While I was pickling some excess Hen of the Woods mushroom, I poured vinegar into a measuring cup. Peering into the cup, I noticed a gag-reflex-inducing haze floating in the clear liquid. I reached my hand in and pulled out a clam goobery slime. Vinegar Mother. I have read about Vinegar Mother. I've read recipes that if I remember correctly involve leaving a bowl of mashed up rotten fruit outside for several weeks, unleashing fruit flys and bacteria on the mash until eventually it evolves into the ultimate in nasty: a floating slimy vinegar mother. Dropping the slime into alcohol will convert the alcohol to vinegar.
It's kinda hard to see, but here's a picture inside the vinegar bottle, the vinegar mother is the cloudy murk:
I'm stoked to have found it. The timing is perfect. I have apple cider almost ready to go fermenting in the basement. And I don't know that I can stomach the above recipe for making vinegar mother, but it turns out the mother created itself all on it's own. Hopefully I can add the mother to cider and make some cider vinegar.
Quote from the Mother of vinegar Wikipedia page:
"Mother of vinegar can also form in store-bought vinegar if there is some non-fermented sugar and/or alcohol contained in the vinegar. This is more common in unpasteurized vinegar. While not appetizing in appearance, mother of vinegar is completely harmless and the surrounding vinegar does not have to be discarded because of it. It can be filtered out using a coffee filter, used to start a bottle of vinegar, or simply ignored."