My friend Donna Morris lives in Paris; she eats a lot of salad with vinaigrette dressing. So she’s started making her own vinegar. I watched her last night as she strained her latest batch of red wine vinegar and bottled it.
Donna fished out the “mother of vinegar,” something I knew nothing about. It’s akin, I guess, to sour dough starter. She got hers from her former mother-in-law in Switzerland. It’s a round fleshy thing, looking a bit like liver,
that stays in the vinegar crock. Donna went down to Emmaus, something like a Goodwill store in the states, and searched out an old pottery crock. She tossed in the mother and added a bottle of red wine.
She dumps any leftover wine into the crock as well, and a few months later, she has vinegar. Last year she gave homemade vinegar to friends as gifts.
Weirdly, the mother of vinegar grows over the years. Donna says she started with a small piece, but now has two slabs of it – and she’s been passing along pieces of her mother of vinegar to other people.
I, who am bereft of homemaking skills, really admire those who can create something like homemade vinegar and make it look so easy. Years ago my former mother-in-law gave me a cutting from a beefsteak begonia, a very special plant that had been handed on from woman to woman for years. “Take good care of it,” she cautioned me. It was dry and dead within a year.