Friday, February 17, 2012

There is Wine Spoiling in my Kitchen

You heard it right. I have half of a big bottle of bubbly wine left from weekend’s Mimosas living on my kitchen counter. The four of us drinking them couldn’t polish it off. Technically, it’s not Champagne. It’s a Cava from Spain. In the spirit of my belief that I can make just about any food item at home, it’s going to become…eventually, champagne vinegar. Or something similar. So I’m letting it “turn” or, spoil.

There is certainly no work involved on my part. I covered the open top of the bottle with a bit of cheesecloth to keep out dust, or fruit flies, should there be any, and pushed it to the back of the counter where it should gradually sour. I have some vinegar mother in another bottle of homemade vinegar that, if this doesn’t sour will get added to this bottle. Mother of vinegar, according to Epicurious’s food dictionary is:

A slimy, gummy substance made up of various bacteria — specifically mycoderma aceti  — that cause fermentation in wine and cider and turn them into vinegar. Known as mère de vinaigre  in French and sometimes simply as "mother" in English, its growth is best fostered in a medium-warm environment (60°-85°F). The mother should be transferred to a new mixture or discarded once the liquid has turned to vinegar.
© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

If you live near a wine-making supply you can buy Mother of Vinegar (mycoderma aceti) if it won’t occur naturally, or you can’t get some from another vinegar maker. Mine arrived in a bottle of unfiltered organic vinegar bought at a co-op about 4 years ago. But I don’t intend to add any unless this batch doesn’t “turn” on its own. Any kind of wine will do, and it’s a good way to use up the dregs of wines you may not want to use in cooking.

So for the moment, you can see in the picture, I have two fermentation projects going, although the crème fraîche brewing in the jar next to the Cava will be ready to use by tomorrow and will go into the fridge. If you want to make the crème fraîche, I have a blog post from October last year on the process. I’ll probably have to move that bottle to another warm spot as I need the space for actual cooking. No matter how big my kitchen is, I STILL can use more room for my projects.

The recipe:

Wine Vinegar

Cover the top of a bottle leftover wine (red, white, bubbly or rosé) with some cheesecloth or thin, clean fabric that’s porous to keep out any errant little varmints and let it sit for a couple of months at room temperature. If you are more ambitious you can buy or beg some vinegar mother as starter if nothing happens.

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