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Vinegar Mother

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A woman in Cheyenne, Wyoming, says her mom used to refer to the cloudy scum that sometimes forms atop vinegar as mother. The term has been around at least 500 years, and can refer to the scum on the top or sediment on the bottom. It’s also used as a verb, and a liquid with that kind of surface can be described with the adjective mothery. A similar cloudy substance that forms atop old wine is called a wineflower. This is part of a complete episode.

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  • Vinegar mother is the combination of cellulose abd bacteria (Acetobacter aceti) which is resposible for converting alcohol to acetic acid. Hence it is generates (is the “mother” of) the vinegar). In kombucha production the mother is called a SCOBY (special combination of bacteria and yeast). The mother is necessary to the developmet of vinegar. Vinegar which becomes cloudy with mother is not spoiling, it is just active because the bacteria culture is alive and healthy. The vinegar can be strained to remove the cloudyness. There is evidence that these live cultures offer health benefits to our gut bacteria and digestive systems.

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