Apple Cider Vinegar {making a mother}

What is that?!

  A mother. A mother, as Wikipedia says ” is a substance composed of a form of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that develops on fermenting alcoholic liquids, which turns alcohol into acetic acid with the help of oxygen from the air. It is added to wine, cider, or other alcoholic liquids to produce vinegar.”

I originally made my mother  from mixing a bottle of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar with the mother with an equal amount of apple juice. After sitting for a while it began to form a mother on top. I  let the mother grow a bit then took that mother and a small amount of the vinegar, that was made while the mother was growing, and started another batch with slightly more apple juice than the previous 1-1 ratio. And we’ve been up and running ever since.

The resulting vinegar tastes great- use as you would use store brought apple cider vinegar. It takes less than 5 minutes to make. I make about 2-3 batches a year- making about a half gallon at a time. Other than the initial cost of the bottle of Braggs vinegar with the mother my only cost is the apple juice.  I cook and clean with the vinegar but I do not do my canning with it. In order to can with homemade vinegar it is important to get a hydrometer (anywhere with homebrew supplies should carry one) in order to insure the vinegar is acidic enough..

So on to the mothers: their appearance, behavior and usage.

Some photos.

Yeah the mothers look weird, gross even. They feel firm and not that slippery really. The mother always forms at the top of the container in a thin layer that will gradually thicken. If disturbed it may fall to the bottom and a new one will start to form on top.

Here are two mothers. They were in the bottom of the jar in the top photo.

They are quite thick. This is the thickest I’ve had them get so far.

Some times when you have a second mother start in the same contain they might meld together, eventually forming one large mother.

They start out thin and filmy-like these below. These formed over several months in the jar of ACV that I was using. So if you manage to damage your mother you can always restart with the ACV you have made.

I added it into the new batch: a half gallon jar full of apple juice.

Place the mother on top as best you can. If it falls to the bottom don’t worry. You can also add some ACV. This would be more important for really large batches to ensure the apple juice fermentation isn’t too much for the small amount of mother to process in a reasonable time frame. If for some reason you get mold growing throw it all away and start again as the mold spores spread throughout the contents and will regrow making future batches bad.

I initially cover the jar with a piece of fabric, held on with the canning lid rim, to allow the fermenting gases to escape. After the initial period I will switch to a regular cap. I write the date on with sharpie marker- it scrubs off easily, especially with a little baking soda.

Once the mother is in there you may see things like this floating:

or bits, like these in the below photo, settled on the bottom

They are normal and harmless so don’t worry about them. If you want you can filter the finished ACV. One way would be like this: through a coffee filter.

There’s not much but it did get those floaty bits.

Here is the filtered ACV. It’s the last from the a batch made about 6 months ago.

You can have as many batches (of any size) going as you like. As you can see the mothers are easily made and easily multiply. When I store a mother I put it in a small jar covered with ACV, rotate every few months. Why store a mother? I do in case I want to start another batch while the first is still aging and so if I do lose a mother (hey neglect and mistakes happen) I can just keep going on as usual.

          Here are left to right, a mother in storage, filtered ready to use ACV, and a new batch just started. I took these photos in the light so they would be clearer however ACV in all forms should be stored in a cool dark place – like a cabinet.

So that’s how to start a mother and use it to produce a never ending supply of apple cider vinegar.

mossy_stone

For another look at ACV see this post: ACV- Appearances Vary!

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205 thoughts on “Apple Cider Vinegar {making a mother}

  1. Ok…. I had NO IDEA and admit I had to read the post twice to grasp it! lol

    Will have to keep this on my “interesting, do I want to try?” list for the future. Thank you for sharing and keeping us all full of new knowledge.

  2. Your post was a bit confusing. You said you orginally made your mother by adding apple cider vinegar to the mother with some apple juice and the mother began to form on top…..did the mother form from just the apple juice and vinegar, or did you have a mother to start with??

    • The mother (I made and now use) formed from the apple juice and apple cider vinegar- however The ACV must contain “the mother”. Bragg’s is the only brand I’ve seen that has the mother. I hope that clears up any confusion.
      mossy_stone

      • I make Kombucha and the mother will form on the top of the liquid if you keep a cloth fastened on top with a rubber band leaving it in a warm dark place for around a week or so. So if we take a jar of bragges vinegar and put a cloth fastened with rubber band so no fruit flies get in. It needs the filtered air. I think you will get your mother growing naturally.

  3. WOW, I didnt know I could make ACV with a mother. I make Kombucha with a mother, green tea and sugar in a large jar. I make a lot and keep a huge jar with a tap in the fridge for drinking. I also keep a few mason jars of kombucha( with tight lids) in the cabinet. They grow new mothers where as the refridgerated kombucha tea does not. I wonder if I could use an already formed kombucha mother and apple juice to make the ACV??? I’m going to try it!! We use a boat load of ACV…I’m paying about $20.00 a gallon for Braggs ACV….I love saving money by living the “from scratch “life! Thanks for the info and idea.

    • From what I’ve read thus far a Kombucha mother also produces acetic acid (same as the mother of vinegar) and also contains yeasts -which wouldn’t be found in vinegar. So I think it would probably depend on taste. I’d love to know the results.

      • I’ve made my own cleaning concentrate from Orange peels and vinegar. Lovely stuff. The last time I made it I had many lemons and few oranges. To my surprise this batch formed a mother. I want certain that’s what it was, wondering if it was wax that had coated the lemons (not organic). I removed the suspected mother and a new one formed. That new mother, removed and placed in a container with sugar and water, produced fermentation and continued to grow, so definitely a mother/scoby. Since lemons are said to be high in malic acid might this lemon mother be used to produce ACV?

    • Hello, I just joined this site, where you write that you’d like to try making ACV with apple cider and Kombucha mother. Did you try it yet, and if you did, did it work? I am interested in learning how to make healthy fermented foods, and actually, side note, I would like to learn about wild edible mushroom hunting in PA, MD, and WV area, and then dry them, rehydrate them with apple cider vinegar and wet grey seasalt solution. The vinegar is something I’ve never tried, but I’m taking notes on everything that I typically buy in the store so I can start making these things myself. I am forming a list of recipes, and your mention of Kombucha triggered me to write that one down. Combing these things with certain mushrooms (not ‘button ones) apparently boosts stem cell growth in the human body rapidly due to the essential glyconutrient content in them. and the ph assistance of the vinegar supports the repair they facilitate. The more super foods I can combine into one place, the better, while simplifying, that is the trick.

      • I haven’t tried ACV mother yet. But I have successfully made Kombucha mother. The only failure was that I forgot to put a thick cloth cover on top, so it attracted a lot ov fruit flies, & as I was away for a week as the thing matures, they were able to lay eggs that hatched. Needless to say, I discarded the lot & started afresh. I used to make Kombucha about 25 yrs ago, in a plastic bin with a regular cover, & that worked very well. I’m going to do both now.

