Red Wine Vinegar Starter Culture

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Toadflax

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Mar 26, 2007
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My wife recently saw something on TV about 'growing' your own red wine vinegar, using a continuous culture similar to the way that yogurt and sourdough is made, but she couldn't find much on the internet about how to do it. Seemed a good use for little bits of wine left in the bottom of the bottle, or nasty cheap wine that you can't drink.

Does anybody know anything about this?


Geoff
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
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It's a gelatinous sort of gunk called a mother or a plant.
It's actually a stable relationship of yeast cells and bacteria.
I'll see if I can find links.

cheers,
Toddy
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
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My quest here was to produce high quality vinegar that was “re-producible” from only the things I could find in my garden and a few items of basic household materials.

My fist step was to make something to produce some vinegar from. We all know that vinegar is known as “white wine vinegar”, “cider vinegar” etc. This is because the best vinegars are produce from fermented material.

Now I do happen to grow my own grapes, but that felt like cheating, so I gathered my windfall apples and chopped them finely.



Next I sort of cheated – since I have access to a fruit press that looks like this



Had I not had one though, I would have rigged a press using a car jack, frame and tray – or even squeezed juice using over ripe apples and a potato masher and then sieved out the pulp.

However I have a fruit press so I load in the chopped apple and squeezed out the juice



The juice was put into several 3 pint preserving jars. It quickly separates into juice, pulp and “froth”.



I skimmed off the “froth” and covered with a loose cloth. This is because, due to the naturally present yeast, the apple juice will ferment. If I sealed the lid, the pressure would build and ultimately explode. A loose cloth allows the CO2 produced during fermentation to escape but keeps any nasties out.



Within a couple of days a new froth builds up from the fermenting yeast



Once the fermentation has finished, I removed the cloth cover and left the open jar in front of an open window for a couple of days. You do this outdoors but try to prevent spills and rubbish falling in the jar.

Within one day I had success – the fly I hate the most – the tiny vinegar fly had fallen in my cider



Why do I hate it? It’s the reason I need to be super careful when brewing – have a look at the cider one day later



The “film” you can see spreading from the fly is aceto bacteria. This bacteria turns the alcohol (or fruit juice) into vinegar. The jar now contains “mother of vinegar”. This is rather like “sourdough starter”. A small amount introduced into another jar of wine, cider or fruit juice will “infect” the liquid and cause it to turn to vinegar.

There are a couple of “buts” in this process however. The aceto bacteria needs air. Do not cover it (other than with a breathable cloth). When introducing it into a new jar, lift a little of the “scum” with a spoon and “float it” onto the surface. Mixing it will deprive it of air and kill it. Lastly, the “mother” needs food to live. You can “feed it” by running some fresh cider down the side of the jar into the mother once a month. Down the side so as not to “swamp” the bacteria floating on the surface.




So, once we have used out fruit juice to transform a few jars or buckets of cider into good cider vinegar, can we use it? Well not really. Shop bought vinegar is about 5% acid. Home made can be 10% or even more. This is unpalatable to say the least. So it should be diluted. I generally first run it through a coffee filter to remove the bacterial “sludge”, although a siphon tube works and indeed it can be left – its not harmful. However the question remains – how much to dilute it to maintain a good taste and efficacy. One can work from taste but there is a scientific method. We will use a form of titration to measure the relative acidity.

First we need a red cabbage! Roughly chop half a cabbage and boil in a couple of cups of water until the water turns deep purple



Strain the water off through a colander to create a jug of dark purple “cabbage water”



Take two tablespoons of cabbage water and stir them into a glass of water



Next dissolve two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water (if you didn’t have any bicarb, a lye solution would work)



Next find some “known strength” vinegar. This can be a commercial vinegar or an old batch of yours whose strength is right. Using a pipette / eye dropper, add 10 drops of the vinegar to the dilute cabbage water and stir with a plastic spoon.



As you can see from this “before and after” shot – the colour is distinctly different when acid is added.



Next add 20 drops of your bicarb solution. The colour will switch back to blue – I have shown the glass with bicarb added on the right. Stir with a plastic spoon again.



Keep this glass safe as you will use it to compare against. Its called the control.

Take another glass and fill it with water and two tablespoons of cabbage water. Add seven drops of your home made vinegar. Then put it next to the control. Add bicarb solution one drop at a time stirring all the time. Count the drops. When the colours matched stop.



