Wednesday, 3 January 2007

growing mold

So, my parents have a store of old wine. Stuff that's 15-20 years old and was meant to be drunk at around 8 years old. They're trying to fix the problem, one bottle at a time. (and no, I doubt you'd get much on ebay for it - not known brands, boutique wineries mostly). Some bottles are still drinkable, but past it's best, others taste too vinegary.

So of course, being me, I want to make them into proper vingear so I can cook with them or make more sekanjamin. I've browsed the net on making vinegar, and stefan's florilegium was most helpful. Most of the advice on making vinegar is for people starting with fruit. Sure cheap young wine has lots of preservatives that hinder vinegar growth, but our old wine should be a special case - it never had much more sulfur preservative than required (I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to it, but I don't have problems with the stuff my parents get) and the levels of preservatives must be pretty low by now. The tannins were high, but now most of them have solidified out.

Anyway, I concluded that it was best to just put my sour wine in a open topped jar and wait.
Nothing was happening for 2 weeks until I thwarted my mum's natural habbit to keep the top covered from insects.

Next white spots grew. They all appear to have the same shape and habbit - white coloured as a baby, then developing a dusky sage green colour with white edges. The edges are rippled up and down in a pattern shown by all the bacteria thingmys. Here's a photo (click for closeup) taken without my flash, so the colours are a bit darker than I see them. (with the flash I either get too much reflection or can't get this close).

Google image searching "mother of vinegar" brings up images of redish clear skins. And I've finally found a site of someone else who makes vinegar from old wine. There's a good photo of his mother of vinegar on the site and it looks nothing like what I have. It also has annother person's Q&A on vinegar making, where it says about growing her own mother of vinegar:"but shortly thereafter light gray-blue-green mold-looking stuff formed on the top". She skimmed it off several times and after a couple more months got her own mother of vinegar.

So, yay I've grown mold. It's been skimmed off twice now (it regrew quite quickly, and more green), and I'm not sure I'll be brave enough to drink the end result of anything that had that mold in it. But rather than tip the wine out, I'm going to leave it and see if a mother of vinegar forms without a starter culture. (even if i'm not brave enough to drink it).

Meanwhile, if anyone has/knows how to get a mother of vinegar (or homemade wine gone to vinegar, or sees unpasturised vinegar in the shops), please let me know.


Lynlee BSc microbiology said...

Be really careful about green mould. Aspergillis is one of the most common household food moulds and produces highly carcenogenic toxin which moves out into the food quickly. To know for sure if it is Aspergillis or Penicillin you need to let it develop black spores, lay clear sticky tape over it and look at it under a microscope with a good book on fungal identification.
If in doubt, throw it out. We hope to live long enough to get cancer, in th 11th C, most didn't get the chance cause other things got them first.

Teffania said...

The mold was indeed thrown out, and the wine it was in too. I don't dice with my health that much.

I did seem to have grown a mother of vinegar underneath the mold, largely on the base of the vessel, but it does seem to grow much more slowly than the mold, so I haven't attempted to grow native mother of vinegar again on the assumption that I'll always get mold first. I'm still keeping my eyees open for a source of mother of vinegar though whether it be somewhere that sells some or an old bottle of unpasturised vinegar that has started growing mother of vinegar.