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Discussion Starter #1
I have been starting a batch of apple cider vinegar experimentally for the first time and I stirred it everyday for the first week and then the second week only Monday Wednesday and Friday. Now it's the 17th day and didn't stir it Saturday/Sunday because I thought it would be ok to leave it sitting there 3 days without stirring it and this (see picture) has developed at the bottom of the container is it mold or the mother? I poured it in a smaller container clearing away all the fermenting apples leaving only the liquid for the second phase of fermentation. It smells alcoholic but definitely not vinegar is it ok or should I discard it? Please see picture.
 

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To be clear: you started this from apples & juice?

If so, what you're seeing is probably the yeast from the initial fermentation. After the alcohol is produced, the next step is fermentation into vinegar - and the effectiveness of that will depend on the alcohol content.
 

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Yeah, that definitely looks like yeast to me.

17 days should be sufficient for the initial fermentation to have run its course, so at this point I would filter it and transfer it to a clean container with a little mother, or some unfiltered vinegar. You CAN do it without mother but it's going to take longer. If you're checking daily, don't be worried if it starts smelling like acetone for a couple days - that's a transition state. With mother, you should have usable vinegar in a week or so.

In the meantime, get started on your next batch of cider, to keep it topped up! We make our own red wine vinegar (SO MUCH BETTER than the store bought stuff) - once we get a batch going, we just add a little wine anytime we have a bit left over, or left out too long, and we never run out!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Do I have to stir it everyday during this second phase while it transforms from an acetonic state into the real vinegar or can I just leave it there untouched the whole month for the sediments to settle at the bottom of the jar?
 

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We never stir ours. Just cover it with something reasonably porous so it can get oxygen. We splash it around a lot when pouring to help mix in more air.

Don't be put off if you get a slimy mass - that's the mother, a clump of the bacteria (and cellulose) that produces the change. Just filter it before using it.

I'm betting you won't want to go back to store bought after this!
 

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That still looks like yeast to me. All that would mean is that it's not fully fermented. Mold would more likely form on top.

If I were in your position, I would taste it. If there's any sweetness left, it's probably not done fermenting. If it's "tingly" with light carbonation, it's not done. If you really want to stop the initial (alcohol) ferment, filter it and then boil it. Acetobacter is airborne so that won't prevent the vinegar fermentation. Otherwise, just let it keep going until the yeast formation stops, then filter again and get ready to turn it into vinegar.
 
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