Intentionally creating vinegar

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Nick Z

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Greetings.

I was wondering if anyone was trying to create vinegar out of their cider or alcohol? I figure since I have some crud left over from racking my cider I might as well see if I can use some of it to get vinegar.

I am trying a wild ferment by just sticking sugar water in with fruit waste. I think it worked on one attempt but two others got a fuzzy mold. I tossed one and on the other I am trying to save.

I picked up a bottle of Bragg's vinegar. This has the acetic acid producing bacteria in it, I think. So I dumped some leftover cider into a jar along with some apple juice and a little Bragg's. My hope is that the yeast start munching on the juice and the bacteria start munching on the alcohol. I am going to try this with pear, apple, and quince fruit waste.

Any advice?
 

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  • Make sure the cider/wine/beer is fully fermented before you begin. This will reduce the likelihood of mold growth.
  • Use juice only, not solids.
  • Add your Acetobacter culture.
  • Keep it warm and provide plenty of oxygen exposure.
  • Keep it covered to reduce mold spores getting in.
Don't try to "save" products with mold. The mold may have produced allergens and/or toxins, which you can't separate from the liquid.... Unless you plan to distill.
 
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Nick Z

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I'll toss the one that had mold. But why not use fruit solids, if I may ask?
 

RPh_Guy

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They float on top, making a great place for mold to grow.

Wine makers "punch down" the fruit daily to avoid mold, so you could probably do that, but it's definitely risky.
 
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Nick Z

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I suppose I could weigh it down with a ziploc bag of water or brine, like with pickles. God, it's been years since I fermented pickles...
 

RPh_Guy

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That might work, but there needs to be lots of oxygen exposure for the Acetobacter to make acetic acid. Reducing the surface area would reduce the oxygen exposure. You may need to frequently give it a good stir.
 
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Nick Z

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What about taking a short piece of tubing and sticking it in the center of the mixture? As a sort of "snorkel"?
 

RPh_Guy

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Maybe. The more oxygen you can get in there, the faster it will finish. For example commerical vinegar can be produced in only a couple days because they continually add oxygen. If you're in a hurry you could easily do this with a stir plate or some kind of air pump like for fish tanks.

Acetobacter forms a pellicle that limits oxygen transmisson, so a straw or tube might not be particularly helpful.
 

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I used beer and a little bit of organic apple cider vinegar in a jar covered with muslin., My house is cold so it takes a few months to turn. A SCOBY will start to grow after a week or so. It is very satisfying experience, I have half a dozen jars on the go now.
 
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Nick Z

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I was going to use it in cooking and give it as gifts. A little vinegar can brighten up most savory sauces.

But please do not use it in canning or pickling. Canning recipes with vinegar added always assume a stable 5% distilled vinegar. Without knowing precisely what the level of acidity is in your vinegar you run the risk of a pH that is too high in your canned goods. And if you don't have enough acidity in your jar you run the very real risk of botulism. Botulism literally kills people.

Unless you are using a pressure canner.
 

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This remembers me of my mead vinegar experiment in my fridge.... Opened bottle of mead, which was anyway oxidised, standing there since months. Smells pretty much like vinegar by now, I might have a closer look today and if there is no mold, I might even try it.


..... Yes, I call all my forgotten/to lazy to throw away bottles "experiments".
 

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I originally made it to add to a Flanders Red when bottling as I read it can help but most has gone on chips or salad. I have a spoonful in water in the morning if I remember. The taste is very nice and would be expensive to buy.
 
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Nick Z

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Update:

My vinegars are still doing... something. I think I have the white film indicative of a vinegar "mother" on two jars. The bubbling has died down a lot. I don't know whether the yeast ran out of food for making alcohol or whether the acetic acid bacteria aren't present or doing their thing. I added a little sugar to two jars to see what happens.

I've been punching down the fruit daily and so far no mold. The smell of the stuff isn't terribly strong. A faint combination of yeasty and vinegary. Most of the fruit pieces are starting to break down in the jars.... except for the quince. That stuff is tough.
 

