Loyal readers may recall that one of our earliest posts dealt with making your own vinegar. I have been remiss in posting the promised update. As you can see, the gallon jug on the left contains a slightly opaque substance that used to be apple cider. It’s hard to see in the picture, but there’s a thin layer of bacteria about the thickness of a sheet of plastic wrap floating on top of the liquid. This is the mother: a thin layer of bacteria that eat alcohol and produce acetic acid, or vinegar, as a byproduct. It’s starting to smell a lot like vinegar, but the taste test says that it’s not quite there yet. I must confess that tasting it was a leap of faith, but I am happy to report that it tasted actually tasted pretty good—just like a sip of hard apple cider seasoned with some vinegar. Give it another couple of weeks, and we’ll have vinegar.
Now, the jar on the right is a true experiment, inspired by a recent post on Local Kitchen and another blog that I unfortunately have misplaced (if it’s yours, please speak up!). I’ve been told that you can make vinegar not only from fruit juices, but also from fruit scraps. So, last weekend when I made apple chutney, I saved all the peels and cores and stuck them in a giant jar with about a quart of filtered water. The first stage of fermentation (from fruit juice to alchohol) requires anerobic bacteria, so I’ve sealed the jar. Once it stops bubbling, I’ll assume that the alcohol production is done and will move to a cheesecloth cover, as the vinegar-producing bacteria—unlike the alcohol-producing bacteria—require air. This apparently may take many months, so stay tuned.