Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Mother Of All Vinegars

Home Made Vinegar

I decided to make my own red-wine vinegar. Why? Just for kicks and giggles. It seems lately that if I start thinking "I wonder how easy it is to make xxxxx...." then I am obsessed with making whatever it is.
While researching vinegar making, I learned that if you leave wine sitting for a few months that it will turn to vinegar. This is similar to sourdough and buttermilk in that there are natural bacteria, molds and fungi in the environment that are required in the process. However, for more consistent results, it is best to purchase a 'mother vinegar', or get some from a friend that makes vinegar. I bought my 'mother' from an online brew-making website.
I wanted to watch my costs in this experiment, so I bought a 5 liter, boxed Cabarnet Sauvignon. A crockpot (washed thoroughly then scorched with boiling water) that I use for pickles and sauerkraut seemed to fit the bill, so I poured the wine and mother vinegar in that. Since good vinegar is aged in wooden barrels, I also added a handful of wood chips. I didnt have any oak chips, and hoped that my hickory chips will suffice.
Vinegar should age in a 70-80 degree temperature range, cooler than that and it takes longer. The best I can hope for in the house is about 68-72 degrees. I placed it near the kerosene heater in hopes that I can get a few more degrees in placing it there.
A towel or cheesecloth must be placed over the top to keep out the fruitflies, I used a towel.
Now I have to wait for about 3 months to see if it worked or not. In a week, I noticed in stirring it that I did have small amounts of the telltale nasty-looking sludge which is the bacteria, the 'mother'. In future batches I can transfer the mother and/or a couple cups of the vinegar to a new batch, and the cycle continues.
I will post more news regarding this, but it looks like it is a 'hurry up and wait' game from here on out.

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