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Unidentified floating objects in vinegar

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My bottle of Spectrum organic red wine vinegar (about four months old) has become cloudy (I've seen this before). However, what I haven't seen before are the thin, white-ish 1-1/2 inch square "rafts" that are floating in the vinegar. Does anyone have any idea what this could be?

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  1. i have seen that before, i just assumed it was some sort of by product of fermintation

    1. Sounds like you've got a "mother" developing. Interestingly, my Spectrum red wine vinegar did the same thing.

      The mother won't harm or compromise your vinegar in the least. But if you let the mother develop into a floating mass you can decant the vinegar into another container, extract the mother and use it to make your own vinegar.

      1. Interesting -- what do you do with the "mother" to make more vinegar?

        2 Replies
        1. re: pikawicca

          Put the "mother" in a clean jar. Add leftover wine from your meals and pretty soon you'll have wine vinegar developing. I have a jar beside my kitchen sink and religiously add the last inch from my glass. Let it age for a bit and enjoy!

          1. re: Sherri

            Lucky you. Yes make your own vinegar!

        2. Discussion of recipes moved here:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          1. The "mother" is composed of a mass of cellulose. While it is actively "fermenting" the liquid into vinegar it will float in the liquid. Once the liquid has turned into 100% vinegar (also referred to as 100 grain), the mother with rest at the bottom of the liquid. She is still "alive," just dormant, and can be used to ferment other liquid.

            1. By the way, if you just want to temporarily clarify the vinegar you can pass it through a coffee filter and it should stay dlear for a few weeks to months.

              You can also kill the mother and permanently clarify it by heating the vinegar, in a pan or a sealed container in a water bath, to 160 degrees F. This is high enough to kill the mother but not high enough to damage the taste of a fine vinegar.

              1. I hate to bump up a really old thread, but I didn't know if I should start a knew one when this topic header perfectly suits my own question.

                Just recently we looked at a bottle of balsamic vinegar we'd been using for a little while. It's "Bellino" brand from the supermarket, nothing fancy. And there are these very obvious little white specks floating on the top. They remind me of either yeast or tiny maggots. (No, they don't seem to move.)

                I have read (though not quite understood) about the concept of "mothers" in vinegar, but people have described those as sort of gellatinous. The specks in our bottle are definitely not like a jellyfish. Just lots of little white particles on the top. Is this basically just mold formed from a cheap supermarket brand of balsamic? (I notice that the second ingredient is "concentrated grape must." Should we have been keeping this stuff in the fridge this whole time?) Should we toss this vinegar?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Mola Ram

                  It is probably mold. Some of the mother may have collected on top. Sometimes mold can grow on the mother. I would just chuck it out.

                  1. re: JMF

                    Thanks. It's going down the drain. Yeah, unless someone here made a pretty convincing case that the floating specks were some awesome great thing, I was gonna be chucking it.