A Fun New Project in Fermentation
It's always fun to learn a new skill, and the newest one we're working on is making vinegar! This is a really easy project with little to no maintenance. It results in a rich and flavorful vinegar that we're featuring on our holiday menu. It's only a few ingredients: Frozen Berries, an open bottle of wine, and a little bit of Apple Cider Vinegar with the "Mother".
I started off by washing and sanitizing a 1/2 gallon mason jar, and allowing it to air dry. It must be completely dry because any chlorine left from the water will prevent the vinegar from fermenting.
Add the frozen berries, filling the jar about 1/3 of the way full. Next, add the Apple Cider Vinegar, just until it covers the berries. Be sure to shake the vinegar before adding, so that some of the "Mother" is included. This part is important because it kick starts the fermentation process.
Next, add your choice of red wine until it fills the jar about 3/4 of the way full. It's necessary to leave at least 1/4 of the jar empty; while fermenting, the vinegar will need space in the jar to give off carbon dioxide. I purchased special lids that allow carbon dioxide to escape the jar, while preventing debris from falling inside. You can also simply cover the jar with cheesecloth and a rubber band.
After that, you only need to store the vinegar in a dark place where it won't be disturbed, and wait. Ours took about two months to be ready for use, but you can lengthen or shorten that time depending on how sharp you want your vinegar. I've done two batches for comparison. You can see that the older batch is beginning to form it's own "Mother". As the vinegar ferments, the "Mother" will thicken and completely cover the top of the vinegar. When you're ready to use it, simply scrape away the "Mother", and then strain the vinegar into a fresh container. I chose to store our vinegar in pressure safe bottles. This ensures that the bottle won't burst in the event that the vinegar is still fermenting. I used the vinegar to make a vinaigrette, but you could use it anyway you choose. Enjoy!
Pressure Safe Bottles