        • I wish you good luck as cultures,at times, can be finicky things. Fruit flies do have a way of working their way in! Kombucha and ACV are very similar in brewing methods.

  4. This sounds interesting. I have lots of questions. Lots. But I need to sit down and read through again to let it sink in. I am bookmarking this! Would you mind also sharing on Freaky Friday this week? I’d love for others to see this as well. I am all about making your own EVERYTHING to become less dependent on buying from the stores!

    • I’d love to produce my own everything too! And this is one easy way to step that much closer. And if you use vinegar for cleaning- I don’t think it can get much cheaper than that.
      Let me know if I can try to answer any questions.
      I’d love to share on Freaky Friday. Thanks so much for the invite.
      mossy_stone

      • How do you figure using home made ACV for cleaning is cheap when a gallon of white vinegar is $1.50. apple juice is pretty pricey and i would think the resulting acv would have a bit of residual sugar. Id rather use the distilled for cleaning. Dont get me wrong i make acv constatnly for culinary uses…

        • Compared to the majority of natural cleaners you’d buy from your local co-op/natural foods store homemade ACV is cheap. Although I think “cheap” is one of those relative situation words. Of course how much a gallon of ACV costs to make depends on what you spend. You can choose to spend a lot on an expensive bottle (and perhaps if you are solely consuming your ACV you might want a better quality than walmart’s clear value brand) or you can buy the cheapest apple juice you can find perhaps with a discount and make a bunch just for cleaning. It’s also on option to use apples from the tree in your backyard or your scraps from your eating apples and make it for free. Whether homemade ACV is the absolute cheapest and best cleaning solution for you I can’t say, by all means use what ever you’d like- white vinegar, bleach, cleaning sprays natural or otherwise, however ACV is an option and one you can produce yourself and I think that counts for something.

        • Can’t wait to do this myself. White vinegar is cheaper than ACV but we can not use it do to the fact it has corn in it. My son has a corn allergy so regular vinegar will not work for us. This is also similiar to the way we make Kefir water and Kefir milk. Except it is the Kefir “grains” that create the fermentation.

  5. Very interesting! Do you just use regular apple juice, or does it need to be raw?

    I jut started making kombucha tea which looks like it’s made in much the same way.

    How long do you ferment the vinegar?

    • Elise I have the exact same 2 questions – raw apple juice? can i use cider? how long to ferment?

      Thanks for this wonderful post!!! Can’t wait to make my own!

      • I just use regular apple juice. I’ve done a few experiments along the way trying different things like cider but I can’t remember how if it was a success or not.
        I let it ferment for at least a few months. It shouldn’t smell like alcohol but a nice strong apple-y vinegar smell. The best way is to taste a little and if it’s not strong enough leave it longer. Longer is better but how old all depends on how fast I use it up.

        • Please help, I have used real apple juice and added the “mother” from a batch made of Braggs, I am not sure whether I should stir this lot, there is a thick layer of foam on the top and want to know if I should leave it be, or skim off or stir?

          • You could just leave it or maybe give it a little stir so it’s not so foamy. The foam should subside on it’s own but it does help to keep the jar sides clean (to prevent mold). Overall you don’t want to keep stirring or the mother won’t form on top.

    • It is very similar to kombucha.
      I just use regular apple juice. I’ve done a few experiments along the way trying different things like cider but I can’t remember how if it was a success or not.
      I let it ferment for at least a few months. It shouldn’t smell like alcohol but a nice strong apple-y vinegar smell. The best way is to taste a little and if it’s not strong enough leave it longer. Longer is better but how old all depends on how fast I use it up.

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    • I just use regular apple juice. I’ve done a few experiments along the way trying different things like cider but I can’t remember how if it was a success or not.
      I let it ferment for at least a few months. It shouldn’t smell like alcohol but a nice strong apple-y vinegar smell. The best way is to taste a little and if it’s not strong enough leave it longer. Longer is better but how old all depends on how fast I use it up

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    • I just re-read it, and found the ratio. So just wondering about the apple juice brand.

      And you say: “I cover initially with a piece of fabric held on with the canning lid rim to allow the fermenting gases to escape. After the initial period I will switch to a regular cap.” How long is the initial period?

      • Whatever brand of apple juice you want. The initial period varies but essentially it’s as long as the apple juice is still more of an fermenting alcohol than vinegar, You can put a regular lid on sooner but there’ll be gas build up so be sure to burp the jar (or switch back to cloth until it stops).

  9. I don’t understand were to get the mother. It looks like you need one to get this started. Did I misunderstand your directions. I would really like to do this. Thanks.

      • Hi. You might wish to explain for folks that the “mother” in Bragg’s (at least in the jars I have) is just thin strands of mother, and not the big thick mother paddy that you’re making for your next batches as you show in your pictures. The bottles of Bragg’s don’t have a big thick mother pad formed for whatever reason (they bottled it too soon or whatever). So, that’s why you mixed the Bragg’s with apple juice (or cider), to make a thick mother for your subsequent batches.

        • Thank you Linda! for explaining about the Braggs. I thought there was something wrong with the bottles in my local store so I didn’t buy any! Now I can start making my own (and know it’s going to turn out ok). Hopefully.

        • Thanks Linda. Yes the mother in Bragg’s will look more like sediment/floaty-ies. If you strain your ACV but leave it sitting over time your ACV will form these too before forming another mother on top.

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  14. Does a mother ever go bad? I have some red wine vinegar that formed a mother in the bottom until eventually, it was all that was left. Very thick, looked like a piece of liver in a bottle. I still have it. There is no mold. Could I use that?

    • There are issues like mold or fruit fly infestations to look out for but generally a mother doesn’t go bad. You could try use the mother. It’s more hit or miss whether typical store brought vinegar will form a mother on it’s own.

      • This might be stupid but how do you tell whats the mold and whats the mother. I’ve seen what I think is mold form in juice in the fridge before, but it was white and cloudy and looks kinda like the pictures of the mother. So now I’m not sure if it was mold or the mother and if i will be able tell the difference between the two.

  15. Ok, This was really interesting. I had no idea how to do this. To be honest, I still don’t. Have to go back and read again. Will defenately try this. I also love to create all from scratch. Anything I can do on my own , i love. Going back to basics.
    Thank you again.
    Gisela

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  18. I made about 3 1/2 gallons of ACV last fall when processing several bushels of apples. I placed the cores in a jar, covered it with water, a loose-fitting lid, and an old kitchen towel. I just left it on the kitchen counter for about 8 weeks because the kitchen was warm. When I took out the cores and saw the “mother,” I did not realize at all what it was! How much of that wonderful “mother” I threw out!! But now from your post I know I can buy a jug of apple juice and just let keep it going – forever!! This is so exciting. I like the flavor of my ACV much more than the Braggs I had used before. I got my original idea from the Little House on the Prairie Cookbook, then researched it on the web. I have not been keeping it in a dark place, so I’ll have to do that now. I do keep a pretty apron draped around it though. Thank you for the information you shared. People thought I was crazy for wanting to make my own!