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no it doersn't.....as far as i've heard/read, you just won't be able to move....which is what does the killing....;)
The toxin causes muscle paralysis. With full muscle inhibition you will be dead in minutes. It turns out that you need your diaphragm and cardiac musculature. Plenty of people die from food poisoning.
 

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It isn't the not being able to move part that kills you, it's the cardiac and/or respiratory arrest directly caused by the toxin.

If it affects your cardiac musculature (causing cardiac arrest), you will lose consciousness in a few seconds.

There indeed might be a dosage window where you suffocate from respiratory arrest but remain conscious for a couple minutes while that happens.

Again, none of this is a concern for us, fortunately. :)
 

bracconiere

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i forget the exact episode, probably something to do with meat. but i got most of my description from an episode of good eats from his nutritional anthropologist....
 

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http://nordicfoodlab.org/blog/2012/03/vinegar-from-the-orleans-method-to-food-lab-experiments

just googled orleans method(something else i learned from good eats), didn't actually read the whole thing...but it's got pictures! lol
Wow, this is completely false:
"It is very important that the mother is not disturbed as if it sinks to the bottom of the vinegar, the ABB within the mother will be deprived of O2 and the mother will rot and ruin all the vinegar."
It definitely won't "rot" or cause any problem whatsoever. Also it's AAB -- acetic acid bacteria.

At least that article discusses the importance of aeration and temperature.
 
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Nick Z

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no it doersn't.....as far as i've heard/read, you just won't be able to move....which is what does the killing....;)
Chances are you aren't going to run into botulism outside of a canning jar. That is how the vast majority of botulism poisoning occurs. The way you keep the bacteria in check is to make sure everything in the jar is acidic enough. The bacteria don't like acid.

The reason not to use a home made vinegar in canning is that you don't know what the acidity is. If you had a way to test that with some precision you probably could use a home made vinegar in canning.

But if a pickle recipe calls for regular distilled white vinegar (which I think is usually 5% acetic acid) and you toss in something that is only 3% you're taking a big risk.

But I don't think it would come up in home brewing. Or in making vinegar, since that requires oxygen.
 

bracconiere

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Wow, this is completely false:
"It is very important that the mother is not disturbed as if it sinks to the bottom of the vinegar, the ABB within the mother will be deprived of O2 and the mother will rot and ruin all the vinegar."
in the good eats episode, that i learned about the 'orleans method' they had mothers at the bottom of carboys as back up and said that if they put them in fresh wine, they'd float back to the surface.....guess i should have read the link, instead of just look at the pictures, lol
 

bracconiere

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If you had a way to test that with some precision you probably could use a home made vinegar in canning.
like a ph meter? or a bicarb titration?

edit: just scrolled to the top of the page, i have to apologize, didn't realize this was fermented foods, most brewers have ph meters....sounds like something useful for homemade vinegar too!

could use a ph meter kinda like a hydrometer for telling when all the ethanol has been converted....
 
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Nick Z

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like a ph meter? or a bicarb titration?

edit: just scrolled to the top of the page, i have to apologize, didn't realize this was fermented foods, most brewers have ph meters....sounds like something useful for homemade vinegar too!

could use a ph meter kinda like a hydrometer for telling when all the ethanol has been converted....
You may want to consult experts but I would think a pH meter would work. I don't have one yet but plan on getting one. pH meters are a common way to determine whether what you are canning is acidic enough. I suppose you could take a pH reading of some commercial vinegars and compare your own to see if the pH of yours is the same or lower. I don't know if home made vinegar is as stable as distilled vinegar.

If you are just adding small amounts of a home made vinegar for flavor to something that is already naturally acidic enough (say, peaches) then you should be fine.
 

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The reason not to use a home made vinegar in canning is that you don't know what the acidity is. If you had a way to test that with some precision you probably could use a home made vinegar in canning.
You could use a pH meter to make sure the food is under 4.5 when canning.

If desired, you can use an acid titration (with or without a pH meter) to determine the strength of the vinegar. Measuring pH does not tell you the strength.
I don't know if home made vinegar is as stable as distilled vinegar.
It is stable.
 
