to Make Red Wine Vinegar
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: Grain
acidic, harsh: four words that dont exactly make our mouth
water. Unfortunately, theyre often words that come to mind
when tasting moderately-priced red wine vinegar that weve
bought at the store. Even more disappointing is that immoderately-priced
bottles arent often much better. This isnt the case
with balsamic vinegar were willing to splurge now and
then on a bottle of good balsamic imported from Italy because we
know we cant replicate the smooth, syrupy results at home.
But red wine vinegar is a different story. By taking matters into
your own hands, you can make red wine vinegar that is often much
better than what you can buy. Better yet, the whole process is much
easier than you might think.
It does, however,
require patience. About two months from start to finish. In fact,
were currently waiting for a batch to reach maturity and find
ourselves eagerly ticking off the days until we can whisk it into
vinaigrette. This sort of giddy anticipation is a big part of why
we love making our own food at home. If all goes well with the vinegar
currently sitting in a crock in our cupboard, were expecting
the flavor to be a bit fruity and earthy; mellow and not overpowered
by sharp acidity.
of the red wine you use will directly affect the flavor of the vinegar.
This doesnt mean the wine has to be expensive, it just means
it has to be wine that tastes good to you. The next step, finding
a good mother, can be a little more complicated. Relax this
step doesnt involve psychoanalyzing your relationship with
dear ol mom; were talking about an entirely different
type of mother.
A mother of
vinegar is a thin film of slimy, gelatinous bacteria that encourages
fermentation. If youve bought a bottle of raw apple cider
vinegar, youve probably seen a leftover mother floating in
the bottom of the jar. This bacteria has the more scientific name
of mycoderma aceti but calling it a mother is so much more poetic.
You can attempt to turn red wine into vinegar by just letting it
sit on your counter without a mother, but youre likely to
have tastier results with the help of some starter bacteria. The
magical thing about mothers is that during the fermentation process
they give birth to other mothers that can be used in
future batches of vinegar. People who regularly make their own vinegar
can use new generations of one mother to make vinegar for decades.
Mothers can even be passed on to friends as a floating blob suspended
in a little liquid usually wine diluted with water. Beer
and wine making stores also sell vinegar mothers for around $10.
If you cant find a store in your area, online
stores also sell mothers that are specific to making red, white,
malt and cider vinegar.
a mixture of wine, water and a mother, the only other supplies youll
need are a 12 gallon vessel to ferment the vinegar and some
cheesecloth. A ceramic crock works well because it keeps out damaging
light, but a jar wrapped with cloth or paper to keep out the light
could work, too. Covering the top of the vessel with cheesecloth
keeps insects out, but lets air get in to feed the bacteria. Tucked
away in a warm, dark place, the magical transformation into tasty
red wine vinegar will begin. Months later, youll be rewarded
and we think youll agree, its worth the wait.
There are people
who swear that the best vinegar comes from adding exact amounts
of wine over a specific period of time and people who swear that
measuring is pointless. This second, more adventurous camp simply
pours wine into their crock (which has a mother floating inside)
whenever they have wine leftover in a bottle. This approach keeps
a continuous batch of vinegar brewing, but you have less control
over the process.
the rest of the article
January 26, 2011
© 2011 Mark's Daily Apple
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