    • That’s a great way to do it! I’m going to have to try it- we have tons of apple cores around here and I can get apples free.
      I bet your apron is serving as as a dark space. I haven’t any issues from letting sit on the counter a short bit but I have heard that dark is better.

  19. I’m curious, what sort of things or conditions might cause mold to form? Making the ACV from Mother sounds so simple, but I would hate to have to throw it all away because of mold! Ack.

    • Problems like mold or fruit fly larva seem to stem more from neglect eg leaving it uncovered or mishandling. Only once have I had mold and that was a larger than usual batch with no additional ACV (just a small mother) and then I let it sit (forgotten) for too long with only the fabric top which allowed too much evaporation. The evaporation dried out the mother on top which is where the mold formed. ACV in itself kills mold so generally there’s no issue there.

  20. Great post! You said you use this for cleaning, but do you ingest it as well? I take ACV on a daily basis and have thought about making it myself on occasion, just haven’t taken the time yet to figure it out.
    Safe to ingest? I would assume so. And as beneficial, or maybe moreso than Bragg’s which is also what I use now?
    Thanks!
    Katie

    • Hi Katie
      I use my ACV for everything cooking & cleaning- well except for the canning bit cause I don’t have the right tools yet. From what I understand the benefits of the mother are many and homemade ACV certainly contains the mother. Whether the homemade version contains more than Bragg’s I have no idea.

      • You mean you’re not going to go to the expense of having studies done? ;) Basically I just wanted to be sure you actually used it other than for cleaning since you mentioned you didn’t can with it, and I understand why, but just making sure. Thanks again!

  21. Your initial description of how to make the mother is confusing. You say that you mixed the Bragg’s with an equal amount of cider. I thought the mother would only live in wine because the acetobacters process alcohol into acetic acid. Wouldn’t you mix the Bragg’s with an equal amount of wine, or at least fermented cider?

    Also, how long did this process take? How long is “a bit”?

    • Sorry about any confusion.
      You’re right the about the mother however the apple juice/cider ferments quickly into alcohol which then turns into vinegar. Adding the mother right off helps to start the process and it does just fine.
      The timeline is rather vague because a) there are various factors such as temperature, and quantity (the size of the batch, as well as the ratio of fresh juice to mother) and b) you can let it age as long as you’d like. I’d say, personally, I like a minimum of 6 months, longer is generally better.
      Hopes that helps to clarify things.

      • While I am sure the the process works as you describe it, I would have to side with John here and start with alcohol. The rate that it converts the apple juice to vinegar is going to be determined by how fast the yeast can convert the sugar to alcohol. “Mother of Vinegar” , Acetobacter, is a bacteria that converts ethanol to acid but not sugar to acid.

        If you separate the process by first converting the sugar to alcohol by making wine/hard cider the ‘Mother’ should convert the alcohol at about 1% a month, or so I have read. Because you have a yeast count in the billions, if not trillions, you can convert most of the sugar in a couple weeks or less. Wine yeast is easy to get and quite cheap. You never can tell, you may like the hard cider and decide to keep half to drink and use the other half for vinegar. ;^)

        You should also use Ph test strips, litmus paper, to test the vinegar. You should use the hydrometer to test the wine, unconverted alcohol will effect the Specific Gravity but you are concerned about the % acid not so much the SG.

        So by estimate, 2 weeks to make a 12% wine/cider (or alcohol at least), 12 weeks to make 12% acid = 14 weeks to make vinegar@12%acid. Of course much longer for good tasting wine and again longer for good tasting vinegar. That being said it is not recommended that you use anything higher then 15% alcohol as it could kill the ‘Mother.’

        Still a good article and I may try this to get a starter/mother to add to some wine or mead here soon. One thing on the type of apple juice, I would use the frozen concentrate because it contains no preservatives like the bottled ones do, potassium metabisulphite. Otherwise the apple juice would ferment and the bottles would explode. Of course if you have fresh pressed that’s the best but we don’t all have an orchard it the back yard.

        Cheers

  22. Thanks for this. I’ve been watching changes happen to a bottle of apple juice and a bottle of wild grape juice I dosed with some Bragg’s smoe weeks ago. Yours is the first post I’ve found that really tells me whether I’m on the right track or not. Thanks!

    • Well, I’ve charged ahead, as I often do. I’ve got 2 cups of Bragg’s mixed with 2 cups of apple juice now sitting in a cloth covered jar in my cupboard. If I’m understanding your directions properly, I will have a mother form on the top. Once I have a good-looking mother I can begin again, right? So, knowing that I have only a quart sitting in a not very warm kitchen cupboard, what kind of time am I looking at here? It is weeks… months…? I mean, til I have a usable mother. Once I do, I can carefully pull it out and place it in what? Another half and half mixture or just a jar with apple juice? Sorry for being so picky, but that’s the way I process things! Step by tiny step! (I’m so excited! Bragg’s is so darned expensive!)

      Thank you for sharing all this. Sharing makes the world go round!

      • I find charging ahead is a great way to get it done! Sounds like you’re off to a great start. The mother will start forming fairly quickly- although at first it will be very thin, almost filmy. Try not to disturb the jar or it will take longer for the mother to form a thick cohesive layer on top. I’d say you’ll have a definite mother within weeks. Let it continue until the ACV is at the strength you want then you can place the mother in a new batch- I’d go with mostly apple juice topped with the mother and a small amount of ACV just to give it a boost. I find it’s pretty forgiving ratio wise (although more ACV to start with results in less time and just apple juice might be a bit too much for a just a small mother to handle). I hope that helps. Any other questions please ask away!

  23. HA! Just short of two weeks and I have a decent-looking MOTHER! I have not touched or even looked at the jar til today for fear of jostling it. I’m blown away! So you say leave it til it’s the strength I want. Well, since this is all new to me, I have no idea how to gauge that. Once that happens I’ll stick the mother in with plain apple juice, since I won’t be needing more for some time… Right? So, now that I have a virtually never-ending source of cheap(bordering on free) ACV, what shall I do with it?

