Printer Friendly

French vinegar by way of Boise; here's a reliable way to make vinegar at home.

French vinegar by way of Boise

Here's a reliable way to make vinegar at home

Turning wine into vinegar is a natural transformation that's been understood for centuries. The basic chemistry is a two-step affair: yeast feeds on sugar in fruit juice, turning it into alcohol and creating wine. When the wine sours, the alcohol changes to vinegar. Romaine Galey Hon, of Boise, wanted to make vinegar the way she'd seen it made in French homes. In this process, adding a starter culture of bacteria and yeast cells--known as the "mother"--to small vats of wine slowly converts the wine to vinegar. The problem for home vinegar makers is getting a mother to use as a starter. Ms. Hon attempted many methods, then worked with Dr. Russell Centanni, a microbiologist at Boise State University, who helped identify reliable procedures. Unpasteurized vinegar, available in health- or natural-food stores, proved the best basis for producing a mother. When this vinegar is mixed with wine and water and stored in a warm place, a thin gelatinous film of bacteria and yeast cells grows over the surface. This film can convert alcohol to vinegar. Add more wine and water, and the mother converts them, in a month or so, to more vinegar. You can continue to produce vinegar as long as you feed the mother proportionally correct amounts of wine and water and do not fill the container too full (the process needs oxygen). A good container to use is a large, clear, wide-mouth glass or plastic jar. The mixture must stay in a consistently warm (70 [degrees] to 85 [degrees]) place. At higher or lower temperatures, the process may slow down or stop. Because the jar is covered with porous fabric to provide ample air, contamination by molds and other bacteria can be a problem. Keep the developing vinegar in a clean place. If mold appears, or if peculiar nonvinegar odors develop, discard the mixture, sterilize the jar, and start again. While the wine is in the process of changing to vinegar, it has a strong acidic aroma. If you find this unpleasant, store the mixture away from your living quarters. This homemade vinegar makes an excellent condiment. Use it to flavor foods as you would any wine vinegar; it's especially good on salads such as the one at lower right. However, since you cannot determine its exact acid level, do not use it for canning or pickling, procedures which require a certain percentage of acidity for food safety.

Homemade Wine Vinegar

To create a mother. Rinse a 2- to 4-quart clear, wide-mouth glass or plastic jar with water. Pour 3/4 cup dry red or white wine into the jar. Screw on lid and shake jar vigorously. Remove lid and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat shaking and airing wine 2 or 3 times; this helps eliminate any harmless gas that may have been added to wine to prevent the growth of vinegar bacteria. Add 1 cup unpasteurized vinegar and 1/4 cup water (diluting the wine makes it easier for the vinegar bacteria to grow); shake to blend. Rinse a double thickness of cheesecloth (about 3 in. larger than top of jar) and squeeze dry; place over the jar's rim and secure with a rubber band. Place jar in a warm place (70 [degrees] to 85 [degrees]), out of direct sunlight and away from house plants (so their microorganisms can't contaminate the vinegar). Let sit undisturbed until a whitish gelatinous film (about 1/8 in. thick) forms on the surface (this is the mother); it will probably take 2 to 4 weeks. Some liquid will evaporate. To make vinegar. Aerate 3 cups wine (red or white, whichever you started with for the mother), by shaking it vigorously in a covered 2- to 4-quart jar; remove lid and let stand about 5 minutes. Repeat 2 or 3 more times. Add 1 1/2 cups water, shake briefly to blend, and add to container with vinegar mother; do not fill jar more than 2/3 full. The mother may dissipate when you add liquid, but it will form again. Rinse the cheesecloth until clean and replace on jar; secure with rubber band. Let stand at 70 [degrees] to 85 [degrees] until vinegar tastes as you like, 1 to 3 months (disturb as little as possible). During that time, the mother will grow thicker and eventually settle; then another will form on top. Extra mothers can be removed and transferred to other jars to start more vinegar: always add 2 parts aerated wine to 1 part water. When the mixture tastes like vinegar, pour it through a fine strainer lined with 4 layers of damp muslin or fine-mesh cheesecloth. The vinegar is ready to use; return mother to vinegar-making jar. To keep a mother from growing in the strained vinegar, you can chill the vinegar, covered. Or pasteurize it to store at cool room temperature. Pour vinegar into a 3- to 4-quart pan. Cover and bring to boil over high heat, then boil for 3 minutes. Cool. Line the strainer with more clean, damp muslin or fine-mesh cheesecloth and pour vinegar through it, then into bottles. Cap bottles and keep in a cool place. If a mother starts to grow, repeat boiling process or refrigerate vinegar. When you remove vinegar, feed the mother with aerated wine and water (2 parts wine to 1 part water, in any amount that does not fill the container more than 2/3 full), and repeat. You can add more wine any time before the vinegar is ready, but it's best to collect leftover wines in the refrigerator, then add a large amount at one time. The mother works best undisturbed. And adding more wine before the current batch is ready dilutes the vinegar's acidity, delaying its progress. It's simpler to start a new batch. The first complete process makes about 1 quart.

Greens with Tarragon Vinaigrette

8 cups (about 6 oz.) bite-size pieces

butter lettuce, rinsed and crisped

5 cups (about 3 oz.) bite-size pieces

curly endive, rinsed and crisped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, stemmed and

cut in halves 1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons homemade red or

white wine vinegar (recipe

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1

teaspoon dry tarragon leaves

Salt and pepper In a large salad bowl combine the butter lettuce, curly endive, and tomatoes. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and tarragon. Pour over greens and tomatoes and mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Per serving: 72 cal.; 0.7 g protein; 7.1 g fat; 2.5 g carbo.; 6.2 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

PHOTO : Gelatinous mother of vinegar layers float in wine-water mixture. The mother converts

PHOTO : liquid to vinegar in about a month

PHOTO : Bottle homemade vinegar to use in vinaigrette for salads, or as a seasoning or condiment
COPYRIGHT 1990 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:includes recipe
Date:Apr 1, 1990
Previous Article:Turnips in a whole new light?
Next Article:Australian ways with lamb.

Related Articles
Here is one chef who is willing to declassify his recipe for salad dressing.
Roasting vegetables? It's a way to intensify their flavors ... and provide some surprises.
Pocket bread, yogurt sauce, and turkey burger.
Is there anything vinegar is not good for?!
Harvest-time recipes for the country kitchen.
The homesteader's guide to vinegar.
Testing vinegar.
Make a hard candy ... with vinegar.
Vinegar can be used for what?

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters