How do I save my vinegar mother? I make homemade vinegar which is an...

Asked September 19, 2017, 6:04 PM EDT

How do I save my vinegar mother? I make homemade vinegar which is an addictive hobby! and I'm making fabulous "mothers" in each container. How do I store the mothers? I have too much vinegar for now and want to keep the mothers from drying out til I need to make more vin. BTW pineapple skins and core make divine vinegar.

Clermont County Ohio

3 Responses

What an interesting question! How do I save "vinegar mother"? I did find the topic addressed by Elizabeth Andress Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in the Making Apple Cider fact sheet. She states "While vinegar is fermenting, a jelly-like layer forms on top that is called the mother of vinegar. The mother is trapped and removed during the straining. It can be carefully saved and refrigerated for use as a starter with your next batch of vinegar." I did not locate a suggested time for safe refrigerator storage of the "mother of vinegar". I have requested assistance from an OSU Extension Food Specialist and will update the post with the information.

Please let me know how long I can keep vinegar mother in refrigerator. Does it have to be submerged in any liquid to keep it from drying out?

I received the following response to your question from Abigail Snyder, OSU Extension Food Specialist.

Thanks for reaching out, fermentation questions are usually strange. My suggestion, and what home fermenters I've seen do, is to keep the mother in a small amount of the vinegar it was in and store this in a food safe, closed container at room temperature. Some people will talk about "feeding" their mother by adding in sugar or new juice, which may help long term storage, but is probably unnecessary. This is similar to how sourdough starter culture can be handled.

In addition, Abigail Snyder, consulted fermentation biologists and they offered the following information.

As a follow up on the vinegar mother, I checked with my colleague who works with fermentation and the advice I gave still stands. She should be able to save the mother in a small portion of the fluid between uses without needing to feed it, but she can consider using beer occasionally to "wake it up" and feed it as an option.

She might find her fermentation improves if she heat treats her original material and adds yeast culture, if she's starting from fruit for example, then adds the mother in once the primary fermentation is complete.

The answer to the recommended storage time is still not addressed in the responses. But the intent of keeping vinegar mother in storage mode is use for future activation. I included a link to Abigail's email in the above response.