    • Great! Sounds like your ACV/mother is doing well. Taste test for strength ( or you could get all technical and test it to make sure it’s at 5% acidity and then you could can with it). Once it is done go ahead and stick the mother in apple juice and you’ll have another batch going. You can play around with aging and compare 6 months to 9 months etc if you’d like. ACV has sooo many uses. Cook with it, clean house or yourself, heck I just found out today that if you add say pennies or steel wool to vinegar and let it sit a few days you can stain wood-haven’t tried it yet but it sounds interesting.

      • Sorry for hogging so much of your time, but this is just so fascinating to me! So, when you talk about aging the vinegar… do you mean you leave the mother in it for those 6 to 9 months? Testing for acidity… how? I hadn’t realized yet that I could use this for pickling!

        • Yes leave the mother in it. Personally I prefer at least 6 months but I’d leave it longer if I still had enough of a previous batch left. You can test for acidity by using a hydrometer (found at a brew shop) and a bit of math. I still haven’t gotten one yet but as soon as I find myself near a store that carries one I will. I just love that I can make ACV myself and use it for sooo many things- being able to do my canning with it would be the cherry on top!
          Thanks for your comments! It’s nice to know that not only are my posts being read – someone is actually finding them useful.

      • Ive made wood stain from store bought vinegar and gave a table i made out of reclaimed pallets a “weathered barn” look. I added steel wool (real steel wool not stainless steel wool), rusty nails i pulled from the pallets, coffee grounds and pennies. Love the color.

        Im so excited to try this once i can find that brand of ACV.

      • I’m so glad I read all the comments! I hadn’t heard about making wood stain! Now I want to go find a board just to test that with! It’s amazing that just a couple items can do so much around the house, isn’t it? Thank you for writing this post, and for being so patient with your readers. Now, do I add the Bragg’s to my apple juice or waste a good hard cider?! ;)

        • I haven’t tried the wood stain yet but the photos I’ve seen look gorgeous! It’s certainly on my list to try. Now unless you’re really impatient add the Bragg’s to the apple juice and save the cider for yourself :)

  24. Hello, and thank you for all this great information! Question for you… Can I use the
    mother from the braggs apple cider vinegar to make red wine vinegar? Or will the taste be off?

    • Well I haven’t tried myself so this is just speculation but… I think it would work. Especially if you added just the mother and not extra ACV. If wanted to add ACV you could but if you added ACV to it in too great of a ratio it probably would affect the taste. Just a mother should be enough and I don’t think it would impart any flavor. The only way to be sure, of course, is to try it and find out. But JIC of failure don’t use your best wine :)
      Sometimes wine will form it’s own mother spontaneously. I’ve had that happen once with white wine by accident; the time I tried for it to happen it didn’t. Figures.

      • Thanks for the quick reply. Well, I have a couple of bottles of Champagne (hubby doesn’t drink it) so I thought I could try that. Do you think the champagne would creat it’s own mother? I’m so excited to get started!

            • First, mother-of-vinegar, a bacteria, when added to anything containing alcohol (wine, champagne, beer, etc.) in the right proportion, ~15% max, should make vinegar. The bacteria feeds on the alcohol turning it to acid, 15% alcohol = 15% acid. Higher alcohol levels may tend to kill the mother. If the alcohol level is too high you can dilute it with water before adding the mother. I think that you also want a starter liquid, vinegar, to add with the soon to be vinegar to adjust the pH so you don’t get spoilage. If there is anything fuzzy growing in there best dump it and start over.

              I have read where if you leave wine in an open container for a day or so that fruit flies can add the bacteria to get it started but I would feel more comfortable with a more controlled start. If you leave it too long you will have fly larva crawling in there. Same will happen if your cloth cover is not fine enough, think cheese cloth, and fruit flies get in your vinegar.

        • Did it work? I’m under the impression that most wines in the US have preservatives in them. I bought a bottle and tried adding the Bragg’s ACV to make wine vinegar and after about 9 months, there’s still no mother, nor any change that I can see or taste in the wine.

          • I’m curious to know too! Great point about the preservatives. A lot of commercial wines do use preservatives that are suppose to kill everything off- do they still have an effect after the wine is open? I did have some rice wine vinegar form a mother spontaneously- but that was already vinegar.

  25. Can we add some of the Bragg to cheap apple cider vinegar to get apple cider vinegar with mother? Or can we add cheap to the Bragg to continue the mother? And not have it go empty? That would be wonderful.

    • If you added Bragg to some cheap ACV you would then indeed have a larger amount of ACV with the mother. I guess I’m not clear on what your goal is- are you trying to have a cheap source of ACV with the mother but you don’t want to actually produce ACV from apple juice using a mother?

      • Sorry it took me so long to reply. I would like to keep the Bragg going without having to pay the $30 for each bottle. That is wonderful to find out I can keep it going by adding cheap apple cider vinegar to it. The Bragg is a regular for me.

        • Guess this is a little late but still may be valid.

          I don’t think that adding Bragg’s to cheap vinegar is going to give you the desired result. You want the mother to grow and just like all things you need to feed it and it eats alcohol. Adding vinegar will only dilute the Bragg’s mother and not allow it to grow, in the end you will have cheap ACV.

          • Nope. I’ve been pouring cheap ACV into an old bottle of Bragg’s ACV for over a year now; and I now have half a bottle filled with the mother. The cheap ACV feeds the mother just fine. In fact, I wandered onto this site, because the mother keeps oozing out of the bottle when I pour it, so I was trying to find out what else to do with it.

  26. I tried to email back to you, but the notification thingy doesn’t allow for contacting you directly. SO… It’s now been just about one month since I started with my first 1/2 and 1/2 jar. As you said, within a few weeks I had a super-looking mother. Now, there’s a pretty darned thick one on the bottom of this one quart jar, but there’s a filmy one at the top. I just re-read to see if I should leave the mother in there for the aging process; I should, if I’ve understood correctly. However, if I could carefully extract that film on the top, could I leave the thick one on the bottom for the again of that jar ~ and start another going with the filmy stuff? I THINK it’s more mother… it’s white-ish and floating on the top.
    Gosh you are great for helping so much! Thank you!

    • Yes! That film is indeed another mother forming. You do want to leave a mother in whilst aging but if you have more than one in there you could take one out and start another batch with that one or you could leave it in. Oftentimes mothers will merge together forming a thicker one. It all depends on what you want but that’s the great thing about it- there are options and there is no right or wrong just what you prefer.

    • I used this method and am pleased to see that it does work. Having done that and seeing the result I’m not sure that the stuff you see on the bottom is mother. If you start with wine I don’t think you will get that. I think what it is is dead yeast cells. I think that this is a two step process. First the yeast converts the sugar to alcohol and then the mother converts the alcohol to acid. The filmy one on the top is the mother, similar to the SCOBY for kombucha.

