Mothering Vinegar



The Mother of all vinegar is a cloudy and gummy substance composed of cellulose and bacteria. Acetobacter aceti is the precise name of the bacterium that Louis Pasteur was the first to prove was responsible for the conversion of ethanol to acetic acid. Acetobacter aceti is a benificial bacterium ubiquitious in the environment, which appears in large numbers in what are called “alcohilic ecological niches” around flowers, fruits, honey bees, or wherever sugar fermentation naturally occurs.

To create a healthy Mother with which you can produce your own vinegar you will first need to find an existing mother in a bottle of vinegar or purchase a starter-dose of Mycoderma Aceti from a brewers outlet or local wine merchant. Now simply pour the starter it into a large crock along with a couple bottles of inexpensive wine made with organically-sourced fruit, and set the crock in a warm well-ventilated spot in your kitchen or pantry.

Each week for the next few months simply offer the crock a glass of wine. Obviously, this will require you to serve a slightly excessive amount of wine for the next few months.Every fine the art, even the fine art of fermentation, requires a certain measure of sacrifice.

After just a few weeks, your Mother will begin to appear as a hazy grayish veil draping herself protectively over the surface of the wine. In order to keep her healthy it is necessary to give your Mother plenty of breathing room. This is done by leaving ample space in the crock and by loosely tying a piece of linen or cheesecloth over the mouth of the container. This provides your Mother all the oxygen she needs while preventing the intrusion of flying insects.
Just keep offering your Mother a glass of wine every week or so for the next few months. Don’t go overboard. Too much wine at once will only weaken her maternal instinct. Also, never give your Mother any sort of sweet or fortified wines (port, sherry, etc.), as this will delay or even prevent the occurance of the blessed event.
After a month or so your Mother will begin to thicken protectively over the wine to defend her brood of bacteria from the elements. Someone with way too much free time on their hands has actually calculated that a typical Mother thickens at a rate of roughly 1.25 inches per year.

After a couple months of wine-soaked labor your Mother will have begun to weaken in potency and eventually she will sink to the bottom of the crock. Once she has hit “crock-bottom” so to speak, your Mother can be moved to a new crock with fresh wine to start a new batch of vinegar. The newly-orphaned vinegar need only be strained through a folded piece of cheesecloth and transferred into glass bottles to fully mature.