Feed your Vinegar
Feed your vinegar monthly using the ratio of 2 parts wine to 1 part filtered/bottled water.
The mother loves warmer temperatures with optimum conversion happening between 70° - 80°. Low or fluctuating temperatures will slow the process. Higher temperatures 85° to 90° will hasten conversion. Temperatures over 95° actually slow the conversion – and anything above 140° will cause the bacteria to die.
Keep your barrel approximately 80-90% filled and in an open area that provides air movement – we’ve had some great stories of mold occurring when barrels were kept in very warm areas without adequate circulation.
If you live in an arid area, or are noticing excessive evaporation, use the included Cork to partially lay over the top of the cheesecloth covering the hole of the barrel while still allowing for ample air/oxygen.
Removing the Mother
Mothers will drop to the bottom and become inactive – as your vinegar is ‘live’, a new one will form on top. Remove the inactive mothers every six months or so.
OK … who spilled the fingernail polish remover?
One day you might walk by your vinegar barrel and think something must have gone terribly wrong – your “vinegar” smells like fingernail polish remover. Nothing’s gone wrong … it’s just one of the stages that the vinegar goes through in its conversion from wine to vinegar.
Too Robust or Acidic to ’your tastebuds’
Add a little water to create a more pleasing flavor. Keep in mind that the flavor will mellow somewhat when it is aged.
Vinegar has a sharp bite when first made (but still can be used for salad dressings or cooking). It becomes mellower when aged. Just like wine, the esters and ethers mature during aging and many of its finer qualities will emerge.
Bottling your Barrel-Aged Vinegar
If desired, your vinegar may be bottled. (Do not deplete your barrel - leave approximately 25% of your vinegar in it as this will be the base for your next batch.) Make sure your bottles are thoroughly clean and free of any soapy residue. Strain the vinegar through fine-grade cheesecloth into the very clean bottles. Fill the bottle as full as possible (to exclude oxygen from the vinegar) and cap or cork it tightly. The vinegar will continue mellowing in the bottle. Store the bottles away from light and extremes of heat or cold.
Share your Mother
In a small, clean jar add 1 cup of live vinegar along with a 2”-3” piece/chunk of mother. Give to friends and family so they may start their own family tradition of making fine wine vinegars.
We love to hear from you – for more information or answers to questions, please either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voice mail at 888-926-2555 – we will return your call.