According to Brian J.
Helsaple's A - Z vinegar glossary of vinegar terms, the bacteria
zoogloea appears at first as a transparent haze in the vinegar fluid.
Undisturbed and relying on oxygen, the zoogloea forms on the surface of the vinegar to
protect the contents underneath. As it grows it becomes leather like but upon touching it you
discover a slimy, slippery yet solid rubbery mass of gelatinous something. If left
undisturbed it can grow to a thickness of 1.25 inches per year. Allowing alcohol additions to wet the
surface of the zoogloea cuts off oxygen. It will sink to the bottom lifeless allowing
another to form to protect the contents.
food dictionary defines Mother of Vinegar as: A slimy, gummy substance made up of various
bacteria specifically mycoderma aceti that cause fermentation in wine and cider and turn them
into vinegar. Known as mère de vinaigre in French and sometimes simply as "mother" in English, its
growth is best fostered in a medium-warm environment (60°-85°F). The mother should be
transferred to a new mixture or discarded once the liquid has turned to vinegar.
on the left, the Mother is quite disgusting to look at and most
people are not sure they would like to try the final results after
they take a peek into the crock.
As stated by
Epicurious, it is best to throw the old Mother away or better yet,
fish it out and give a slab of it to a friend. I have given
away pounds of this stuff to my friends here in Detroit as well as
Internet wine geeks from all parts of the globe. The furthest
location my Mother has been mailed is the Isle of Jersey off the
coast of France.
Once the Mother
has sunk to the bottom, I pour out the resulting vinegar and strain
it through several layers of coffee filters. This technique of
removing any sludge or bits of floating Mother works well. The
vinegar, though cloudy, is dark and intense and better than anything
you could buy in a store.
Over the years, my
crock of vinegar has been blessed with the dregs of incredible wines
left over from large tastings. Every time I dump a glass or
empty the bottom of a bottle of Ridge into the crock I smile, knowing that the
crock has thanked me.
To read some do's
and don'ts and other comments on the fine art of making vinegar -