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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vinegar Vinter

Winter began with me leaching sugar from apples I'd already squeezed the cider from. Then, my juice-aholic neighbor gave me a bunch of de-juiced pulp. Mostly carrot and apple, I think.

Luckily for me, there was plenty of veggie-fruit sugar, and I dumped it in a bin with some artesian well water, snapped on the lid, and walked away for a while. When fermentation slowed down, I strained everything through cheesecloth, put the liquid in the big jar (above), stashed it in a cupboard I rarely open, and walked away for a while.

This is the bacterial mat that made the vinegar. The small light patches are the newborn colonies of mold, I think. The vinegar is ready, and it's time to pull off the mother floccor, strain, and bottle the product before the mold messes it up.

I like the result. Smells as bright as it looks. At about 3.3 pH, it's plenty tangy, and tastes good. I think this one may get really good with aging.

So, it looks like I can continue to wring another product from leftovers of juicing and cider-making. Someone asked where I got the "mother" (the colony of flocculants some people call a SCOBY, used like a sourdough starter to get the ball rolling), but so far I haven't used one. I decided to try an approach that is lazy (or smart), cheap (or frugal), and unambitious (or stoic, maybe zen), and walked away for a while. Unlike beer, where a wild ferment will not yield what beer drinkers want, vinegar makes itself with the microbes ranging free in the Eastside Olympia air.