Making Vinegar

The blog has been a little silent, mostly because I’ve been too busy shovelling all winter long.  Whew.  I think we’re up to #3 snowiest winter ever, and from the looks of the forecast, we’re not done quite yet though there was some loud, house-shaking thunder this morning accompanied by freezing rain.  But hey, the last two winters I think we only managed about six inches of snow each, so it’s nice to have a proper winter again.  I do like everything to be covered in snow rather than trudging around in a mushy, muddy mess.

We’ve been up to something new!  Husband found an advertisement for a vinegar making kit in a magazine and hinted about it around Giftmas time.  So, I took the hint, and it ended up being his present.  The kit, purchased from The Brooklyn Kitchen, didn’t include the vinegar mother or culture for starting the vinegar, so I had to purchase that separately.  Basically, it’s a bacteria that converts alcohol into acetic acid.  The amout of alcohol in your starter liquid (beer, wine, hard cider) is the amount of acid you’ll have in your vinegar.  You want something around 5-7 percent alcohol, so if you’re using wine, you need to dilute it by half with water, and make sure it doesn’t have any preservatives or sulfites that will kill the vinegar mother.  The mother will slowly form as a slimy, gelatinous layer on top of the liquid.  It’s totally safe and completely harmless.  It likes to work at a higher temperature (85 degrees F), but we don’t keep our house that warm in the winter, so it just takes longer, no big deal.  For more information on making vinegar, check out this link.

Husband was pretty excited to get going on his vinegar, so he grabbed a case of Yuengling Premium and loaded up the barrel which means we get a malt vinegar (perfect for french fries).  It sat from December through February and we finally bottled it February 16th.  The information told us that when it starts to smell like nail polish remover, it’s almost done.  Sure enough, that day rolled around about three weeks ago, so we let it sit a little while longer just to be sure.  We bottled the finished vinegar into two 8 oz bottles and shared one with the neighbors.  It’s not much, and we left a good bit of starter liquid behind, but the resulting vinegar for our first go is really good!  Because this was the first use of the barrel, the vinegar picked up a TON of oak from the fresh char on the inside.  We even took a chunk of the mother out to start another glass container with a botched batch of mead to make a mead vinegar.  That should be interesting!  We decided not to pasteurize the vinegar (which would kill the bacteria and allow it to be stored at room temperature) and instead are keeping the bottle in the fridge.

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Today I decided we needed a label for the bottle, so I found a template and slapped together a small label for the wee bottle (the label only measures about 4″ high by 1.5″ wide).  I found a sheet of gummed label paper we used for homebrewing and printed out a sheet of labels that we can use on future bottlings.  I’m pretty happy with how they came out!

Vinegar Barrel – The Brooklyn Kitchen – $100
Malt Vinegar Mother – Beer & Winemaking – $17.99
Label Paper – Midwest Supplies – $5.99
Bormioli Rocco Bottle – Everything Kitchens – $2.99 (We found ours at a local store for less)
Label Template – World Label – FREE
Fonts: Marshall (“Oak Aged”) – Guttenberg MF (“Malt Vinegar”) – Horizon Wide (“Phoenixville”) – Savanne (“Date, Batch, Base”)

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