The number of drops of bicarb you added, divided by 4 is the percentage acid in your vinegar. Mine was 37 – so about 9% acid. Dilute with water until you get 5% acid and pour the vinegar into clean bottles. Cork and label the bottles. All the cabbage, bicarb and coloured vinegar should be thrown away. Its not dangerous but it doesn’t taste nice!

So, there we are. No need to buy fancy expensive vinegars – just make your own

Hope that was interesting

Red
 

Toadflax

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Mar 26, 2007
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Tutorial anyone? :D
I could ask why you haven't got anything better to do on a beautiful Sunday afternoon than sit in front of your computer collating a tutorial...

...but I won't! :D

Much appreciated - but I'm going to have to curb my patience and let SWMBO have a go at home made vinegar, seeing it was her idea in the first place.


Geoff
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
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Its an old one of mine Geoff - check the time between posts ;)

I don't publish a lot of my stuff on here these days since its more "self sufficiency" oriented than "Bushcraft" really. Red wine is easy though since you have a source of fermented material to begin with. You can buy aceto bacteria starter cultures on line if you wish - or even use a truly live unpasteurised vinegar to act a starter to create your "mother of vinegar". The tutorial starts from an assumption of nothing - do feel free to skip any bits that aren't relevant

Red
 

tommy the cat

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Feb 6, 2007
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Do you know Red I was about to post something up about sourdough!
Just finished the fantastic Dick Proeneke book which got me curious about sourdough as he eats a lot of it. I guess I fancied trying it to see why Dick loves it so much and have no idea
how to go about it so was gonna look at monster recipes.com. Great tutorial Dave
 

gregorach

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Sep 15, 2005
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Nice one Red - I particularly like the red cabbage titration method. Science is fun! :D
 

Ketchup

New Member
I find that vinegar fermenting starts spontaneaously. In case you're not confident, buy a small bottle of wine vinegar (organic, for once), or beg for a glassfull from your friend's, pour into a large glass jar and top up with your wine leftovers. Do not seal air tight, you need the oxigen (e.g. put an inverted glass over the mouth of the jar, just enough to keep the dust from falling in). Leave to brew, a slimy layer will form on top of the wine. When you top up again, that layer will sink and a new one will form. you can go on for years. harvest your vinegar (siphon) and top up now and then. There are purpose made stoneware or glass vinegar jars in the shops, they have e small tap near the bottom for pouring of the vinegar from under the "vinegar mother"

Remember that when using bad (corky) wine, you will obtain bad (corky) vinegar.

I know a colleague who has his own Chambertin vinegar, and Mouton-Rothschild vinegar, but that's a tat exagerated.

Red: the vinegar is obtained by turning exisiting alcohol (ethanol) into acetic acid. You cannot make vinegar starting from pure fruit juice, as far as I know?

Also, the newly added wine should not be poured "on the side" but generously, wit a lot of noice like sherry poured in Spain , for good aeration. Acetobacter needs as much oxygen as possible. Professional vinegar making is done by continuously pouring the wine, shower fashion, over a loose filter made of wood chips and re-circulating the wine until it achieves the right strength.

The sinking layers of mother-of-vinegar do not spoil under the liquid.
 

gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
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Mouton-Rothschild vinegar!!??:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

Excuse me while I splutter uncontrollably and suffer an outbreak of incoherent cursing. That sort of thing really shouldn't be allowed. Not while there are people in this world who can barely afford a Troisième Cru, if they're lucky. It's obscene.
 

Toadflax

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Mar 26, 2007
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Oxfordshire
Well, I finally got round to starting some vinegar. We had about a third of a bottle of Cava left over (OK, not quite Mouton Rothschild :D) so I left it in the greenhouse until a couple of flies fell in and there is now a good layer of surface scum.

I haven't tasted it yet, I'm not sure how long you need to leave it for the alcohol to convert. The red cabbage method looks nice and scientific, but I'm wondering if you could just dilute to taste (i.e. taste some commercial wine vinegar and gradually dilute your own to what tastes a comparable or an acceptable strength).


Geoff

EDIT: Just went and tasted some wine vinegar, and then my home made stuff. The home made stuff isn't nearly as strong as the commercial wine vinegar, so maybe it needs to 'brew' a bit longer.
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
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Takes a while Geoff - I reckon several weeks. Feel free to feed it some sugar and yeast to increase strength. I a live "mother" you have yeast to convert added sugar to alcohol and acetobacteria to convert that to vinegar. In commercial wine some times "stabalisers" will kill yeast so this may not work with your cava but its worth a try.

Shout for help if needed.

Red