Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nov 09: Experiment - Making Vinegar?

It's amazing how nature works. There seems to be some type of organism that feeds on the by-products of another organism, thus nothing in nature truly goes to waste.

For example, fermentation.
Many people think of fermentation as leading to the production of alcohol.

Yes, we enjoy alcohol. If we really look at where alcohol comes from, alcohols is the "waste" product of yeast consuming sugars.

Some caveman a few thousand years ago found that eating spoiled fruit or sweetened liquids gave them a feeling of euphoria.

However, the older the liquid becomes it eventually became sour. Yet, humans found uses for that sour liquid in preserving foods.

The way it works...
Step 1: Yeast eats sugar and makes alcohol. (Yeast eats sugar and makes alcohols as a waste product)
Step 2: Nature still working... A bacteria now finds alcohol tasty and starts consuming alcohol which makes acetic acid (vinegar) as a by-product.

What I did?
I had a bottle of Pinot Grigio from 2003 that was in the back of the pantry. Last weekend, we tried to open the bottle, but the cork was in tight (and it didn't help that I had a simple cheap corkscrew).

Finally, today, I bought a new corkscrew and it pulled that stubborn cork out with ease.
The wine still taste fine, but I'm not a big wine drinker and the fun was last week so I have a bottle of wine with a holey cork.

I decided to give try at making vinegar... In theory, it's only the fermentation of alcohol. All I needed was a mother.

The Quantities
1 bottle of wine - 750 ml
1/2 C Raw Vinegar - I found an apple cider vinegar at the local Coop.
2 C Water - I used distilled

Mixed in the water, apple cider vinegar and wine.

Covered with a towel and set into a warm place... my oven.
The bacteria needs oxygen so the towel cover. (I don't have cheesecloth.)

Will this work?
In theory it should... the bacteria in the raw vinegar should convert the alcohol in the wine, but I'm not 100% sure.

1. Bacteria (the Mother) can be very particular to the medium/liquid. For example, will the apple cider Mother like being in wine?

2. Did I add enough vinegar?

3. Will the sulfites in the wine act to kill off the Mother?

4. Now that I've looked up a few websites... most refer to making red wine vinegar. White wine vinegar can come out tasting corky or cardboardy...

5. Will I have the patience to stick with this experiment? It can take up to 3 months to convert wine to vinegar. I didn't expect it to take that long.

I should have researched this a little more, but we'll see how this experiment turns out over the next few months.

*** Update Nov18 ***
For the past 9 days, I've stirred the wine, every 3 days, with a slotted spoon. My reasoning is that the "mother" needs oxygen to propagate.

Over the past few days, I've noticed that the wine has become drier. Today, the there was a vinegary aroma, but no sour taste.

Visually, there are little floating bits in the wine. Hopefully, it's the mother forming. It could also be some type of precipitate from the wine.

*** Update Nov26 ***
About 2 1/2 weeks since the start of my vinegar experiment.
This is the first time I've stirred the concoction since Nov 18th.

There's definitely something growing in the wine. It looks like a gelatinous spider web floating in the wine. (Can it still be called wine?)

There is a vinegary aroma, but licking the stirring spoon, there is no strong vinegar flavor. In fact, there doesn't seem to be any particular flavor at all. I'm kind of hesitant to taste a spoonful.

My next step is to feed the bacteria by adding more alcohol to the mixture. Hopefully some more Pinot Grigio... as a last resort some diluted vodka (diluted to 10% abv).

Also, I'd like to transfer the mixture to another container. A sun tea jar? A large mason jar? Glass is preferred.

*** Update Nov28 ***
Today, I added about 1/4C liquid (10% Vodka solution).

I was surprised to see that the spider web mass has formed a layer on the surface of the liquid... in only 2 days.

This is a good sign that the aceto-bacteria have colonized the wine mixture and thriving. With positive signs that I am making vinegar, I was emboldened to give the liquid a taste (about 1/2 tsp). There is definitely a mild sour taste, not as strong as rice wine vinegar. No particular flavor or sweetness.

I stirred the mixture down... Not sure if I'm supposed to do that or not.
The image shows the cellulose layer containing the mother.

*** Update Dec 04 ***
Checking if the vodka had any effect.
Also, bought another bottle pinot grigio. The pinot gris has the flavor of a crisp green apple - sweet and slightly tart.

The vinegar: The solution is definitely tart. There's a faint, but noticeable sweetness.

The pictorial shows that there's quite a bit of acid (acetic acid - vinegar) in the liquid.

A 1/4 t of baking soda added to about 1/2 t of my experiment.

Wow! A acid-base reaction releasing CO2.

*** Update Dec 06 ***
Checking to see if the wine added any flavor or effected the mother?
Another cellulose layer is forming. However, I noticed a slight film on the side of the glass mixing bowl so I decided to decant the liquid and wash the bowl.

The flavor of the vinegar solution is ever so slightly sweet, tasting faintly of apples with a little lemon juice. However, the vinegar it's not that strong. Not enough time has elapsed since the added wine on Dec 4th.

Today, added more wine to the mixture with the hopes of boosting the flavor.
200 ml wine (13% abv) + 60 ml distilled water to make a 10% abv mixture.

The vinegar solution was decanted into a stainless steel bowl. The mother of vinegar (the mass that looks like a wet paper towel) is very noticeable. After the glass bowl was dried, the solution went back into the bowl and covered with a paper towel.

*** Update Dec 14 ***
It's been just over a month since I've started this experiment. There is a definite aroma of vinegar. I'm not sure of the stregth of the vinegar, but doing a taste with distilled white vinegar... this batch isn't as strong.

I'm going on vacation so I decided to aerate the vinegar before leaving town.

My basic method was to pour the vinegar back and forth between two bowls.
Does this really do anything? I'm just guessing that this will.

Decanting into another bowl...

There are bubbles forming due to the pouring action... Hopefully, this helps aerate the mixture.

The mother of vinegar formed a thick layer on the surface. Again, hopefully this is an indication that the experiment is going well.


Anonymous said...

I always wonder why wine vingear is so expensive - three months!!!

Eat4Fun said...

I've been reading up on the internet... White wine converts to vinegar at a slower rate than red wine and can take to 6 months. I definitely don't have the patience to run a 6 month experiment.

Anonymous said...

Good to see that your experiment is still going strong. Fab photos as always. Seems that it is very very sweet vingear at the moment. I will like see the results in a few months time. Happy Xmas and New Year to you John from Audax

Anonymous said...

Just be careful when you drink too much of that stuff. It's because one thing is for sure, alcohol is bad to the health when taken excessively.

Eat4Fun said...

I'm not worried about the alchohol. The great thing is the bacteria breaks the alchohol down vinegar.

Anonymous said...

Hello Eat4fun,

I'm just wondering if you'd be willing to share a little bit of your mother culture. It looks healthy and is definitely growing.

Eat4Fun said...

If you're in the Seattle area, I can give you the mother culture. I'm not sure I can mail liquids through the USPS and even if the mother would survive the trip through the postal system.

If you find raw vinegar in your area, it might be the best way to go.