  27. I’m planning to start my fermenting forays with other things, but I’m bookmarking your post in case I ever want to make my own ACV! Very informative and clearly written. I wonder if you can use an ACV mother on grape juice… We have a non-tasty grape vine in our garden, so using it for vinegar is a possibility.

  28. I use about a gallon of ACV (hair, cosmetics, supplements, and food) and a gallon of white vinegar (cleaning and laundry) in 2 weeks. Do you have any recommendations on how to make that much vinegar that quickly to keep it going? I thought of using old gallon jugs, but the opening is too small to get the mother in and out. I have a basement, but it is cool, damp, and moldy so I would be afraid of what might grow on the surface of anything (don’t know if cotton fabric would keep out mold spores), and my house is less than 1,000 sq. ft, so not a lot of room to have oodles of jars fermenting all at the same time.

    Please tell me there is a way to do this! I culture my own buttermilk, make the cheese, use the whey, soak my grains. I make all my own hair/skin (except for makeup) care products. As much vinegar as I use, I would LOVE to make this for myself as well!!

    • Sorry to take so long in replying -I’ve been away from the internet for a while…… That’s a lot of ACV to have going at a time- I’ll just throw some thoughts out there-Kegs, wide mouth gallon containers such as glass ball gallon jars, old gallon jugs which you pour the finished ACV out of leaving the mother inside (eventually you’d have to either start new ones or cut into the old jug). Really the size and shape of the container doesn’t matter though. I wouldn’t want it open around mold -perhaps start smaller batches upstairs then age in the basement? If my math isn’t all confused I think if you had about 13-14 gallons continuously going you’d have enough so that the oldest batch would be at least 6 months old when you used it. I think it’s doable but you might have to be creative.

  29. I make wine and found glass crocks with glass lid that hold 2 1/2 gallons. They have a rim
    around the mouth that is good for tying a cloth to cover the crock. They work great for first
    firmentation in making wine and cost about 10 to 12 dollars at giant department stores in kitchen
    glassware area. There is also a smaller crock of this same type, looks to be a gallon on
    less not sure. I have had hard cider to become vinegar when air reached the wine, but
    have not had a mother form. I plan to try this to make acv which I use many ways including
    on my horses hooves to prevent softening of hooves due to bacterial growth. The meds used
    for this on the market are toxic and this acv works fine.

    • I am not really an expert on this but from my understanding, if you don’t get a mother you really don’t have vinegar only a wine that has soured, could be wrong. I have read that if you take a jar of wine, maybe watered down, and leave it set open for a few days it will pick up the bacteria needed and form a mother. Some have said that when they saw a fruit fly floating in there they knew they had the bacteria, again only read it and never tried it. I do know that there are places that will send you a mother and you can build from there. I had one but it became infested with larva so I tossed it and haven’t started again yet.
      One thing I have read is that if you make both wine and vinegar, do them in separate locations, in the barn maybe for vinegar, or you could be making everything into vinegar. Probably more important during primary when the wine is open to the air.

  30. My first jar is now going on three months old and I just tasted it. WOW! It’s awesome already!
    I took the mother off the top of that jar and started another jar. My first jar has a fairly thick one on the bottom, and it had those two thinner ones at the top. I didn’t check here first and I just plopped the mother (two thin ones) into another jar and poured the apple juice on top. How important is it to have the mother ‘whole’ and on the top? If that’s important, how do you remove and transfer it whole?

    • Glad to hear your ACV is doing well and you have another mother going! The size of the mother doesn’t matter (you can even tear or cut it) nor does it matter if it floats or not. Although the mother may float back up within a few days. In any case the mother will always form a layer to fit the jar exactly.
      mossy stone

  31. Pingback: Apple Cider Vinegar {making a mother} « Mihnea Georgescu, Esq.

  32. I hope I’m not asking something that has already been answered, but it’s been on my mind…
    I have three (quart) bottles of ACV “brewing”. However, that’s does not cover my present needs. I hate to go spend all that money on another bottle of Bragg’s though. What do you think of me buying a jug (almost gallon) of grocery store cider vinegar and dropping a mother into it? I’m thinking that it could bring it to life… in much less time than starting with apple juice. In the mean time, do you think it useless to start using grocery store ACV for a few months ’til my presently brewing stash is ready for consumption?

    • I think it would work. After all adding a mother would add live cultures and since the ACV is already ACV (although sterile) it won’t need the time to turn juice into alcohol and alcohol into vinegar. Don’t forget tho to start some more batches cause I have found that real ACV is so easy to use up and it’s easy to underestimate how much you’ll use in 6 months (or more).

      • Yes true… since I ran across your article I have definitely been using (and wanting) more ACV!
        I’m going to buy a gallon today and scoop some mother out of another jar to plunk in it.
        Although the live ACV is ideal, do you think the sterile stuff is useless when it comes to taking it as a supplement? I’ve never been clear on that. Because I want to let my other three quarts to sit and ‘grow’, I am down to zero ACV! I hate to go buy another quart of Bragg’s when a gallon from the grocery store is sooooo cheap! Thoughts?

        • I don’t think it’d be useless- after all it is still ACV- just pasteurized. That said I do think live ACV is vastly better because not only does it contain live cultures but it should also contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals.

      • My gosh. the number of beautiful women asking questions on this website is unbelievable! Look at all the pictures with the questions, WOW If using ACV does that I am going to make several gallons for my wife!!!!!!! Apple Juice section of the grocery store here I come!!!!!

    • Hmm. It depends on how you mean. I think it the container itself would work. The mother should float back up to the top when refilled (or a new mother would form at the top) so the spigot would be an easy way to transfer the finished product… However if you mean a continuous batch I’m not sure that would work well. I think the fresh juice you’d be adding wouldn’t have time to become vinegar. At least that’s what I think I’m not an expert after all :)

  33. A few months ago I had poured in a gallon a bit of Braggs ACV (with no mother) and some water with honey. I left it alone for a few months. When opening the lid to the gallon I noticed a mother growing inside? Is this still safe to drink? I tasted it and it tastes way different than what I usually taste when mixing fresh ACV with water and honey. Did I do wrong in leaving it sealed shut? Is it ok for it to taste different? Please help. Thank you

    • By adding honey to the mix and letting it sit the honey will convert like any sugar. Making mead, honey wine, is just like making grape wine but the entire process can take a year or more to taste good where wine may be drinkable in as little as 3 months.

