Just before the holidays, we pasteurized our vinegar to put an end to the growth of its voracious acetic acid bacteria, which consumed wine practically as fast as an adult human at a cocktail party. The mothers it created—the visible sign of bacterial activity, besides the shrinking wine level and the rapid conversion of wine to vinegar—were many, glistening, and plump. Pasteurizing would halt all activity, or so we'd read, heard, and believed. We poured the pasteurized vinegar into aging crocks and expected nothing but quiet mellowing.

So...yesterday we opened up the aging crocks.

What's that on top? Mold?

No, it's a mother, for heaven's sake. Enfeebled, but apparently determined. (The vinegar tasted exactly the same as it did when we pasteurized, by the way.)

How can we stop the persistence of the mother? Home vinegar-makers, do you have advice for us?

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