New batch of vinegar
I made a batch of vinegar recently, which I will describe how to soon. The "mother" of vinegar is just cellulose, which is created by the harmless bacteria in vinegar. You can see it, in the above picture, floating on the surface of my new brew.
Mother created, from old batch of vinegar
Taken from the surface of the old brew, you can see this mother has several distinct layers. The top layers are thin, slimy and pink. I didn't have any mother to colonise my old brew, so it basically had to start from scratch, which is why the top layer isn't as healthy.
The layers underneath are a lovely healthy white however, and they easily peel away from each other. I took the last layer and placed it on my new batch of vinegar, to help colonise it faster. If you make consecutive batches of vinegar, like I do, be sure to keep some of the mother from the old batch, to help colonise the new batch of vinegar, faster.
So how to make vinegar?
Three stages of processing
It's really easy. You just need some leftover peelings, or even fruit which has gone soft. I regularly use the peelings and cores of apples, pears and pineapples. I've even used a bunch of grapes I forgot about, at the bottom of the fridge.
You put them in a jar which can fit them comfortably, add water until an inch before the top, and depending how big your jar is, add some sugar. For jars over a litre, I use 2 heaped dessert spoons. Smaller jars are one heaped dessert spoon, and for something around (or under) 500mls, I might use a heaped teaspoon. Then you simply place a breathable cover over the top, secure with an elastic band and let sit for several weeks, out of direct sunlight.
In the above picture, you can see on the left, a jar of peelings I was about to add water and sugar to. The middle jar has been sitting for several weeks, and the last jar (right) was my brew jar, which was about to receive the strained contents of the middle jar.
Ready to go to the bottom of the pantry
I love my brew jar, its big and came to me, missing a lid, so it was perfect. It carries several litres and was recycled from my husband's workplace. For new readers, he's a chef.
I generally try to make batches of vinegar, so when my brew jar starts to run low, I can add new fermented batches of vinegar to it. What I need vinegar for (mainly to use as rinse in my washing machine) comes from this main brew jar.
Strained jars and remaining solids
These were two jars I strained recently, to add to my brew jar. I just use a strainer over a bowl, lined with cloth and pour the liquid out. The cloth in the strainer catches any solids. Then I pour the contents of the bowl, into my brew jar.
I try not to use the contents of the brew jar for a couple of weeks. When I see the mother on the top, growing more and more layers, it tells me the vinegar is ready to use. The liquid will also become clearer, and not so cloudy.
The plastic white vinegar bottle you can see in the above image, I add to a separate bottle, just for my washing machine rinse. I fill most of this bottle with my home made vinegar, adding about a quarter to a third of the processed stuff. This helps me to spread my costs so I'm buying less processed vinegar, but I'm also using household fruit wastes in a different way.
If you have a range of sizes of jars, like I do, you can make a batch of vinegar, according to how much peelings are made. So if you're living by yourself, you can still make vinegar. You just make it in smaller batches. I've been known to even add peelings to a new ferment, the very next day, because I ate an apple. The vinegar jar was closer than the compost bucket.
So give it a go. Then you can claim you made your own mother!