  34. Okay, so now I’m wondering if I have a problem…
    I have three one-quart jars on the go. Two were started in May and the other in August. None of them has a nice clean translucent mother floating on the top. In all three a medium brown layer floats at the bottom. In the one I’ve been using there’s also quite a bit of sludge(?) floating around as well. It’s settled on the bottom ’til the jar is moved. They all started with that lovely looking mother growing. They have a wonderful smell of acv. The one I’m using tastes like a good strong acv. (It’s approximately five months old)
    It’s the look that bothers me. Your pictures show a very clear liquid with lovely pale, squishy, live-looking mothers floating. Mine are not like that at all.
    I wonder if my mothers died when I took off the cloth and closed them with proper lids. They’re up away in a dark closet so I haven’t really watched them progress.
    I don’t know if these are good/okay/safe to consume. I just had a couple of table spoons in a glass of water… but I can’t help but be nervous.
    I know you are not a vinegar scientist, but I just wondered what you thought.

    Thank You so much for ‘being’ there!

    Peace

    • I wish I could be a photo to get a better idea but generally what you say doesn’t sound bad. Sometimes the mother will sink and sludge is completely normal. I have 3 or 4 jars going right now and each one looks different- both in color and in the appearance of the mother. I also trade in the cloth top for a proper lid and it doesn’t seem to negatively affect the mother. If the mother did for some reason die the ACV should still be ok but you’d have to start a new mother. If the mother is still alive you should see a new thin filmy mother starting on the surface again. If smell is good and no mold or anything like that then it’s likely ok. If you can figure out a way to share a photo I’d be interested to see them (perhaps email thru my contact page?) Best Wishes!

  35. Hello, Thank you for this wonderful posting with lots of great questions and answers!
    I have 8 (1/2) gallon jars going right now and I want to make sure that I do not mess them up. I only have 3 small mother’s from last year’s batch so the others I used some Bragg’s acv and they have been sitting for about 1 week now. I just checked them and there is some white foamy looking stuff on the top of the mixture and it does not look like mold but I am wondering if it is the start of something pathogenic and/or the start of the mother growing. Do you know?

    I have them in a homemade incubator my husband made for me that keeps the acv at a steady 72 degrees day and night. I left about 3-4 inches headspace on each jar and they are in Mason jars with a piece of muslin cloth and rubber band.

    I did have 2 linen towels draped over jars to protect them from the light (the incubator uses a lightbulb and fan to circulate warm air and so the light goes on and off periodically) that they’ll get sometimes. Yet, I am not sure if they are able to “breathe” properly with so many layers on them.

    So, I will stop there with questions :)
    I appreciate any feedback you may have.
    Warmly,
    Tara

    • It sounds to me like they’re fermenting. You didn’t say but I assume you’re starting with apple juice which would have to ferment and turn all that sugar to alcohol. A flimy mother being pushed up by gases could also look foamy too. I’ve never used an incubator for ACV but at 72F they should be progressing pretty steadily. How long do you plan to keep them in there? The breathe-ablitly is more for the releasing of all the gases that would otherwise build up during the fermentation processes. Once the apple juice is alcohol you could cap the jars. I usually age with a cap on so fruit flies can’t lay any larvae in there and to help prevent the mother from drying out on top. Generally folks say to ferment some place dark but I have left jars on the counter with no ill effects. Of course that is not the same as a light on them…I guess my concern would be the mothers getting dried out giving mold a place to potentially grow. Fermentation is a living process!

      • Okay, thank you for all of this. I just checked on them now and they have a bit of mold on the top floating (blue green mold). Are they contaminated? This is using fresh raw apple cider that I pressed so this is really precious and I am uncertain about what I am doing. I have just one red linen towel covering them but parts are exposed to the lightbulb coming on and off from time to time. Any thoughts?

        • Hmm. Mold is never good; especially because it is hard to fully remove. Generally mold equals throw away although some say you can try to fully remove it and see if it comes back. How much ACV did you start them with? Perhaps if you mixed it with a heavy ratio of ACV to fresh cider the acidic-ness could help….

  36. Hello, I was given a mother (the slippery kind, not the one who raised me kind), put it in a large mayonnaise jar with water and a medium sized sliced red apple. I have some cloth on top sealed with a rubber band.
    I was told when the apples sink the acv is ready, however it has been 5 days and the apples are still floating on top. Should I put the jar in a dark place?
    It’s smelling more and more alcoholic by the day and I wouldn’t want it to grow mold.
    Thanks for your detailed post!

    • I’ve never heard of it being done that way- but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. I have made some ACV from apple fruit scraps but I did the apple and water part first then when I took out the apple peels/cores I added a mother. It’s like making the juice then converting it alcohol then to vinegar. It does take a while! I wouldn’t leave it in direct sunlight but I don’t think absolute darkness is needed either. As for mold- I wish I knew how to prevent it! I haven’t had a lot of trouble with it but sometimes it just shows up- especially with fresh ciders/juices (vs pasteurized). I’d love to hear how this process works out for you.

    • I can see where this may work but I wonder what the Ph, acid level, of the final product will be.

      Just for reference I did a little experiment. I took a plain apple, green apple from the store, and run it through the juicer. I then tested the juice on my hydrometer to get the specific gravity (SG). That turned out to be about 1.055. I can then calculate the amount of alcohol I would get if fermented down to about 0.995 and that was 7.66% according to my chart. That will yield vinegar with about 7.6% acid. So from that you can figure that if you want at least 5% acid you could add about 1 pint of water per quart of apple juice. According to Wikipedia it takes ~ 2 kilos (4.4 lbs.) of apples to make 1 liter of juice so a quick estimate would be about 2 cups of water to 4 lbs. of apples if your extraction was as good as pressing the apples. So if you have 2 cups of water and one apple your acid is never going to get very high, IMHO anyway.
      These numbers will vary by the type of apples and the amount of sugar present in the juice. If you want to calculate this just go to the local home brew store and pick up a hydrometer to measure the SG. Test paper/strips in the range you want if you want to test the Ph level.

      I think that if I were to try this I would crush the apples first and then add water and yeast, bakers, brewers or wine yeast all should work, to convert the sugar to alcohol. This cider production should take about a week to 10 days, the alcohol in this is going to be about the same as beer if you are lucky so don’t let the kids drink it. Then strain out the apples, try and leave the sediment behind as that is yeast, and add the mother and some original ACV. The best option is squeeze the juice first, ferment with yeast, then turn to vinegar. Add water if you want a lower acid content.

      Did you know? In almost every country, other the the US and parts of Canada, that cider is an alcoholic beverage. So when they call it Apple Cider Vinegar is that a US name or a British name? Is it made from Hard Cider (Cider) or Soft Cider(Juice)?

      • What a great experiment Tony! I couldn’t even begin to look for a brew store in my neck of the woods. It took me seeks to be find regular yeast, you know the one that looks like cake.
        I like your idea of adding yeast though, I let the mother do its work as it was on its way, and after two weeks the apples finally dropped to the bottom of the jar.

