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What in the world happened to my vinegar????

I just pulled my Spectrum brand organic red wine vinegar and there was a solid white crust about 1/4 inch thick on the top and stringy sediment on the bottom. I thought vinegar didn't go bad? No where on the bottle does it say to refrigerate it. I don't have a sales receipt, but I want to take it back to Whole Foods. This is insane!

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  1. Sounds like it might just be vinegar "mother", in which case you don't have anything to worry about.

    9 Replies
    1. re: hohokam

      I just looked it up. Seriously, I've never hear of this before! The stringy sediment on the bottom looks more like mold. Is that OK?

      1. re: Magnificat2005

        It's not mold, it's bacteria, and perfectly harmless. From Spectrum's website:

        The milky strands and translucent shapes you find in our Red and White Wine Vinegars (or any of our other unpasteurized vinegars) is called "The Mother" of vinegar. Granted, this may be an overly poetic term, but it is perfectly safe and is in fact a sign of a genuine, unpasteurized, naturally-processed vinegar.

        "The Mother" (so-called because it actually creates the vinegar) is actually made up of the harmless vinegar bacteria called "Acetobactor." This is what turns the juice, cider or wine into vinegar. "The Mother" has enjoyed a prevalent folkloric past and unfiltered vinegars are thought to be particularly beneficial to the digestive system.

        Refrigerating vinegar will slow or stop the formation of "The Mother."

        Strain it out if it bothers you, and next time don't buy unprocessed organic vinegar.

        1. re: Jeri L

          Thanks! I should have checked the website. If it's good for me, I'll use it! I'll probably strain it, though.

          1. re: Magnificat2005

            Pop it into leftover wine and make your own. Lots of info on internet..........

            (I know, who has leftover wine !?!)

            1. re: dockhl

              Just be sure to add red wine to a red wine mother. You can add white or other wine to it but it gets a kinda "muddy" taste. Keep adding red wine and letting it age and you'll develop your own house red wine vinegar! Oh and keep it in a dark place. Now go out and get an organic white wine vinegar and start another one! And umm, if you drink a lot of wine and have leftovers, you may have to get a couple of small barrels.... or small bottles and give it away.... it's sort of like those guppies you had as a kid- eventually you have gallon jars of guppies everywhere!

            2. re: Magnificat2005

              well feel free to send the mother to me!!!! Mine didn't get enough air or wine or something and the whole darned thing died off.....
              lucky you! free mother!

              1. re: jenn

                You know, now I appreciate that some special happened here!

            3. re: Jeri L

              I have had this happen in non-organic, regular old grocery store balsamic vinegar as well. It was on the old side and developed the floaty stuff on the bottom. It's definitely fine to use the vinegar. It just looks weird!

            4. re: Magnificat2005

              It shows its real old-fashioned vinegar, rather than the industrially purified stuff more common in this age.