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Mother - dead or alive?  RSS feed

 
Steve Korper
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If you could please clarify the wine-mother-vinegar circle of life for me.
I received a 'mother' from one of my friends (who now moved to another state). I placed it in the bottom of a large jar, filled the jar with a white wine, and let it sit in a dark warm place. After a few days what seems like a 'new' mother began growing on top of the wine. It gets thicker over time.
Is this a good thing? Is it 'actually' a new mother being created? Is this how a new 'circle of life' occurs for 'mothers'?

Thank you in advance for your help.
 
Paul Andrews
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Hi and welcome to the forum

Is it like a scum forming on the top of the vinegar?

Paul
 
bud smith
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It sounds like your vinegar is progressing perfectly.
The mother that you introduced has inoculated the wine with the proper bacteria but for the mother to work properly it needs to be at the top of the liquid so it can have access to the required oxygen. What you are now seeing is a new mother forming at the top.
Try not to disturb this too much otherwise it will also sink and then a new mother must begin again.
 
Steve Korper
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I was told to place the mother in the bottom of the jar. Dilute the wine to 50%. Place saran wrap on the top of the jar to prevent evaporation.

The new mother grows on top of the wine.

Was I told correctly?

Steve
 
r ranson
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Steve Korper wrote:I was told to place the mother in the bottom of the jar. Dilute the wine to 50%. Place saran wrap on the top of the jar to prevent evaporation.

The new mother grows on top of the wine.

Was I told correctly?

Steve


Almost correct.

But keep in mind that vinegar making has been around for millennia, lots of different methods for different cultures (human and bacterial cultures). Basically there are lots of correct ways to do it. I have opinions on what I think is correct - but if your way works and gets the results you want, than it's the correct way for you.

That said, however, plastic is a very new invention. People have been making vinegar without it for a while now. If it were my vinegar, I would replace the saran with a smooth cotton or linen cloth.

A vinegar mother is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast that work together to make yummy vinegar happen. Some bacteria and yeast do poorly with oxygen exposure, like when making sauerkraut or wine. If we let too much air get at the wine, then the wine will transform to vinegar.

Since you want vinegar, I suggest allowing more air exposure by scrapping the plastic film. Then again, you probably don't want it to be full of dust and flies, so a different, breathable cover like cotton or linen towel... see where I'm getting?



As for diluting the wine... I'm not sure why this would be necessary, but if it works, I won't knock it. Maybe it would be worth trying an experiment with one batch diluted and the other full strength.


The Mother will produce a daughter and then die away. The mother often settles at the bottom of the ferment, releasing the good invisible beasties into the liquid. These beasties form a daughter near the surface where it can get at the oxygen. This daughter can be used as the new mother for the next batch. A bit complicated at the beginning, but trust me, it works.

Have a read of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, your local library should have it, for a more thorough explanation of what's going on.

It might help you see what's happening if you got a kombucha mother and grew it. It's very similar to a vinegar mother, but works much faster and is.. .um ... more obvious what's mother and what's not.
 
Steve Korper
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Thank you so much for your input. It makes much more sense now.

I just need to find a source to purchase a new mother to start all over again with.

Sincerely;

Steve
 
bud smith
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The reason people dilute the wine by 50% with water is because the acidic acid bacteria has an upper alcohol tolerance of about 14%. Some homemade wines will exceed this number and therefore will never make vinegar without dilution.
Once you have an active culture going, the alcohol is converted to vinegar thus reducing the alcohol to 0% when the conversion is fully completed. At this point you no longer need to dilute any wine that is added as the vinegar. Just make sure that the volume of added wine is not greater than 50% of the total mixture.
As far as using saran wrap as a cover, I think this is counter productive. The culture needs oxygen for the bacteria to work and limiting this exposure to oxygen is not wise. I use a paper towel held in place by a rubber band. The paper allows the vinegar to breath and it does lead to some evaporation, but this isn't necessarily bad. The condensed vinegar is even more flavorful when the volume is reduced in this manner.
 
Steve Korper
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Is there a way to start growing my own mother from scratch?

Steve
 
bud smith
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Steve Korper wrote:Is there a way to start growing my own mother from scratch?

Steve

Yes, judging from your first post, you are already underway in creating a new mother.
As a point of interest, I never use a mother whenever I am making a new batch. All I do is take some finished vinegar and add that to an equal amount of wine. The bacteria is present even in the vinegar without the mother being present.
 
Steve Korper
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I actually have nothing existing. We had a loved one pass away and too much time went by to salvage anything.

By what I read, and maybe you are telling me-
From scratch: Purchase a bottle of raw apple-cider vinegar with a mother (the mother is like a sediment and not like a jelly fish in this store bought variety)(mine was like a jelly fish)
mix some of this raw apple-cider vinegar 50/50 with a wine.
Can it be just the vinegar from the bottle or should I shake the bottle to mix the mother up and then use this as my 50% vinegar portion?

Steve
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My method to obtain a mother from scratch... Makes some wine without sterilizing the juice... Take some of the finished wine and put it in a jar that has lots of head-room, and cover it with a cloth. Check it once in a while to see if it has turned to vinegar. Any scum floating on top of the wine is new mother.

I really like using Pyrex casserole dishes. They have a lot of surface area relative to the volume they hold. They are my quickest containers...

I tend to shake-up the old vinegar when using it to seed a new bottle of wine.
 
bud smith
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Steve Korper wrote:I actually have nothing existing. We had a loved one pass away and too much time went by to salvage anything.

By what I read, and maybe you are telling me-
From scratch: Purchase a bottle of raw apple-cider vinegar with a mother (the mother is like a sediment and not like a jelly fish in this store bought variety)(mine was like a jelly fish)
mix some of this raw apple-cider vinegar 50/50 with a wine.
Can it be just the vinegar from the bottle or should I shake the bottle to mix the mother up and then use this as my 50% vinegar portion?

Steve

The method you described should produce a good vinegar for you. I would mix up any sediment that is in the vinegar bottle and include this with the starter.
A word of warning: if you are using a store bought wine then it will have sulfites . In this case I would expose the wine to lots of air for a few days before adding the starter. The oxygen in the air will combine with the sulfites and be dissipated as SO2 gas.
 
Mike Harmon
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Vinegar is made pumping O2 into a mash of apples and can result in commercial vinegar in as little as 24 hours.
Wiki has a short description of adding air to the mix:
". Fast methods add mother of vinegar (bacterial culture) to the source liquid before adding air to oxygenate and promote the fastest fermentation. In fast production processes, vinegar may be produced in 20 hours to three days."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinegar
Covering the container with saran wrap would stop O2 from getting to the aceterbacteria which eat the alcohol and convert it to acetic acid. Using fresh apples requires yeast to convert the sugar to alcohol first. I think the mother contains both the yeast and the bacteria but am not sure. If a scoby forms on top, then it definetly does contain both. A scoby is a "symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast" I beleive i read that the vinager mother after being bottled eventually returns to the bottom of the bottle and falls apart but all the bacteria and yeast are still there if not pasterized which kills it.
 
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