This Vinegar Will Not Die

January 28, 2009 | By | Comments (5)

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?


  1. pandora charms newcastle

    I hope you continue to update, I will continue to pay attention to it!

    April 13, 2011 at 6:06 am
  2. Margo True

    Hi Tom,

    Finally catching up with your comment! You are so right about the sterilizing. We now make sure to scald our crocks before we use them for aging. It seems to have worked.

    We’re also thinking of using diatomaceous earth to filter out the mother buggers before we age the vinegar. Apparently it’s helpful, and also gives the vinegar a beautiful clarity and sparkle.

    December 17, 2010 at 6:04 am
  3. Mo

    Don’t know if this is helpful or not, but you could use crushed campden tablets like are used to halt fermentation in wine.

    June 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm
  4. Tom Wirt

    time to re-up your vinegar articles. 60 days to summer…just time to make vinegar for all that wonderful summer cooking!

    April 24, 2010 at 5:38 pm
  5. Tom Wirt

    If you hadn’t gotten a reply to this question, the reason the mother came back is that you put the vinegar back in that lovely crock! (Fair disclosure, it’s on of our Clay Coyote ones).
    Unless you also sterilized the crock and lid, those little mother buggers are in there. Similar to sourdough starters, they can live for thousands of years.

    October 25, 2009 at 5:15 pm

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