Questions about the creation and maintenance of 'wild' ACV

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Sutremaine, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. Sutremaine

    Sutremaine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By 'wild' ACV, I mean old rainwater and apple cores left in a warmish darkish place. No mother, no vinegar, no cider. It's been a week and a half and the mixture smells like spilt booze on a hot day and has yellowish bubbles sitting under the surface, so I think it's working. Is it working? The various how-tos I've read online suggest it takes a lot longer than that. I don't fancy putting any of that sludge in my mouth.

    I used the rainwater out of the barrel for two reasons. One, tapwater gets a particular nauseating funk after a while sitting. Anything that's going to grow in the rainwater will have done so by now. Two, I figured the rainwater would contain a nice charge of the relevant micro-organisms.

    As for maintenance -- once it's vinegar, can I pull out what I need and keep it topped up with apples and occasional other fruit, or does it need to be fed alcohol?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2014
  2. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I was intrigued reading of your experiment. My vinegar experience is limited, but I've read a bit about it. I understand there is essentially a two-part fermentation. First the sugars in the substrate are turned into alchohol by yeasts mainly, and in the second stage the alcohol is converted (by different bacteria, but mainly the kind that produce acetic acid) into vinegar (basically acetic acid). If it smells like booze though, that sounds promising, because it could indicate the first stage is progressing well. The rainwater sounds good (you don't want chlorine, which kills stuff). But apple cores? I would think that you would want a stronger sugar solution than that, no? I would think that juicing the apple cores to make the sugars more available and/or just adding some cane sugar to the mix would create more food and thus a more selective environment for the yeasts, which in turn makes more food for the bacteria, which in turn means stronger, purer, more useful vinegar. Or so I'd think...

    Have you read any of Sandor Katz's books or other works? He writes a lot about "wild fermentation" processes, and he's quite the guru on this stuff.
     
  3. Quailsong

    Quailsong Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Save for rainwater, I do the same for ACV. I don't like using it much though, it does smell up like how you described it & and I like to keep mine in the kitchen. Yuck. It does take a long time, by modern definition. It's done when it doesn't smell nor taste like alcohol.

    I've never topped mine up though, but rather started a new batch every time. Funny that, I do that very thing with Fermented Feed - I should probably be doing it with ACV as well.
     
  4. Sutremaine

    Sutremaine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nah, I just banged the ingredients together to see what happened. I've done the same with flour and water in the past, but wasn't able to maintain it. I could have tried again, but no matter the yeast source my loaves of bread were always terrible. So I gave up on that.

    Some more sugar would be good, yes. Would molasses sugar be fine, or would the non-sugar portions encourage unwanted growth? The apple cores are pretty small, btw -- I cut the apples into eighths and leave as little flesh on the waste portion as possible. Are you thinking of the sort of apple core that comes up on a Google search, or the apple fingers you get from a mechanical corer? I'm much more thorough than that. :)

    My proto-ACV is in the bathroom at the moment. The heating's not on yet, and the bathroom has a space heater for the cold mornings. There isn't that much smell, possibly because it's at ground level.

    Backslopping would probably do for ACV what it's doing for the fermented feed.
     
  5. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    To create ACV or any kind of ruined hooch you'll first like poster 2 says have to produce hooch. Red Wine Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar, Rice Wine Vinegar, Malt (beer) Vinegar, Apple Cider (wine) Vinegar, along with White Distilled (white lightning) Vinegar are the 6 major types of Vinegar. Anyone familiar with brewing beer or wine knows to starve their fermentation of air (oxygen) to keep their homemade wine from turning into vinegar.

    Once all the sugars have been consumed by a specific yeast in the absence of Oxygen and turned into Ethel Alcohol it is then time to introduce a specific type of Acidic Bacteria and add Oxygen to the brew. With the correct growing conditions a 15% Ethel Alcohol wine product can be converted into 15% Acidic Acid or vinegar in about 24 hours. The 15% vinegar is then diluted or cut with distilled water to reach a 5% acid content. With White Distilled Vinegar (white distilled or taseless Alcohol) is used for the medium instead of wine.

