Mothering Vinegar



The Mother of all vinegar is a cloudy, shroudy, gummy wondrous substance composed of both cellulose and bacteria. It is the generative environment of fermentation, the mysterious process where oxidizing sugars transform and produce acetic acid.

In order to nurture a healthy Mother you’ll first need to enlist the help of a small starter dose of the miraculous bacteria known mycoderma aceti. The starter can be purchased either a brewers outlet, a local wine merchant or online. Once you’ve acquired an active starter-dose simply pour it into a large crock along with a couple bottles of wine,. Set the crock in a warm spot in your kitchen or pantry.

Now, every week for the next few months simply offer the crock a glass of wine that you have somehow managed not to consume during dinner. Obviously, this will require that you serve a slightly excessive amount of wine at least once a week for a few months. Success in all the arts, even the digestive ones, must come at a price.

After a few weeks your Mother will make her first appearance in the crock. Wearing her hazy grayish veil, she will drape herself upon the surface of the wine. To keep her healthy you must provide her plenty of fresh air and breathing room. To this end, a linen napkin, or cheesecloth can be tied loosely over the mouth of the crock. This will provide both easy ingress for oxygen while preventing the unwanted intrusion of flying insects.
KNow just keep offering your Mother a small glass of wine each week. Don’t go overboard. Too much wine at once will weaken her maternal instinct. Most importantly, never give your Mother any sweet or fortified wines (port, sherry, etc.), as this may delay or even prevent the mysterious transformation of wine to vinegar.
Over the coming weeks your mother will thicken protectively to defend her brood of bacteria from the impact of the elements. Someone with way too much free time on their hands once actually calculated that a typical Mother thickens at a rate of roughly 1.25 inches per year.

After a few months of steady drinking your Mother will begin to weaken and start to sink to the bottom of the crock. Once she has hit “crock-bottom” so to speak, she can be moved to a new receptacle with fresh wine in order to begin a new batch of vinegar, or discarded altogether. The vinegar now lerft in the crock need only be strained through a folded piece of cheesecloth and transferred into clean glass bottles to store.