All About Vinegar
In many ways, vinegar is the easiest thing in the world to make…when you don’t want to. I am sure many of us have reached to the back of the cupboard to grab out that old bottle of wine, only to find its been left so long, that it has turned to vinegar.
That is because vinegar is what happens to alcohol when it has been exposed to oxygen. The oxygen allows for the growth of Acetobacter bacteria which metabolise alcohol into acetic acid, or vinegar. Thats why wine and beer bottles have that narrow neck, this limits the exposure of the alcohol to air and limits the chances of vinegar forming.
Wine = Wine Vinegar
Beer = Malt Vinegar
Cider = Cider Vinegar
To Mother or Not To Mother
You may have seen or heard a vinegar being touted as being “with mother”. A vinegar mother is very similar to a Kombucha mother and forms as often forms as part of the vinegar making process. Think of it as a concentrated addition of the Acetobacter bacteria. While it can jump start your vinegar production, its not really necessary. Acetobacter bacteria are pretty omnipresent in the air and if you leave alcohol long enough with exposure to air, it will ferment into vinegar.
However, jump starting your vinegar through adding a mother or some natural vinegar to your mix can help get it going faster and with more consistent results. Most vinegars you buy in the shop will have been pasteurised, so you’ll need to look out for a “raw” or unpasteurised vinegar.
Basic Vinegar Making Process
Fill a glass or plastic container about half full with what you are planning to turn into vinegar.
Add about 1/4 of the volume of raw vinegar or a vinegar mother (store bought or some left over from your last batch are all fine.
Cover with a cloth to let air in but keep flies out.
Ferment in a warm place for 2-4 weeks.
Start taste testing your vinegar after about 2 weeks. When it hits your preferred level of vinegary, you will need to bottle it to stop further acidification.
Vinegar should be bottled in a narorw neck bottle and benefits from storing for a while. Some suggest over 6 months, but we can never leave it that long!