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Nick Z

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You could use a pH meter to make sure the food is under 4.5 when canning.

If desired, you can use an acid titration (with or without a pH meter) to determine the strength of the vinegar. Measuring pH does not tell you the strength.
The strength of standard vinegars is 5% acetic acid. If you could match that you would be fine.

I don't know that measuring the pH would work if you were canning, say, pickles. You could get a reading of the brine, yes. But not of the cucumbers. For something more homogeneous, like applesauce, you should be able to get a reading. I am getting a pH meter soon precisely to measure the pH of jams and jellies. I've been dumping in tons of lemon juice to be on the safe side and I may be overdoing it.

Though if the pH of my mixture read at exactly 4.5 I would probably add lemon juice anyways. That's too close for comfort. I had the fear of botulism driven into me pretty hard by my canning books.
 

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I know its obvious but you wont get a really strong vinegar from a session beer. Mine is not quite as acidic as commercial vinegar but its very close and very nice. I would not worry about the SCOBY dropping as a new one will form within a week. I have a jar with 4 or 5 at the bottom. They sink when you tip the jar for a taster. If your in a hurry just leave it alone.
My apple cider vinegar has never formed a SCOBY for some reason. Anyone know why? Its almost done.
 

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a really strong vinegar from a session beer.
Assuming you let it ferment to completion, the final acetic acid level will be close to the initial ABV.
If you're in a hurry just leave it alone.
If you're in a hurry you need to keep it warm and add as much oxygen as possible. :)

One of the articles above said theirs is done in 6 hours, facilitated by adding huge amounts of air.
My apple cider vinegar has never formed a SCOBY for some reason. Anyone know why? Its almost done.
The film is called a pellicle.
Wild microbes are unpredictable. Did you add any culture to it from a batch that does form a pellicle?

Cheers
 

Beer666

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Assuming you let it ferment to completion, the final acetic acid level will be close to the initial ABV.

If you're in a hurry you need to keep it warm and add as much oxygen as possible. :)

One of the articles above said theirs is done in 6 hours, facilitated by adding huge amounts of air.

The film is called a pellicle.
Wild microbes are unpredictable. Did you add any culture to it from a batch that does form a pellicle?

Cheers
It actually says on the bottle never been above 37c. Do they pump oxygen directly into the liquid? There is nowhere very warm in our house so will have to let nature take its course with mine.

I was under the impression it is a SCOBY as i read somewhere you can convert ( not sure if that the right term) to make kombucha. Looks like a mini pancake.

I initially added some organic apple cider vinegar to get it going. I have tried without but after a while it smelt like old socks so i had to add some vinegar. Its the batch below, the pong has faded and its getting close to finishing (i think). :)

DSC_2223.JPG
DSC_2225.JPG
DSC_2227.JPG
 

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It actually says on the bottle never been above 37c. Do they pump oxygen directly into the liquid? There is nowhere very warm in our house so will have to let nature take its course with mine.

I was under the impression it is a SCOBY as i read somewhere you can convert ( not sure if that the right term) to make kombucha. Looks like a mini pancake.

I initially added some organic apple cider vinegar to get it going. I have tried without but after a while it smelt like old socks so i had to add some vinegar. Its the batch below, the pong has faded and its getting close to finishing (i think). :)

View attachment 657239 View attachment 657240 View attachment 657241
Scoby, pellicle.... Kind of the same thing actually.
 
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RPh_Guy

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It actually says on the bottle never been above 37c
Most microbes work fastest in the 30-37°C (85-99°F) range.
Do they pump oxygen directly into the liquid?
"This [...] relatively large piece of machinery [...] [allows] the production times of vinegar to go down to around 6 hours per batch. [...] The ‘Frings Acetator’ works quickly by pumping 1600 L of air per hour thorough [sic] a carbon filter and into a type of blender where it is “atomized’ into the alcohol substrate. The alcohol is acetated [sic] at 30 °C and the acetator is equipped to keep this temperature stable."

