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exotic vinegars

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     Apple cider vinegar is all the rage these days............ Personally I find it boring.    Braggs for example has the single advantage of having a live culture.... though I'm not so sure acetobacter can be classed as a probiotic.   However an apple cider vinegar can be made using kombucha as a starter, which will have a broad array of microbes in it, and due to the gluconobacter, it has a distinctly more complex flavor.   This presents some challenges, as alcohol is a preservative, and ultimately will kill most of the other microbes.   My approach has been to ferment for a few days using wine yeast, then innoculate using live culture kombucha. This will not yield the high acidity of a typical actobacter only fermentation, because the yeast will be suppressed, so the alcohol content will not reach the ideal level for the acetobacter to convert.  However you will have significant gluconic and glucoronic acids, which are not as "sharp" as acetic acid which is the normal acid in vinegar.  The result is a much more complex and interesting flavor.  Gluconobacter ferments sugars directly, where acetobacter likes alcohol.  


     I've done both conventional vinegar from various things such as wine and beer, and fermented concoctions specifically for vinegar.   Beer for example makes a rather interesting and nice vinegar, and I've soured many gallons of it from a local micro brewery using Braggs for a starter, so that they could use it as a condiment.  We simply took "expired" kegs and made vinegar from them.


       Making vinegar is not for folks who like instant gratification.....  it takes months,  often the longer the better, and when using kombucha as the starter, I like to allow about 6 or more months  in a warm dark place.   I currently have a "crop" of pomegranate blueberry vinegar at the finished stage.   I made it from a frozen concentrate, pitched some wine yeast, and after a bit added kombucha to sour it.    I later (months) added a calculated amount of everclear to equate to give the acetobacter something more to feed on.  The result is an interesting and flavorful, very unique vinegar.


     Don't be afraid to experiment.......... save the unfinished glasses or bottles of wine, beer, whiskey in a container, pitch some braggs, and remember that you want about 8% alcohol, so dilute if needed before adding. Keep it in a warm dark place........ sanitation is really  not an issue, the acetobacter and acetic acid will kill everything.   I've been playing with microbes including acetobacter, yeast, lactobacillus, and other not so benign critters since childhood (he '60's)...... probably the reason I have such a robust immune system!   ;-)    Currently I'm building about the fifth still I've had over the years.... this one is for essential oils........ or so I'm claiming   ;-)


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