Our group of close friends has began giving each other more homemade gifts for holidays. It is really fun to see what crafts, homemade items, and creativity we can come up with. At Christmas we sat around my living room opening presents. I opened the wrapping revealing a canning jar with a garnet colored liquid with something gelatinous floating within. I excitedly yelped, as I knew precisely what it was. A mother.
To start vinegar, as in many other cases, one must have a mother. Rodney started his many months prior with an apple cider vinegar mother simply taken from a bottle of organic apple cider that says the mother is included. Bragg’s makes one. Seclude the gelatinous being floating about the jar (boy, this is getting more and more appetizing as we write, but stay with me now, good things are coming…) and place in a large glass container. For me, I got part of the red wine mother that was floating in Rodney’s vinegar after several months of brewing.
I placed the pint jar of old wine that became vinegar with the mother in a large glass container, added 1 cup of water, and the remaining wine in the bottle of red that had just started to turn. I covered it with cheesecloth to keep fruit flies out (Lord, those guys like to drink) and any cat hair floating through the air.
I am the sole wine drinker here at the farm unless I have friends or students over so I always have that last cup of wine lurking at the bottom of the bottle by the fourth day. It is not quite vinegar, not quite drinkable. And that last bit of precious wine does not go down the drain any longer but into the vat of vinegar on the counter. Oh, it is a lovely sight. I am not wasting wine, and I am making a product to give to friends, use myself in my farm kitchen, and sell at the farmer’s markets. In two months that first seven cups of wine, water, and mother have become the most delicious red wine vinegar. Just keep adding wine to the mixture.
White wine makes white wine vinegar, champagne makes champagne vinegar, beer makes malt vinegar, etc. It is superior to the stuff in the store and a lot cheaper than the fine vinegars at the market. I have made lovely salads for two days now with this vinegar that went something like this;
Tear up fresh butter lettuce, sprinkle on blue cheese, add slivered almonds, sliced strawberries. In a bowl mix 4 Tablespoons of olive oil, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar, a dollop of grainy mustard, a large dollop of jam (I used raspberry jalapeno), and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla salt. Mix well and drizzle over salad. A perfect combination of sweet, sour, savory, salt, and spice. Serve with Pinot Grigio.