If you felt the need to make large quantities of vinegar quickly, you certainly could do that at home...
Continuous aeration
https://www.morebeer.com/products/aeration-system.html
Heating
https://www.morebeer.com/products/fermwrap-heater.html
Temperature control
https://www.amazon.com/Inkbird-Max-1200W-Temperature-Controller-Greenhouse/dp/B01HXM5UAC/

Leaving it sit for weeks-months is fine too.
I was under the impression it is a SCOBY as i read somewhere you can convert ( not sure if that the right term) to make kombucha. Looks like a mini pancake.
SCOBY refers to a mixed culture of Yeast and Bacteria, the microscopic organisms.

These microbes can form a film; the film is called a pellicle. Not all pellicles are from a combination of yeast and bacteria, and a "SCOBY" (mixed culture) can exist without a pellicle. Therefore "SCOBY" does not equate "pellicle".

There are 3 different fermentations happening to various degrees in a wild mixed culture:
Sugar -> Ethanol (by yeast)
Sugar -> Lactic Acid (by lactic acid bacteria)
Ethanol -> Acetic Acid (secondary fermentation by acetic acid bacteria, and to a lesser extent, yeast and other types of bacteria)

The vinegar culture will indeed ferment sweet tea into something resembling kombucha, assuming the yeast haven't died. YMMV. There's no kind of "conversion" needed.

¡Salud!
 
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RogerL47

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Maybe. The more oxygen you can get in there, the faster it will finish. For example commerical vinegar can be produced in only a couple days because they continually add oxygen. If you're in a hurry you could easily do this with a stir plate or some kind of air pump like for fish tanks.

Acetobacter forms a pellicle that limits oxygen transmission, so a straw or tube might not be particularly helpful.
Infusing air into the batch transforms it into a "submerged" process rather than a "static" process, in which case, the process should be monitored closely. Once the acetobacter (Vinegar producing bacteria) consume all of the available food source which would be ethanol, they will start to consume the acetic acid already produced (Over oxidation). If this happens, the batch is converted back to water and cannot be recovered.
 

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Update:

My vinegars are still doing... something. I think I have the white film indicative of a vinegar "mother" on two jars. The bubbling has died down a lot. I don't know whether the yeast ran out of food for making alcohol or whether the acetic acid bacteria aren't present or doing their thing. I added a little sugar to two jars to see what happens.

I've been punching down the fruit daily and so far no mold. The smell of the stuff isn't terribly strong. A faint combination of yeasty and vinegary. Most of the fruit pieces are starting to break down in the jars.... except for the quince. That stuff is tough.
It sounds as if you've got a process where you're expecting an ongoing ferment in both, alcohol production and then vinegar production. Quite possible but very difficult to balance.
 

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The toxin causes muscle paralysis. With full muscle inhibition you will be dead in minutes. It turns out that you need your diaphragm and cardiac musculature. Plenty of people die from food poisoning.
Take a grain of sand. Break it (hypothetically) into 10 pieces. Just one of those pieces will kill you. In fact, 2 kg of botulism is able to kill every living person on earth. The military once thought of using it for chemical warfare.

Fortunately 100C destroys the toxin. This type of bacteria is cyst forming. The cyst remains active for many years. These cysts have been found in Egyptian tombs and very much alive. To kill these cysts, the water temperature must be raised to a 115C which can be accomplished with a pressure cooker. That is why there are "canning" pressure cookers.
 

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It actually says on the bottle never been above 37c. Do they pump oxygen directly into the liquid? There is nowhere very warm in our house so will have to let nature take its course with mine.

I was under the impression it is a SCOBY as i read somewhere you can convert ( not sure if that the right term) to make kombucha. Looks like a mini pancake.

I initially added some organic apple cider vinegar to get it going. I have tried without but after a while it smelt like old socks so i had to add some vinegar. Its the batch below, the pong has faded and its getting close to finishing (i think). :)

View attachment 657239 View attachment 657240 View attachment 657241
From the looks of the "mother", that batch has been finished for quite some time. It is possible that it will then go into a 3rd phase (over oxidation), where the batch will be converted back to plain water.
 
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