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  • 3 measures beer or ale (5.5 to 7 alcohol)
  • 1 measure vinegar culture with active bacteria

Use sanitized glass, enamel, stainless steel or stoneware containers less than two-thirds full. Cover the container with a cloth or stopper it with cotton to keep insects out, while allowing air to freely reach the stock. Store the mixture in a dark place. Temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees are ideal. Low or fluctuating temperatures slow the process. At 75 to 85 degrees F, it will take 6 to 8 weeks for conversion. At 85 to 90 degrees F, it can take 4 to 6 weeks for conversion. Temperatures over 95 degrees F slow conversion; above 140 degrees F, the bacteria die. An acetic film called "mother" will form. This smooth, leathery, grayish film becomes quite thick and heavy. It should not be disturbed. It often becomes heavy enough to fall and is succeeded by another formation. If the mother falls, remove and discard it. An acid test will indicate when all of the alcohol is converted to vinegar. Part of the vinegar may be withdrawn and pasteurized. The remaining unpasteurized vinegar may be used as a culture to start another batch. Living bacteria are in the liquid. A piece of the mother is not necessary to start a new batch. Add beer to the culture every 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the temperature maintained and when most of the alcohol is converted to vinegar. Adding more alcohol to the culture keeps it alive, prevents spoilage and increases the quality of vinegar. If unpasteurized vinegar is exposed to oxygen without alcohol present, bacteria can convert the vinegar to carbon dioxide and water.

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