The other night after I tucked Miley in bed and the older kids headed to bed, I decided I needed a little drink before I went to bed. As I was trying to decide what to drink, I saw the apple cider vinegar sitting on the cabinet and decided that it sounded good mixed with a little orange juice. I like to drink a little of it every once in a while because it’s supposed to have some good health benefits. Also, surprisingly, it’s pretty good mixed with a little orange juice as long as I don’t get the vinegar part too strong. As I picked up the bottle and glanced in it, I noticed a layer of white, slimy looking gunk on top. I was thinking “Eeeewww!” so I dug it out of the jar to get a closer look.
As I looked at it, I got a little grossed out, but then at the same time, there was something pretty interesting about it. I decided I had to show the kids. I went back to their room and told them I had something weird to show them as I turned the light on. “Eeewwww, what is it?” they both asked. I told them I found it floating in the vinegar. Brooke started laughing and said, “And you had to come all the way back here and get us out of bed to show us that?” I laughed and said, “Well yeah, because I’m kinda creeped out by it but yet it’s interesting at the same time. I wanted to show it to you before I throw it away.”
Once we got done laughing, we discussed what exactly it might be. I told them it reminded me of a SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. (A scoby is used to make kombucha, which is a fermented drink made from sweetened tea. We’ve never made kombucha before, but have read a lot about it because we’d like to try it sometime.) Thinking of the possibly it could something we could make more vinegar with, it quickly became pretty interesting, especially to the kids. I was still a little grossed out and just hoped it was something like that and not that my vinegar was rotten. I really didn’t want to have to throw out the whole bottle, especially since it was kind of expensive. We all decided to keep it until the next day when we could do a little research and find out exactly what it was. I put it back in the bottle and decided I really wasn’t that thirsty after all and went to bed.
The next afternoon, we got out the vinegar, and once again dug out that slimy gunk. I placed it on a small plate…
After observing it, we started researching what it might be and found that it was actually the mother of the vinegar. The mother is basically like a scoby from kombucha, but can also be referred to as the mother when talking about vinegar. I have been buying vinegar with the mother, like this….
for several years now and I had no idea that the mother looked like that. In fact, now that I think about it, I really didn’t know what I expected the mother to be like. In all the bottles that we’ve went through, none have ever grown a mother like that!
So once we figured out what it was, the next thing we had to do was figure out what to do with it. As we searched online, we found a lot of information on how to make apple cider vinegar from raw apple cider or fresh apples. Since we didn’t have either of those on hand, we started searching other options on what to do with the mother. One option we researched was to put the mother in some red wine to make red wine vinegar. That sounded really interesting but I wasn’t really willing to give up some of my wine for an experiment unless I knew for sure it would work.
The next option we read about was using apple juice to make vinegar with. We really couldn’t find a whole lot if information on using apple juice, but from what we read, it’s best to use unpasteurized and unfiltered juice. I had some unfiltered juice, but it was pasteurized. We decided to go ahead and use it anyway, hoping it will work. Here’s the brand we used…
We poured it into a clean jar, added a little vinegar to it, and carefully put the mother in….
Next, we covered it with a coffee filter and put it in a dark cabinet. From what I’ve read, it can take anywhere from several weeks to a couple months for it to turn to vinegar.
Here is what it looks like so far, after 9 days…
The first mother sunk to the bottom and a whole new mother grew, bigger and thicker than the last. It appears to be going good so far, but I guess time will tell. If it does work, I will experiment with some red wine next. I’m excited to try this out in the fall when we have apples from our tree. If it’s this easy and turns out great, it will be so nice to make our own apple cider vinegar… just think of the money we’ll save!
If it doesn’t work out, well… at least it’s been a great learning experience and an interesting science experiment, to say the least.