The Vinegar Experiment

I had a batch of wine that the wife just didn’t like. She’ll pull punches on me and go ahead and drink some of what I make, even though its not a big hit with her, either out of kindness or pity, I’m still not sure. But this batch was just plain old BAD.

If you know me at all, you know how much I hate waste, particularly food. I’m counting wine as food, since it started as fruit juice, and there is some nutritional value to homemade wine. I didn’t want to throw this out. Hmmm…

Not THAT Monk….

When the wife passed judgement, I immediately starting thinking “vinegar”, since vinegar used to be made from wine, back when monks weren’t compulsive crime solvers and people didn’t waste food.

I read somewhere its simply a matter of introducing acetic bacteria to a solution containing alcohol. The rest is simply time. Mother Nature kicks things into gear converting the alcohol into acetic acid, the stuff vinegar is made of. I’ll leave the science to others to explain, and I’ll go with “just do it”. The end result, like all things done in small batches at home, tends to provide a superior product than what you can buy in the store.

The hardware:

  • A gallon jug of crappy wine. Good wine also works, by why use the good stuff on an experiment?
  • Another gallon jug for the process, or something to our the crappy wine into for a short time.
  • a bottle of Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the ‘Mother’ (found at a health food store)
  • a rubber band
  • a paper towel

 

 

The process I followed:

Take the final jug, pour in a little of the apple cider vinegar, trying to get a bit of “the Mother” in as well. Add the wine until you get to the neck area, adding a little less than a full gallon of wine. Cover the top with a paper towel, securing it with a rubber band. Set it in a dark place that stay between 70 and 80 degrees fahrenheit. Then wait. Thats it.

Start tasting it around a month, or wait for a large, alien blob  to form on the top, and eventually sink to the bottom as it dies back. That alien blob is the mother growing, converting the sugars in the alcohol into acetic acid. Once it runs out of food, it sinks to the bottom in a death-like coma. Some folks throw it away, some feed it to their dogs or chickens. Some name it, put it into their swimming pools, and watch it grow into something too large to be contained and it runs all over the county eating people as it moves around.

Wait, I’m not sure about the last one….that may have been a movie I saw. Hard to tell, its 4:52am as I write this, sorry. But you CAN feed it to your animals, or instead of discarding it, keep topping off the liquid as you remove some and the Mother will live indefinitely, just as long as you keep “feeding” it.

Incidentally, this is also the same basic process used to grow and maintain Kombucha, only the food source for kombucha is sweet tea. I’ve also allowed kombucha to ferment beyond the drinkable stage and allowed it to turn into “Sweet tea vinegar” and used it just like vinegar. Makes a nice vinegar and oil salad dressing when combined with coconut oil. (I can send you some kombucha mother if you’d like, I’ve got a little bit I maintain to always have a source of vinegar…just in case. It would take me about a week to get it up and running again, so there would be about a two week turnaround on any orders. Contact me if interested. (Sorry, offer is closed)) Back to the vinegar.

I like projects that thrive on neglect. I tend to forget about them for months at a time, a good thing when you are supposed to wait…this is one of those things. If when I remember, I’ll tell you how it went.

Peace,
db

 

 

44 comments:

  1. Good one I didn’t even know you could buy it so easy. I watched a Green Deene video on making (getting?) mother. It involved hanging a jug of sugar water outside for fly’s to die in…I like your plan much better!

  2. Very interesting information. Can’t wait to see how that turns out. BTW – that Bragg Vinegar “with the Mother” is getting hard to find. I try to drink a little each day and it really seems to help with indigestion problems.

    1. I got mine at Nutrition S’Mart over by you….it seems only health food stores carry it, though you can try asking your local grocery store manager to get it in for you, they usually oblige. Just one more reason to build a relationship with the folks you see every day – your banker, your grocery clerk, your mechanic….hmmm, I see a post coming out if this comment….

  3. Can you reuse the mother to make more vinegar and keep repeating the process over and over? Or is it done once it’s done?

    1. From what I’ve found, you sure can…in fact, the best innoculant for future batches is a mother you’ve grown yourself. It tends to have already adapted to your particular environment – temperature, light conditions, local airborn yeasts and bacterias, and food sources (what wine you start with). And it only takes a little bit. Some folks even keep a constant flow, contunually producing. Use a spigot at the bottom to extract the vinegar, then top it back off with more wine.

  4. I would love to have a scoby (kombucha mother) if you have one to spare I have been trying to grow one from bottled store bought Kombucha w/o much success. I am in the Tampa area. I understand you need a cup of kombucha tea as well as a scoby to get going I guess you would have to put it in liquid in any event to keep it viable for shipping.

    1. I’m pretty sure I can get you going without sending you anything, Mother Nature is a grand old Lady, and can do much of the work for you, if we give her the chance….

      Drop me an email, let’s see if we can get you sorted out.

    1. Just guessing, based on my previous batches of kombucha, but I’d say start with a white wine. The color seems to carry over through the process, so you should end up wit ha white vinegar. White grape juice as a starting juice should eventually yield white vinegar (after you ferment the juice into wine).

