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How to Make a Vinegar Mother: A Beginner’s Guide

vinegar mother
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Photosforyou

A vinegar mother works along the same lines as a sourdough starter or kombucha scoby — it’s at the heart of vinegar production. Once you have one, you can use it to make as much vinegar as you want. With this guide, we’ll show you how to make your own vinegar mother. 

A vinegar mother is a gelatinous disc that looks a bit like raw liver, and while that may sound gross, it’s an integral part of vinegar production. It starts out as those white streaks swimming around in the bottle, which over time come together to form the disc. It’s made up of a form of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that develop on fermenting alcoholic liquids. When combined with oxygen from the air, the bacteria turn alcohol into acetic acid.

Without the vinegar mother, alcohol would take much longer to be converted into vinegar. You can often buy vinegar mothers from organic stores or from wine shops. However, they are really simple to make: we’ll show you how.

Tip: you’ll need a vinegar specific mother — they differ depending on if you’re making apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar.

Mother of Vinegar: How to Make One

mother of vinegar
Bet you didn’t know how easy it was to turn wine into vinegar! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Kelsey Knight )

Red wine usually has fewer sulfites added compared to white wine which means it’s easier to turn it into vinegar. Depending on the time of year, the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The perfect time to start making your own mother of vinegar (MOV) is in summer because the process is much quicker during warm days.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup good quality red wine — choose a bottle that’s organic, unfiltered, natural and without sulfides
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (like Braggs, available on Amazon**)
  • 1 very large, sterilized glass jar
  • linen or cheesecloth
  • rubber band

How to Make Vinegar Mother from Red Wine

  1. Add the wine, water and vinegar to the glass jar, cover it with a breathable fabric like linen or cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Then keep in a warm place (out of direct sun) for 2-4 weeks.
  2. Keep an eye on it. You may see streaks of white floating in the container, but don’t worry, that’s a good thing. These floating streaks are what come together to form the vinegar mother.
  3. To check for the vinegar mother in an opaque container, you’ll need to carefully pour the contents of your jar through a plastic colander to see if a mother has formed. If a mother is left in the colander, carefully place it back in the container, and return the liquid to the jar.

The vinegar mother slowly grows as it turns wine into vinegar. Once the wine has been converted to vinegar, remove the vinegar, then add some more wine to “feed” the mother. Once she’s grown larger, more mothers will form on top, which you can use to either amp up your own vinegar production or gift them to friends and family. 

Tip: You can also make an apple cider vinegar mother using hard cider instead of wine!

Using Your Own Vinegar

You can continually make vinegar once you have a vinegar mother, just remember to use the proper wine.

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