't worry about it elie. that's not really the "mother" anyway. that's the mother's condo. the real mother is a form of specialized bacteria; the rubbery thing is a cellulose byproduct that frequently--but not always--shelters the acetobacter.

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i wouldn't worry about it elie. that's not really the "mother" anyway. that's the mother's condo. the real mother is a form of specialized bacteria; the rubbery thing is a cellulose byproduct that frequently--but not always--shelters the acetobacter.

Cool, thanks Russ. I guess the mother's condo is a little too stained with the several bottles of red wine vinegar that passed throuhg it :smile: .

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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man dallas must be one rockin' town where even the mother's have wine-stained condos! i think that sounds a lot more like fort worth.

Actually Houston

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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It's hard to disagree with the esteemed Mr. Parsons, but if you have no mother floating on the top, I think you're in trouble. Did you see this article of Paula Wolfert's about vinegar making? She mentions the dead mother layer issue. Whenever I have mother lying on the bottom, I toss it, but I've never been without a fresh mat floating on the top at the same time as some expires.

But then, I've never smelled acetone in my vinegar, either.

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well, not wishing to question the sainted wolfert ... to tell you the truth, i've never had the mother sink before. but that's mainly because i haven't had a recognizable mother in this batch of vinegar, which is now going on its fifth year. my assumption is that if it converts without it being there at all, sinking shouldn't be a problem. but that's just my assumption.

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Holy cow, do you mean to say you are making actual vinegar with no visible mother? I swear by all that's sour, I never heard of such a thing! I always have layer upon layer of mother in my vinaigrier, in fact, if I don't remove it from time to time it will fill up the entire crock and I have to squeeze the mother to get any vinegar out. I'm stunned - clearly you have some entirely different process going on in your kitchen but I have no idea what it is.

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it depends on what you mean by "visible". in my jug, the bacteria are present as a sort of scum on the surface. that doesn't sound very good--maybe "film" more than "scum". yes, i just went to look at it. it's a slightly dried out film.

i don't know what the difference is: i do know that most references describe the cellulose sponge part as a byproduct of acetobacter activity, not the source of it. because i keep my jars pretty busy (i've got one for the rough conversion; then i transfer it to another to settle and finish), i've never actually seen the bottom of the jar, so it could be i've got a cellulose mass there.

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I just bottled a gallon of vinegar that I started in november. I used a 4 gallon oak barrel that I got from my grand father. The last time he used it was in the 1950s...I used a "box" wine" (11 L +6L of h2o)

I ended up with an Inch of Mother in the bottom of the barrel...Gonna try another batch soon....(hope all those I gave some to dont think of it as a glorified zuchini....

Think The lil buggers last a while...unless they were "in the air" (most likely)

Bud

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  • 2 months later...

im interested in making crab apple vinegar. the majority of this thread references wine vinegars. with the exception of the pineapple. i just wonder if the presence of alcohol is essential to the process.... or if its just sugars in your starter product. ive got braggs cider vinegar w/mother. my current process unless i see some recomendation otherwise will consist of adding unpasturised crab apple juice to a small amount of the braggs, let it breathe for 6 months in the storeroom@my kitchen out of the sun... im also unsure if it will require "feeding" of fresh juice. also the removal of the mother if it grows too large......

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