I have to admit that I’ve been enjoying a sort of sick pleasure in letting people guess away on this. Gracianne wins for most creative guess of ‘marinated alien’ [wouldn't that be AWESOME if it was]. And I’m giving the ‘best guess’ award to Maryann with ‘cranberry sauce or wine’. The answer: not an animal part. Mother of vinegar. What’s that? Good question.
A couple months ago the idea of making red wine vinegar from some not-so-great home-made-from-fresh-juice wine got batted around. Some bottles were spilled into a primary fermentation bucket used for wine-making. Life went on.
I had read that like a sourdough starter, it may eventually start to turn naturally given the right conditions. It could also mold and rot and turn into something needing to be spilled down the sink. So I ignored advice to [read: I was too lazy to] buy a starter to ensure a successful result. It did nothing for a very, very long time. Then.
‘Sweetie, were you using vinegar to clean a diaper pail or something? The laundry room smells like vinegar…’
I was shocked. And very excited. A few liters of red wine vinegar had just arrived in my home.
What happens is this big gloopy mat covers the surface, called a ‘mother’, and converts, via some coolio chemistry-related process that I’m far too lazy to dig up and divulge [like you care], wine into vinegar. If you want to know more, I did some reading here that helped give me a sense of what to try and expect.
One needs to feed their mother periodically with more wine. [joke opportunities abound] While I was away, mine was neglected. It sunk. But happily, I fed it a couple bottles of wine, and a nice, big, thick mat of goop has now happily reformed in my bucket, working away at making me some more vinegar. Awesome. Guess I won’t be buying red wine vinegar ever again.