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When Vinegar Goes South


Pat
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In all the years I've been cooking, I've never had this happen before, but my vinegar has gone bad. The pinot grigio vinegar I poured into my potato salad has definitely gone off. When I looked at the bottle after I realized something was wrong, I saw that the mother is enormous, taking up almost the whole liquid portion of the bottle.

I can't describe how it smells, but it just smells wrong. I noticed it because the potato salad smelled funky, and then I tracked it back and realized what it was. It does not smell like vinegar. It smells like a bad chemistry experiment. Rank. I opened it earlier this year, probably no more than 6 months ago. It's stored where I usually store vinegar. I don't what the deal is, but :(.

Since it has an impressive mother :blink:, is this something that can be salvaged to make more vinegar? I often end up with dregs of wine bottles that stay open for a long time. How would I convert these components into more vinegar, or is it just not worth it?

FYI: I chopped up a whole bunch of pickles and threw them into the potato salad, and that seems to have evened things out a bit. I don't figure funky vinegar is harmful. (It's not, is it? :() Maybe it prevents flu or something :o.

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Try taking a piece of the mother and throw it into a sterilized jar with your old wine, cut in half with water. Cover the opening with cheesecloth and put it in somewhat warm, dark place. If it starts to evaporate too quickly, experiment with partially covering the jar with a lid.

Check on it once a week or so, but don't expect anything dramatic for a while, these things take time.

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Try taking a piece of the mother and throw it into a sterilized jar with your old wine, cut in half with water. Cover the opening with cheesecloth and put it in somewhat warm, dark place. If it starts to evaporate too quickly, experiment with partially covering the jar with a lid.

Check on it once a week or so, but don't expect anything dramatic for a while, these things take time.

Thanks for your advice. If it happens again, I'll try that.

A couple of days ago, I finally decided to get the mother out of the bottle and experiment, without having much plan. I was stymied at the first step, since the bottle had a narrow neck and a plastic pour spout I could not dislodge from the bottle. After a frustrating battle, I finally gave up and tossed the bottle. I had been thinking I would need the entire mother, but I guess I did just need to get a piece out. No dice with that plastic locked across the top :(.

One thing I did discover in all this was that, separated from the mother, the vinegar actually is okay. I poured the liquid out into a mustard crock while I was working on the plastic top (not wanting vinegar to splash out all over). When I checked on it later, the vinegar smelled like vinegar again.

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Often times, I have no idea what you people are talking about. Thank gawd there is Wikipedia:

Mother of vinegar can also form in store-bought vinegar if there is some non-fermented sugar and/or alcohol contained in the vinegar. While not appetizing in appearance, mother of vinegar is completely harmless and vinegar does not have to be discarded because of it. It can be filtered out using a coffee filter, or simply left in and ignored.
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