The morning/afternoon after a big party you may be thinking what can I do with all those little bits of wine left over in those bottles strewn around the dining room? As the tradies say ‘too easy’, don’t toss them down the sink, or your throat, make some vinegar from them! As far as home production goes this is one of the most straightforward things you can do and the results are not only tasty but very useful in the kitchen.
Step 1 – put your wine, (you can even use a bottle or two you’ve bought for the purpose), into a large bottle, such as a demijohn from your local brew shop.
Step 2 cover the opening with some cheesecloth artfully held in place with a rubber band to allow the liquid to be exposed to the air while keeping those pesky vinegarflies out of your vinegar (you know those tiny ones that annoyingly breed in your indoor plants).
The aceto-bacteria that will convert your wine into vinegar are naturally occuring in the air. If you can’t convince yourself that this will happen then you can get some non-pasteurised vinegar and whack that in along with the wine to act as a starter, just like you do with yoghurt. You’ll most readily find un-pasteurised vinegar at your health food or organic food shop rather than your supermarket – check the label before you buy.
Red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar happily developing away
Step 3 leave for about three months, hey presto! vinegar. *Time of production can vary depending on how the temperature varies – faster in warm weather and slower in cold.
Please don’t panic when you see this next photo, it’s not something unmentionable from a B-grade sci-fi movie, its a vinegar mother!
Vinegar mother, see not so scary after all
This is what will develop in your vinegar over time – don’t panic, it’s a good sign, really. Your aceto-bacteria are happily living on this cellulose raft, all you need to do is strain it off when you are decanting your vinegar into bottles for keeping. You can save some of the mother to start off future batches of vinegar. Excess vinegar mother will keep in the fridge for some time, I’m not sure about how it likes being frozen, but it could be worth experimenting with this.
All of the above also applies to making cider vinegar. As we made quite a bit of apple cider this year we have been able to put quite a lot aside for cider vinegar production.