        • I got cut off.It smells like alcoholic apple cider though It doesn’t taste like alcohol, more like vinegar, and I will try it on salads and as a hair rinse as a test run (: My next experiment is to make plain white vinegar with the mother with just water and yeast to speed up the process. Would that work I reckon?

  37. I am back with a couple questions on the acv I have had going for the past 4-6 weeks now…made from fresh apples that we pressed. I tossed the jars that went moldy and am left with about 9 (1/2 gallon) jars. I moved them upstairs from where they had been in my incubator (I culture all sorts of goodies so yes I have an incubator!!) and kept at 72 degrees F. They have been on my shelf in kitchen at a fairly steady 64 degrees with pieces of muslin cloth and rubber bands and a linen towel over them to protect from the light.

    They have been doing great and mothers are nice and thick in most of them.
    Yet last night I checked on them and 2 more went moldy and many of the others have a white thin film on top that looks not so great. The ones that went moldy seem to have been protected by the mother as only one side of her went moldy and the cider underneath seemed fine as the mother looked super healthy on that side!

    Okay, so now I don’t know what to do! I put some jars in fridge until I did…they taste a tad bit sweet when I first put some in my mouth and then has a nice tangy bite after. Do I cap them? Have they been under cloth too long? Or should I add more Bragg’s acv? Is 64 degrees to low? Could go as low as 58-60 at times when we are gone all day. I could also cap them and put them in my incubator at 68 degrees???

    Any thoughts would be mighty appreciated :)

    Warmly,
    Tara

    • Tara-
      Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. So sad to hear of the mold problem! I have read (in The Art of Fermentation) that fresh jars should be stirred or shaken daily until the mother forms to prevent mold. After the mother forms the acidity will protect the vinegar. I have had a few experiences with nice thick mothers developing mold on the top. I seems to me that the top of the mother is often left unprotected (pokes up out of the vinegar). So what I do now is to move the jar just enough that the vinegar washes over the top of the mother (but not so much as to make the mother sink). Also I’d put a cap on them. That will protect them from any mold spores in the air. If you’d rather not loose the thick mothers that had mold on top what I would do is to try to divide the mother- throwing away the moldy part then rinsing the rest of the mother in straight vinegar to be sure no spores are left. You might also want to put the ACV into new jars if the mold was on the side of the jars to prevent re-contamination. You can continue to age them with cap on. If they haven’t fully converted to vinegar you may have to burp the jars a time or two.Once the jars are fully vinegar you don’t want them exposed to the air or the vinegar will become less acidic. The Art of Fermentation also mentions 59-94F as a good temperature range. Hope that helps!

      • Wonderful, very very helpful and you are packed full of knowledge about this matter :) I just ordered the Art of Fermentation book and am excited to look that through. I will go check on the jars I have going. The ones I was most concerned about are in the fridge until I had heard back from you. So it is good to feel more confident about the steps to take. Thank you.

  38. Pingback: ACV- Appearances Vary! | mossgrownstone

  39. Thank you so much for sharing the process!!! I was with you all along, I think some of the confusion comes from not having worked with mothers & fermenting :) can’t wait to get it started….I have been wondering FOREVER if I could reuse the mother in the braggs jar!!!!
    Blessings~ Wendy

  40. Our ACV keeps getting fruit flies in it. I have it covered with cheese cloth and had a elastic also around the rim. I replaced the elastic with a lid with a small hole in the top of the lid. The flies still managed to get in somehow. Is this normal?

    • Fruit flies are a common problem, especially in the summer months. I find that fruit flies can sometimes crawl through the cheesecloth and/or lay eggs that get through the cheesecloth. If I use cheesecloth I use several layers, most of the time I use scrap fabric I’ve cut into squares with the o mason jar lid holding it on or an elastic. Either way if there are fruit flies around it’s best to change and wash whatever covering you’re using fairly frequently. This way the fruit flies don’t have time to crawl through and any eggs they lay won’t have time to hatch/fall through. Cap as soon as possible so it ages safely.

  41. I have two lot of ACV, one I got from the shop which look’s like veg oil (just not as thick) and smell’s like vinegar. The other bottle I got has ‘The mother’ in it, this bottle how ever smell’s a lot like cider (it make’s me think of a drink I had on holiday called scrumpy). Should ACV smell like cider or vinegar?

    The two bottle’s are the only one’s I have to go off so I would love any help on this.

    Also the cider smelling bottle I got online look’s like very dark pee and has stringy looking blobs floating around in it (I take this is the mother).

    • I think that typical store brought (without the mother) ACV smells like vinegar while ACV (with the mother) smells more cider/apples. It has a vinegar smell to it too but better :) The color may vary depending on the juice/cider used. The stringy blobs are indeed the mother although if you get your own mother going it will look more like the photos in my post than stringy.

  42. Great article!
    I started acv from scratch 6 weeks ago. I want to grow my own mother, as I am not able to obtain one where I am. I know that this will take time. But I think I’m growing mold!
    I quartered apples (from my trees) and put them in a jar with water and a natural sugar source (as someone else’s article had instructed) and let them sit undisturbed and covered with a coffee filter for about 5 weeks.
    Today I went to remove the apples (did I wait too long for that?). The liquid smells strong of alcohol already, and a flimsy mother was forming over the top. Some of the apples had poked out of the water and have blueish film on them. I removed the apples. There was no way to save the flimsy mother. I am not sure what to do from here to create acv. I have serious doubts this will work and that I will get a mother out of this experience. Do I strain the alcoholic liquid before I re-jar them? Should I not proceed because I might have grown mold?
    Any ideas?
    Thanks!

    • Renay- I think there is still hope. It sounds like you got off to a good start with the apple, sugar and water mixture. A coffee filter also makes a great cover. However next time I would be sure to shake/stir the apples around everyday. This will help prevent any mold spores from getting a start. I don’t have a definitive answer for how long to leave the apples. I have read- in Katz’s Wild Fermentation- to leave the fruit in until the liquid starts to darken. He notes 1 week. In The Art of Fermentation he says till active bubbling is evident. I read elsewhere a wide range of 2 weeks to when the fruit stops floating. I think 1 week isn’t long enough. The liquid in my fruit scraps is still clear then with a few bubbles. I do notice darkening soon after but I think I usually wait till around 3 or 4 weeks for more flavor and more active bubbling. The liquid doesn’t seem to get darker and the apples appear to be starting to fall apart a bit. They are still floating though. I strain the liquid so I don’t have all those apple bits in there. Then I like to add a mother I already have. Katz’s fruit scrap vinegar instructions say to age 2-3 weeks for vinegar- it will take longer for a mother to form. The acetobacter is present so even though you had to remove that first flimsy mother another will form. I would strain the liquid and re-jar them in a wide jar (the more surface area the better for a mother). If mold grows then you’ll know it’s contaminated. Then I’d throw it out. Also to help prevent mold in the later stages cap the jars as soon as you no longer notice the alcohol smell/taste.Best of luck!