      Hope that helps!
      db

      1. That would make white wine vinegar. The classic “white vinegar” is made from grains and then distilled.

        1. Picking nits with me is never a good idea when you make vague statements as part of your argument. And/or when you are wrong. Well, in this case, partially.

          Yes, “white” vinegar is made from fermented grains. However, it is not “then distilled”. The fermented grains are distilled to speed the process and eliminate colors. Then the distillate is fermented to convert the clear alcohol into a clear vinegar. The end result, “distilled white vinegar” a misnomer.

          And who said I started with white wine? It just as easily could have been red. Or apple. Or any of a dozen fruit wines I’ve made over the years. And each would result in a different flavor and name.

          And since we are clearing the air, ALL vinegar I’ve made would still contain some trace bits of the original apple, since I started with the mother from Bragg’s Raw Unfiltered Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.

          That better?

  5. You can make apple cider vinegar from apples too. I just finished making 8 gallons, bottling it. It is very simple. Juice apples until you have desired amount of juice. Get champagne yeast, stir into the juice. Do not cover with anything but a cloth. Allow to turn… about 6 to 8 weeks. Strain a few times to remove the big clumps of film. Patrurize by heating the strained juice to 160 degrees. Sanitize your bottles ( must be glass) then bottle. Heat a large pot with water, and bring it to a boil. When it is boiling, turn the heat off… then place your bottled vinegar into the water. Allow the bottled vinegar and water to cool to room temperature. Now your vinegar is ready, and can be used. This is the best tasting vinegar ever…. MUCH better than Bragg’s!!!

  6. I lived in Japan for a long time & went around asking for kombucha. Cha means tea. Anyway, they looked at me like I was crazy when I finally tasted it , it was unsweetened and disgusting. It was only then that I realized kombu it just a type of seaweed, that is often used to make seaweed stock and used as a base stock for miso or other Japanese root vegetable soups. You can find dried kombu at most Asian grocery stores, cut a little piece, boil it in water afterwards, add the tofu & miso paste (I buy organic, non-GMO, red/Japanese husband prefers yellow. Or just freeze the soup stock, even in your ice cube trays.

  7. If you are already brewing Kombucha, can you use a Kombucha SCOBY for the vinegar instead of taking all the time to grow a new one?? Thanks, this is super cool, I can’t wait to try it! My hubs is all “Can we just be normal about one thing??” He just doesn’t get it, hehe 😉 Thanks again!

    1. Kombucha grows in tea, not in wine. The alcohol might adversely affect it. Ultimately, they a vinegar mother and a kombucha mother each consist of a very different group of organisms.

      And the next time your husband asks if you can just have one thing normal, tell him that what you are doing IS normal…in MY house 😛

  8. I was afraid of that, thanks! And I’ll also remind him how much he loves all of my end products. Can’t beat homemade. Ever. Just found your blog, lovin’ it.

  9. First thing when I started reading the info, I was glad to hear you can make your own vinegar,woohoo!!! Then the swimming mother eating the town people, well hahahaajjaahaha!!! And lastley is a question- “are you really going to reply to everyone who “hits you up” on getting started??? Regaudless I’m in and gona do an expirement.

    1. I do not….however, you should be able to find some active kombucha at a local health food store…simply use it to inoculate a batch, and you are off and running!

    1. For a vinegar start, simply get some Braggs at a local heath food store…

      As to non-GMO wines, a little research shows that Austrailian wines do not allow any GMO grapes or yeast to be used in wine production, so you might try their wines…

      Try going to http://www.nongmoproject.org/ and looking around for more information….

      Here is the list of Spirits, Beer, and wine:
      http://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/search-participating-products/?catID=29

      Hope it helps…

      db

  10. I used your instructions to make vinegar out of some over the hill wine. I poured 4 750ml bottles in to each of 3 one gallon containers. I then took two bottles of Bragg’s with the Mother and split it up between the 3 containers. They are sitting in a perfect place and breathing for two months. I’m getting a vinegar taste but they are not as astringent as it seems vinegar should be. Did I use enough of the mother? Should I add more? Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jack

    1. If it is turning to vinegar, then there is enough of the mother. It takes very little to inoculate the wine.

      I would start another batch, and on the first batch, as Ace Ventura said, “Just wait longer!”

      And what do you mean by “over the hill?” Maybe the wine itself was the problem….You might try to set a baseline by purchasing a fresh bottle of wine, inoculating it, and seeing how that turns out. A $5 bottle of wine would make a fairly decent vinegar…

  11. I wanted to save this article on my computer for easy reference for my use only. You apparently have it locked up tight. Would you please email me a computer file, .doc, .gif, .jpeg or (?) which I can store on my computer?

    I appreciate your consideration of this.

    Thank you.
    George

  12. I want to make apple cider vinegar. So would you not use apple cider and inoculate it with the mother from Bragg’s ?

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