Too Many Cooks: Vinegar, part II

Posted on January 22, 2012


And things were going so well!

For a good while there, our vinegar was puttering away.  All signs pointing to Mother-hood. A distinctive, somewhat sweet vinegary smell.  Then-BAM!  Mold City.  Ugh.

Mold on the vinegar

ok, yeah: yuck. but... maybe still ok?

People seem to be skimming the mold off and trying again, so I’m giving it a go (as in skimming it out, adding wine, and searching for some sources that can lay out if this will be ok to eat).  The mold actually came out easily and there seems to be a slimy mother-goo in our sieve.

Mold aside, things seem good.

Mother of vinegar?

our mother..?

About that mold:  As it turns out, we probably shouldn’t have turned our basement room into the catch-all garlic-curing, beer-fermenting, cheese-hanging, vinegar-aging, and bread-rising room.  Our house tends to the very cold in all areas except the main basement room, where the furnaces run.  With the humidity and temperature hovering within a temperate and fairly steady range, this has been the go-to spot for anything that calls for “room-temperature.” (Our other rooms routinely drop to 55 overnight and the non-insulated stairwell has been at 40 for weeks)

This multi-use room might be our problem.  We know yeast, being yeast, likes to travel .. but it hadn’t occurred to me that bread/beer yeast could mess with our vinegar so spectacularly. The timeline seems convincing though. In December, we re-launched our beer brewing ventures and have been pounding out ciabattas.  The basement is often the only place to get bread to rise. And so, somewhere between the beer-brewing and bread-rising, I’m guessing that we’ve fostered quite the thriving population of yeast downstairs.

It’s probably safe to say that the real culprit here is our latest homebrew: the Disaster Stout.  I’m still hoping the Disaster Stout will work out in the end, but it’s left us with a royal mess.  I’d bet that the geyser of beer-yeast is what led to these mold blooms.

Disaster Stout

the Culprit, aka Disaster Stout.

I can’t find much talk about this all online, but Rurification mentions not making your vinegar in the same area that you’re making bread or cheese.  We do all three of those and then topped it off by setting up our homebrew carboy in the same room.  Seemingly not a great idea, but why?  Now, I’m curious about what’s going on.  Off to the sleuthing!


Posted in: kitchen