The mother of all vinegar is talovely cloudy gummy substance composed of cellulose and bacteria. You can create your own Mother to start a batch of vinegar with the help of mycoderma aceti, a starter dose of which can usually be purchased at a local brewers outlet or wine merchant. Another way is to make friends with someone who is currently providing shelter to an idle Mother of their own.
Either way,m once you have acquired your starter dose, pour it into a large crock witha couple bottle’s of drinkable but inexpensive wine and set the crock in a warm spot in your kitchen or pantry. Then, once a week or so, simply offer up the crock a glass or two of leftover wine that you have somehow managed not to consume during dinner. Obviously, this requires that you posess the discipline and determination to drink wine roughy once a week for a few months. Arduous thought it may be, success in the fermented arts only comes to those willing to invest both patience and fortitude.
After a few weeks your Mother will likely make her first appearance. You’ll notice her arrival by the hazy grayish veil that begins forming on the surface of the wine in the crock. Always endeavor to keep your Mother in good spirits by providing her fresh air and breathing room. For this a linen napkin, cheesecloth, or any porous material can be shrouded lightly over the mouth of the crock in order to provide sufficient oxygen while preventing the intrusion of curious insects.
Continue to privide your Mother a glass or two of wine each week. Don’t go overboard as too much wine at once tends to weaken her generative potency. Most importantly, be careful to never give your Mother any sweet or fortified wines such as port, sherry, etc., as they will delay, or even prevent the birth of vinegar.
Slowly over the coming weeks, your Mother will swell with new life, thickening protectively in her crock in order to defend her brood of bacteria from the influence of the elements. A good Mother must be thick-skinned for this process and a healthy one can grow with surprising rapidity. Apparantly, someone with way too much free time on their hands has calculated that a typical Mother will thicken at a rate of roughly 1.25 inches per year.
After a couple of months your Mother will sink to the bottom of the crock and a new “skin” will begin to form at the surface. Once she has has hit “crock-bottom”, so to speak, you can remove her to a new crock to start another batch, or discard her altogether. The newly-hatched vinegar now needs only to be strained through a folded piece of cheesecloth and stored in glass bottles for its final miraculous transformation into fully mature vinegar.