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All About Vinegar

Although you can make accidental vinegar by leaving a bottle of wine open too long, most vinegar-making is carefully managed for precise results.

| Winter 2019

vinegar-numbers 
Shutterstock/focal point

Many of you have surely accidentally left a bottle of wine or beer open. After a while, the contents of the bottle no longer taste like beer or wine, but like acid. Vinegar has formed. But what exactly has happened?

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar is a liquid made up of water and acetic acid. The acetic acid in the final product is derived by fermenting an alcoholic liquid or by diluting purified acetic acid. Depending on the type of vinegar, other ingredients, such as flavoring agents or artificial coloring, may also be present.

vinegar-swirl
Adobe Stock/Natika



The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates at least 4 percent acetic acid in table vinegar. The leftover alcohol content may not exceed 0.5 percent. Vinegar essence has an acetic acid content higher than 15 percent and is typically used for cleaning and disinfecting. Glacial acetic acid refers to highly concentrated (99 to 100 percent) acetic acid.

vinegar-drip
Adobe Stock/Jens

hc
12/14/2019 7:06:14 AM

Perhaps the authors should have consulted a microbiologist before publishing. Micrococcus aceti AKA Acetobacter acetis is NOT a fungus but a bacteria; specifically, a gram positive cocci, hence the "-coccus" in its name. Makes you wonder what other lapses are present...


Mary W
12/10/2019 7:55:42 AM

I tried vinegar by using lemons and sugar. It smelled and still looks wonderful but has a musty smell and not a lot/if any vinegary taste. From reading this article it seems I over oxidized this ferment. Can I add more sugar and repair it? Is it just useful for cleaning? Or should I throw it out? I don't see a 'mother' and I don't see any mold - even the good stuff that sometimes comes on top. I've tasted it and it is not very vinegary but not bad tasting. What has happened- too much lemon and not enough sugar? HELP







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