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I found a mother in my pickle jar!


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I reached into my fridge today, knowing that there was one, and only one, of the lovely kosher dills left in there that I was craving, and low and behold there was a mother floating in my pickle jar! It looks healthy, a little dark in the center, and very intriguing. I can't believe it grew in the fridge, and am a little suspicious.

OK, who knows if this is good to use? I have read up on vinegar making, but never actually done it myself. The kosher dills are very garlicy, will that corrupt the mother? Not that I object to a little garlic in my vinegar.

Also, can I eat that last pickle? I have been saving it a couple of weeks.

I'm sort of excited. It feels like foraging to me, almost, and maybe fate is telling me that now is the time to start my vinegar making experiment. Some treasures just pop up in the most amazing places. I have a source for some very nice vinegar jars.


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You know, it took me a while to remember what a "mother" was in a vinegar context-- I thought maybe your pickles had decided to breed, and was a little grossed out...

Not nearly as grossed as when I first saw it, and it took me a couple of minutes to realize what it was.


I guess the pickle is still good, anyway.

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Scoop out the mother and put it in a clean glass or ceramic container, add leftover random white wine and it'll turn to vinegar in a few weeks. You need to keep adding wine every once in a while or the mother will die and smell HORRIBLE.

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Scoop out the mother and put it in a clean glass or ceramic container, add leftover random white wine and it'll turn to vinegar in a few weeks.  You need to keep adding wine every once in a while or the mother will die and smell HORRIBLE.

Well, I cannot allow my mother to die, certainly.

Will post a picture tomorrow AM. Stay tuned.


By the way, how drunk should I keep mother?

Edited by annecros (log)
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Well, I cannot allow my mother to die, certainly.

Will post a picture tomorrow AM. Stay tuned.


By the way, how drunk should I keep mother?

Moderately drunk. I keep a red wine mother happy with the dregs of a bottle every few weeks. Apparently red mother doesn't like white wine since it died when i split some off and fed it only white wine. To get it started I'd give it a maybe half a bottle of wine at most, mother isn't picky - corked wine is fine, stuff that's been sitting on top of the fridge in the sun for a year is good too.

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Like the man said. Put it in a large clean jar and pour on as and when the ends of wine, corked bottles, the undrinkable wine someone bought to the party, and mother will be happy. When the jar is getting a bit full, or it seems right poiur off half and bottle it.

Vinegar fermentation is aerobic (needs oxygen) so leave the jar open, covered with a cloth or something to keep out the dust and flies

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typing one handed here, sorry (bag of microwave popcorn, but it's good microwave popcorn)-

but from my adventures in culturing, ummmm... kosher dill pickles pickles are fermented in brine. as in, salt. hostile death-dealing (to vinegar) salt. there are admittedly microbial things going on in a jar of natural, brined pickles (as opposed to vinegared pickles like bread-and-butters), and if there are food scientists lurking who could confirm this, it'd be dandy; but a vinegar mother it is not.

spectrum makes a raw cider vinegar that will mother up for you if you have an itch to tinker ('wild fermentations' by sandor katz highly recommended). i don't know what the pickle globule is/was, but i suspect salty microbes are going to be very unhappy in vinegar.

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As a home winemaker, I've sometimes made vinegar (inadvertently). Currently I have about 4 liters of mead-based vinegar, modified by the addition of about 1/3 bottle of leftover red wine. It's delicious, slightly sweet, and reminds me of a malt vinegar I once tasted in England. I'm considering putting some in a separate jar and adding some oak chips to it, in lieu of aging in an oak barrel.

Here I must differ from opinions held by others upthread: use good wine, not more than a few days old, to get good vinegar. Food is only as good as its ingredients; the same goes for vinegar.

I would be curious to know if what you have is really a vinegar mother or some other creature - Suseyblue got me thinking about that.

But assuming it really is a mother of vinegar, follow the instructions given previously. Just make sure your jar is very clean, and keep it covered with a towel, paper or cloth, secured with a rubber band to keep flies out. Let it sit in a warm place, away from direct light, for about 1 month. When it's sour enough for you, strain and bottle it. However, don't use the vinegar for pickling; you can't know for sure if it's strong enough to preserve food safely.

My winemaking friends have made vinegar from mothers I've given out, and have started their own little mother colonies too. You do need a big enough mother for your experiment to work, though. How big is the blob you've got?

Taste once in a while and follow the progress. Is it getting too acetic? Add water, a few tablespoons at a time, and maybe a little sugar. Is it not becoming vinegar? Maybe you don't have a mother of vinegar, but some alien mother...or just an alien :laugh: . (My kids used to show my Kombucha culture, serenely floating in its jar of tea, to their friends with this introduction: "Wanna see the alien growing in our closet?" Alas, the Kombucha is no more - got tired of maintaining the thing.)

Once you've established a healthy mother, you can experiment with all kinds of vinegars. Try separating a layer of mother and sliding it into a half-gallon or so of apple cider, or raspberry juice, or pineapple juice. I've done all those. I know, the liquid should be somewhat alcoholic in order to become vinegar, but it's worked for me all the same.

Melkor, I am curious about the stinky mother - I've never had that.


Miriam Kresh


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