The Vinegar Diaries: Day 24 – Mother o’Mitchdafish (aka: MOM)


There’s nothing like sharing one’s mother.

Mitchdafish was the first of our vinegarees to conjure up a Mother of Vinegar from thin air, the air being where these acetobacter alcohol-swilling-bacteria are floating, and apparently if you’re very lucky and your karma is sutra’ed – no, that’s not right – if your karma is straight, then some of those bugs will grace your fermenting bog of bubbling apple cider with the entities required to create vinegar. To be honest, I could have crawled on my belly to the aisle stocked with vinegar at the supermarket faster than it’s taken to …erm…produce something nowhere near vinegar yet.

So that’s when Zeb Bakes snipped off part her portion of Mitchdafish’s mother, and posted her to me in a sizeable parcel with a “Fragile Glass” label slapped on it. I intend to keep the box for posting Christmas gifts. It’s a sturdy one. Recycling and all that. Well, not recycling really because then I’d be tossing it into the paper recycling bin, which I’m not going to do – I’m going to reuse it so that someone else has to make a moral decision to recycle or reuse it. Whoa. Off topic…

So, I opened the parcel and welcomed Mitchdafish’s mother to Sussex. I held her up to the light and admired this dangling bit of gelatinous matter that actually looked very similar to a jelly fish – but without the tendrils and not able to do umbrella-type-propulsion manoeuvres. Okay, so it’s nothing like a jelly fish, but it does feel like one that’s been caught on a fishing line. Not really slimy – more like a gooey, half-set jelly. And like most house-guests, Mitchdafish’s mother needed feeding after her long journey across the country in the autumn chill. She needed a good swig of scrumpy (hard cider) with an alcohol percentage of around 5-percent.

I grabbed my coat, the car keys, my ID (as if at my age anyone would suspect I was under-age), and I headed for the local shop to buy some cider. Nothing fancy, cheap as possible. I gave the beer and cider shelf a quick browse, and decided that the Kent cider at £6.00 a bottle was too rich for her blood. I bought something cheaper with a similar alcoholic content, and then realised that the check-out clerk might peg me as an aging housewife who needed a wee nip of cider in the mid-afternoon. So I decided that I should buy something more to divert attention from the bottle of cider. I grabbed a bag of Doritos.

“Havin’ a party, Ma’am?” he asked. I cringed knowing that the Doritos hadn’t done the job.

“No, I’m making vinegar,” I said. He just looked at me. He didn’t blink, he didn’t smile, he didn’t really seem alive. “Really,” I said, “vinegar. I need the scrumpy to feed the mother that just arrived in the post.”

He didn’t blink, he didn’t smile, and now I was sure that he wasn’t alive – brain dead, I reckoned.

So I left the shop without further comment – me, my scrumpy and a bag of Doritos. Let’s party.

And MOM is doing just that. She’s spreading across the apple liquid like an oil spill. BP would be proud.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. ceciliag says:

    that is brilliant.. those check out guys have to TRAIN to be that deadpan. But all this is so interesting, john is making me some more vinegar from his apple cider that is too dreadful to drink! So i will have t start yours next year.. c

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      The first batch apple stuff is doing quite well with MOM growing big day by day. Batch #2 is still in the ferment stage, and it has far more fizz to it than batch #1, so I have high hopes for it. The lemon experiment is another story — I fear that I’m creating the next generation of germ warfare in a plastic measuring jug. Perhaps when I write up the post for it, you can show your John what it’s doing, so I’ll know what to do.

  2. Joanna says:

    Hee – that was a recycled box from my end complete with clever fragile glass label, only we can’t remember what was in it. Keep the box on the move, it was a good one, double walled. Mom reminds me in texture of a cross between nasal secretions and the inside of my cheek (too much information maybe?) And as for the callow youth… Never apologise, never explain. xx

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Callow is such a wonderful word – always reminds me of mindless worker ants. And if I never apologised or never explained, my level of daily conversation would dwindle to a trickle. I always seem to be explaining myself. 😀 I think I’ll fill that box with goodies for Denmark. My mother-in-law is far more sympathetic to re-using items than my mother.

  3. Stefanie says:

    So many different vinegars! That’s a pretty entertaining story… the clerk probably just got really confused and thought you were yanking his chain or something 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Hi Stefanie! I made your pizza the other day, by the way. Delish as always. Yes, I’m quite sure that he think I was stringing him along. I bet most people don’t claim to be making vinegar when they buy boozy cider. 😉

  4. I love this post. I’m currently nurturing a red wine vinegar along. It’s a labour of love and the mother isn’t anywhere near as well developed as yours – but it is doing the work and the vinegar smells lovely. We are making ours from the little bits of wine that get left at the bottom of bottles.

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Hey, Banana! So nice to see you here. 😀 Did you buy yeast to get things moving along, or did you wait for the fermentation to happen naturally? I’d love to try making white wine vinegar. Not sure where to start making that though. Did you have any recommendations for sites or books on making vinegar from wine?

      1. I’m afraid to say my method is very dull. I just put a little wine into a recently emptied Anjou Rose wine bottle covered the top with kitchen paper fastened with am elastic band and then left it on a sunny windowsill for AGES.

        When it started to look cloudy I began adding more ends of bottles – but only a little at a time. It has been sitting there for a long time and is only a small amount but it smells wonderful.

        The hardest part is being patient and not using it up before I’ve got enough to restart another batch.

        It seems to work well even if it is slow. I think the quality of the wines I’m putting in might account for the success so far they are all very nice and drinkable so the vinegar follows on from there 🙂

        1. Misk Cooks says:

          It’s all quite amazing, isn’t it? We know that it’s scientifically possible but when we actually manage to do it, we’re quite surprised! I’m still rather astonished that my bowl of bobbing apples resulted in a bowl of cider vinegar. There’s no doubt that batch #1 is vinegar, and now batch #2 is forming a MOM because of its proximity to batch #1’s bowl. I have them both tented under the same tea towel. The house smells of a mix of cider and vinegar – strange but not unpleasant.

          And what’s that old saying? Never use wine in anything that you’re not perfectly happy drinking. Wise words, I reckon. 🙂

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