Monday, July 22, 2013

Vinegar -- Home-made

Some of you long time readers might remember that in the name of self sufficiency I started talking my good little Catholic friend into buying vodka for me. Something a good little Mormon girl can't be seen buying or she'll be the talk of the church. I needed vodka to make home-made vanilla so I was desperate. I'd learned that the vanilla I'd been getting from Mexico is usually bottled in unsafe jars and besides I didn't have a supply any more anyway.

I'll never go back to store bought vanilla again since creating my own. And since I've been on this self-sufficiency kick heavily for the past four or five years, most people who know me at all wouldn't bat an eye to see me walk into a liquor store and come out with a bottle. They'd just wonder what I was up to now. That is if it wasn't too often.

And so every two years or more I go into the liquor store and ask the clerk, "I want four cups of vodka to make vanilla and it has to be triple distilled. Please help me find the cheapest brand." If you ask for help you can get out of there a whole lot quicker and not be seen browsing down the isle. Something definitely no good little Mormon girl would do. 

So if you see a large bottle of vodka tucked in this girl's pantry, you will know why it's there. Does it tempt me? No, I have to wait three months for each batch of vanilla to age enough  so that when I open the lid, it doesn't put me into a fit of coughing. Never, ever, even as a teenager, have I ever been tempted to try alcohol. It really smells bad to me.

So I have figured that one bottle every two, three years for vanilla still keeps me in the good little girl category. Then recently I've found out all kinds of awesome uses for vinegar. I'm putting a little in most of my loads of laundry and I'm going to someday take the plunge and start using it as shampoo instead of the store brands. It has tons of uses. It is a basic as far as self sufficiency survival. But it isn't made like I thought it was made.

A bit of research revealed that you can use fruits, berries, apples, peaches, all kinds of fruits to make vinegar. My fruit trees are doing pretty good so far. I just have apple and plum. Not great big trees but it would be a start to begin from. I have some grapes and there is plenty of jelly and some juice canned so they could be freed up for vinegar, if they do okay. I just juiced a little over 3/4ths a gallon of red currants, and I'm thinking I can freeze all this and make vinegar. They even said some frozen fruit juice brands can be used to make vinegar if they don't contain chemicals. Then I discovered the bomb shell, Vinegar - ALL vinegar first starts out as alcohol. 

Surely this can't be so, I called a winery place from the Internet who sells do it yourself products for making beer, wine, and yes, vinegar mothers (the culture you make vinegar from/ kind of like sourdough). The brewery/winery guy on the phone affirmed my fears. There is no other method to make vinegar. Yes, this little Mormon girl was either going to have to go and buy, lots and lots of unchemicalized booze or she was going to have to make it herself if I wanted vinegar home-made.

I tossed back and forth the pros and cons. Only for a few seconds though because I'm going to need lots and lots of alcohol because one day I'm going start using vinegar to wash my hair. Lots because I use it in my laundry as a deodorant. Lots because I'm going to start to clean with it more. And of course lots because you use it in canning pickles and things.

So there is no way I can afford to buy all that booze let alone this Mormon girl be seen going in and out, and in and out of a liquor store. I'm just going to have to make my own alcohol.  

Won't have a clue if it is any good or not because I won't be tasting it. I'm sure there are lots of people that would volunteer but then I'd loose my Mormon girl status. We're not supposed to encourage others to drink either.

So I took a deep breathe and told the guy on the phone, who by now is thinking he's talking to an idiot, that he was the expert and please load me up with what I needed to make alcohol and convert it to vinegar. In his defense I did say, " I need that thingy that allows the carbon dioxide to escape and doesn't allow the oxygen in." I'd looked at a cazillion sites with a "no this can't be" attitude and several supply sites which all leaned heavily toward making beer and wine which further confused me. I didn't want to set up a distillery, I just wanted to make vinegar.

So for reasons I'm not sure of, he is sending champagne yeast. He says that is for the berries and grapes. Why not wine yeast? Then he is sending cider yeast which he said if used on the berries and grapes would alter the flavor to a more apple taste. Don't know that that is bad since I'm not tasting it but he's the expert and said I didn't, so I'm following his lead. Then he loaded me up with mother's for hard apple cider and wine. Confused since I'm using champagne but maybe that will clear up once I get further into the project.

Then of course he added the thingy magig that keeps out the oxygen while letting gasses escape. He asked what kind of bottle I was using to make wine and hard cider and I said some old apple cider glass jugs. He thought they might have one around there to guage the plug needed so I guess I'm set. Set that is after I've done a great deal more research. What I know about alcohol I've learned from watching M.A.S.H. and Hockeye's still in his tent. He used underwear or old socks as a filter. Let's just say I'm not that desperate and don't plan on setting up a distillery any time soon. 

If my Grandpa Jones were alive,who was a good little Baptist boy, he could teach me for he made dandelion wine among others. Mom tells a story about drinking dandelion wine out of the cups that came back to the kitchen at her sister's wedding. She and her twin brother were quite young. Needless to say they got drunk. Can you use dandelion wine for making vinegar? Would I use the champagne yeast or the hard apple cider yeast? I'm so confused. LOL

One good thing though is that the yeast when used becomes a culture that can be kept going. Think it would matter if it was used in currant wine and then some of that start was used to make grape wine? And if the mother is used in a currant vinegar, is it okay to then use part of the mother created to put in a grape vinegar? It is something like sourdough I guess and I'm learning about that too. In fact, I have a awesome new recipe for you but that will have to be later this week. But will sourdough learning help me with mother learning? How ever did the pioneers keep these cultures all going? I'm begining to think they were pretty smart.

My head is just a spinning in all directions on this project. What do I use with what and how do I keep these cultures going through the year?  What all can I use to fuel them? I've got to say my depression, that had me in its clenches, is definitely lifting. My thyroid and adrenals are still screaming but I'm much happier. You can't be depressed and on an exciting adventure too.

Hmmmm..... if alcohol takes two to three weeks to make and vinegar about three months, then how much juice do I need to freeze to keep vinegar brewing all year? And since the stuff you make is quite stout, just how much will I end up after it is watered down? Yes, indeed this will be quite an adventure.

Who know what directions I'll take with this. My sister took an herbal medicine class and alcohol for tintcures was a big part of it. Cleansing wounds would be another great use for the alcohol in a self-sufficiency situation. I'm sure I'll find many more uses before  this project goes very far.

Oh the things I'll do in the name of self-sufficiency.

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