    Natural Vinegars stronger than 15% are basically impossible because the yeast that produce Ethel Alcohol along with the Bacteria that produce acidic acid are both killed by a 15% concentration of their own specific bodily wastes, Ethel Alcohol (hooch) and Acidic Acid (vinegar) respectively.

    I have no idea what you have growing in your bathroom but my recommendation is "Don't turn your back on it!" [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2014
  6. Sutremaine

    Sutremaine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have no idea either, but I'm going to top it up with sugar and see what happens.
     
  7. Sutremaine

    Sutremaine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, update on the proto-ACV. There's a white squishy scum formed on top, which would seem to be the start of the mother. I think it's time to strain it into some glass jars, before it eats through another layer of food bag.
     
  8. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How old is your project? If its two weeks old, that is probably too soon for the vinegar mother to be forming, it's probably just bubbles from the alcohol formation.

    I've made ACV twice now, both times from fresh pressed cider. A wild fermentation (one without any sort of starter) will take 3-6 months, from what I've read. I did an open an open air method. Mine took about 2-3 months and the resulting vinegar was rather weak. This time I have 3 batches going, all with airlocks to make a more pure hooch first, then will add some raw ACV when I remove the airlock and cover with cheesecloth. I'm hoping it will turn out a stronger vinegar.

    It's best not to disturb the container when the vinegar mother has formed...moving or bumping the container will cause the mother to sink and die and you will have to wait for a new one to form, usually a few days.

    As for the conditions @chickengeorgeto mentioned to convert alcohol to vinegar in 24 hours, id be curious what those conditions are, that's news to me.
     
  9. glib

    glib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I make my own ACV. It is best done with apple drops, and virtually any orchards will give you some for very little (ask for "deer bait" apples). You can mix local crab apples for extra flavor, table apples make a very thin vinegar. You can crush them in a meat grinder (just cut off large rotting spots, but ignore worm holes and other blemishes) with the coarsest setting so you don't break many seeds and put them in a bucket (for human consumption, it is always best to ferment in glass). add water just to cover, and cover with a piece of paper towel and a rubber band to keep out flies. 60F is a good temperature to ferment at, plus or minus 10F. You can filter the vinegar, then press the ground apples after they have softened to extract the last drops, maybe 15 days to a month after. You can feed the vinegary apple pomace to the birds, or use it as starter for your fermentation. It is stable and if you have a bucket it will last a long time if the pomace is immersed and covered with something anti-flies. You can use small fractions of other fruits (I use my own pears, which are not very good. The chicken can only eat so many anyway), but no more than 10-20% because it is apples that produce most of the acidity.

    Now I have a few mothers, very little time in the last 6 months, I just buy untreated apple juice (a little expensive, but it is for us) to make household vinegar, plus I use the mothers for other tasks when needed and/or give to friends. With established mothers, the vinegar is good in less than a month, though it will take longer (3 months or so) if you want it to be perfectly clear. Our whole family is committed to intaking a bit of ferment every day, it is not just the chickens who benefit. I take about a quart per month, mostly in salads but also in drinking water.

    If you place commercial apple juice in your fermenter the mother will die immediately due to the preservatives. Cider mills will not let you bring your bag of apples to press, they are afraid of contamination, so you have to do it yourself. And colder areas, such as the Midwest here, have better bacteria and make better vinegar than warm areas (on average, your batch may stil turn very good in the South East). Next year if I have time I want to try cooking the apples, straining them through the tomato strainer, then add mother and water. Other than that, it is a really very easy process.
     
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  10. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @glib - Thanks so much for sharing your experience with making ACV, very good to know. Yes, I've heard that having a large mother can dramatically speed up the process.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014

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