Vinegar Mothers


Those of you who have read Henrietta, the first book of my series Sins of the Mothers may remember that Cook Ashby falls back on an ancient cottage remedy to break Henrietta’s pneumonia fever and save her life. I’d never heard of vinegar mothers until researching this part of the book and confess that the slimy mess sounded revolting. Imagine my surprise recently when I discovered vinegar mothers growing happily in my kitchen!

I keep several often-used cooking aids on my counter top: coconut oil, garlic, honey, olive oil, a jar of my own coating mix and a variety of vinegar – balsamic, white wine and apple cider. It was the apple cider bottle which developed a cloudy mass looming menacingly in its depths. When I decided it was best down the drain, this mass oozed reluctantly out of the narrow neck, hesitating at the brink as if it didn’t really want to leave the safety of its incubator.

I did not capture the growth; I was not tempted to see if it would cure my cold. I was glad to see it slither away but I realized that had it not been for research for my novel, I never would have known that – according to  country-lore – it contained medicinal benefits.

So, I did what any computer user does these days and went to Google. I was amazed to see that Mother of Vinegar was actually on sale! Here’s what Wikipedia had to say:

Mother of vinegar is a substance composed of a form of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that develops on fermenting alcoholic liquids, which turns alcohol into acetic acid with the help of oxygen from the air. It is added to winecider, or other alcoholic liquids to produce vinegar.[1] Mother of vinegar is also known as Mycoderma aceti, a New Latin expression, from the Greek μὑκης (fungus) plus δἐρμα (skin), and the Latin aceti (of the acid).[2] The naming of the bacteria has been rather fluid due to its original identification near the inception of bacteriology. Currently, the preferred naming is Acetobacter aceti.[3]

Mother of vinegar can also form in store-bought vinegar if there is some non-fermented sugar and/or alcohol contained in the vinegar. This is more common in unpasteurized vinegar. While not appetizing in appearance, mother of vinegar is completely harmless and the surrounding vinegar does not have to be discarded because of it. It can be filtered out using a coffee filter, used to start a bottle of vinegar, or simply ignored. –

Hm! Completely harmless – perhaps. Positively beneficial – who knows? I’m still not sure I would have swallowed it! What about you?

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