Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Meet The Vinegar Mother

No, this post is not a Christmas attack on my relatives. Read on to find out.

Well it may have been the shortest day, but we seem to have got a lot done.
I've been taking advantage of the ridiculously mild weather to tidy up the veg patch. The main job has been to make a start on edging the beds - the grass encroaches more and more every year, but I'm determined to have everything looking spick and span by early spring. This is a big job though, so after each bit I do a quick other job - pulling up old vegetation, removing posts and wires, weeding, turning compost.
This way, lots gets done and I don't really notice how hard I'm working.
A nice crisp edge is very satisfying... but a lot of work to maintain

And when I'd finally put the chickens to bed and sat down to relax, what better thing to do than make the first slice into the Solstice cake.
It was delicious and will definitely become a tradition at Swallow Farm.

Meanwhile, in the house, Sue has been racking off the cider vinegar. This is the first time she has made this properly (though we have let cider turn to vinegar before). A couple of months ago Sue organised an Apple Day for the Smallholders Club. A big part of this was cider making and Sue brought home some of the apple pulp. Usually this would be a treat for the chickens or pigs, but this time Sue had other ideas. She covered it with water and left it in three large plastic boxes, covered with muslin to keep the fruit flies out.
After a while the entrance hallway was filled with a distinctive vinegary aroma. The developing vinegar grew a layer of white mould on top. This is supposed to happen. We were supposed to leave it there until March, but my winter squashes kept going mouldy until I figured that the fermenting vinegar might not be helping the situation.

So today Sue racked off the vinegar into demijohns. She filled almost nine! She has added a dollop of the mother of vinegar back in - this is that slimy white layer of mould! It is actually a form of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria. It's good for you. Honestly.

The 'Mother of Vinegar'

She has also added some apple pulp back in. The demijohns are not sealed, just covered, but they have moved to a different room.
Come March we should have 8 and a half gallons of very authentic apple cider vinegar.

And now the chickens can have the vinegary apple pulp mix. They love it and it's a very good natural wormer. It's also a bit of an all round tonic for them, which is just what they need on the shortest day.

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