      • Thanks for the reply and all the great info! I’m very happy to hear that the mother can come back. :) Now that I’m armed with better info, I’m going to try a pineapple vinegar next. Do you know if I can use the mother from the acv (assuming it works out) to give the pineapple a headstart? Or are mothers fruit specific?

  43. Help! I’ve been “brewing” my first ever batch of ACV. and apparently fruit flies. I’ve got mothers, come and gone, started the batches in the fall. Reading around a 3.8 on the ph strip. Should I filter out the mothers, and ACV, bottle and use? or paturize? save mother for mext batch? what? I’ve heard fflies are good, and I’ve heard to pitch everything?! I don’t want to pitch it all, want to save it. Help me please?
    p.s. there’s larvre on the jar sides too…
    thanx

    • If you want to save it I’d definitely filter it. A very fine filter like a coffee filter will be more likely to catch those tiny fruit flies, their larva and eggs. If any eggs get through they may hatch so you could pasturize the finished ACV or use it in something that is cooked like BBQ sauce. As for the mother- if it is thick enough to handle you could rinse it well and cross your fingers they don’t come back. I’ve never heard of fruit flies being good (or bad beyond the eww there’s bugs) and it’s usually easier to pitch everything than to try to get rid of them as you can clean everything and it will look like they’re gone…until some eggs hatch and you’re right back where you started. Also you didn’t mention what you used to cover the ACV while it was fermenting but cheesecloth and the like have holes that are too big and eventually fruit flies will get in. I recommend using fabric or muslin (often used to strain jelly or nut milk). If it’s summer and there are lots of fruit flies around you can also change the covering every week or so to help prevent any eggs from getting in there too. Good Luck!

      • I used Cheesecloth and doubled it 4 times and still fruit flies got in. I put a dishtowel over the ACV and had better luck. Thanks

  44. Pingback: Pineapple Vinegar | mossgrownstone

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  46. Been a while since I was on here. Haven’t started any vinegars – long and serious sickness and death in the family. But I noticed that the gallons of cheap (pasteurized) ACV that I had stored in a dark room have begun to develop ‘threads’ of something that I’m hoping to be a mother. My question is can you grow a mother in cheap vinegar? Or else, what is this stuff? Still using it by the way! :)

    • My condolences to you and your family.
      A little while ago Crystal commented in reply: “I’ve been pouring cheap ACV into an old bottle of Bragg’s ACV for over a year now; and I now have half a bottle filled with the mother. The cheap ACV feeds the mother just fine. In fact, I wandered onto this site, because the mother keeps oozing out of the bottle when I pour it, so I was trying to find out what else to do with it.”
      In this case Crystal has introduced the mother, which can also be introduced through the air so perhaps your ACV is developing a mother. I can’t say for sure that is what it is but maybe!

      • I had read Crystal’s comment and thought that maybe something similar was happening to mine except this looks like slimy ‘threads’ as opposed to the thick ‘cakes’ in your pictures in your article. I just didn’t know if all ‘mothers’ had to look the same or if it is safe to assume that anything slimy growing IN (not floating on top of) the vinegar would qualify as ‘mother’. And thanks for the condolences. Simple kindnesses from strangers mean a lot.

        • Ah yes, over time, if left undisturbed, the mother will form a “cake” but at first it appears as a thin film on the surface and or as threads. So it does sound like a mother and I can’t think of anything else it could be. If you’d like a thicker mother try letting the ACV sit undisturbed. If, on the other hand, you don’t want athe mother you’ll have to heat it otherwise even if it’s been strained it will slowly reform.

  47. I’m so glad I signed up to receive notification of new comments–it reminded me to go check on my second batch, which is two weeks old. The mother had started to dry out and turn dark in one area, so I carefully spooned a little liquid over it and then capped it, as I’d only had it covered with a folded flour sack towel (rubber-banded in place). I wonder if my ACV is also the reason why we can’t get rid of the fruit flies in the house this summer? We’ve never had problem like this before. We’ve tried a variety of traps, from homemade to store-bought, and they’re driving us nuts!

    • I’m sorry to say but the ACV probably is the reason the fruit flies are sticking around. ACV makes a great fruit fly trap. Maybe try using a little ACV in a small container to trap them? Now that you capped it the fruit flies shouldn’t be as attracted to it. You might have to “burp” the capped ACV a few times since it’s still so new (to relieve any pressure form the fermenting process). I hope those little buggers go away- good luck!

  48. Before I found this, I made ACV using apple cores, sugar, water, and lots of patience. However the 2 batches I have made, over 6 weeks ago, smell like alcohol instead of vinegar. Any ideas why or any advice? I’m considering trying the method posted instead, so what kind of apple juice? Another site says raw, unpasteurized. TIA

    • Keep those batches going! At first the apples,sugar and water will turn to alcohol then the alcohol will turn to vinegar- it’s just a matter of time. And, if you’re not already, stir everyday to keep any scraps floating at the top from starting to mold. I make ACV both ways depending on what the apple scrap situation is in my kitchen (I also usually add a mother to the scrap vinegar to give it a boost but you can rely on wild yeast too).For the ACV made from juice you can use any kind of apple juice.

      • Thanks. But do I keep the lid on the whole time or do I take it off once things have developed a bit? I’ve read conflicting advice.

        • You want some air flow at first then later put a lid on it. If you put a lid on it and it builds up pressure – it wasn’t done fermenting. Either go back to covering it with a breathable fabric or “burp” the lid a few times.

  49. So, I think I accidentally grew a mother in my Braggs ACV bottle! I had apparently put it away with the lid not quite tight and then weeks (who knows how many?!) later noticed a funky, gelatinous, white filmy looking thing floating on top. Naturally, it freaked me out…thankfully I had just recently started brewing kombucha and wondered if this was similar to a scoby…sounds about right from this post and the comments! While I did toss the gelatinous mass (which I now know to be “the mother” manifested!), the ACV remains in my cupboard…still ok to use as normal, correct????? Thanks!!

    • Yes ACV is OK to use with or without the mother in it. Braggs ACV has been filtered so while there is the mother in it it’s not that “gelatinous mass”. If you for some reason didn’t want the live cultures you’d have to heat the ACV but that’s not necessary.

  50. Can you use regular store bought pasteurized apple juice to make this? I am going to do this as I use it everyday and it gets sooooo expensive to buy Bragg’s.

  51. Thanks for your article! I have several questions, would really appreciate if you would give your thoughts.

    I’ve read in the comments above that mixing ACV that has the mother in it with regular ACV (from the store, without the mother) can work well. I thought that the way this process works is by turning sugar into alcohol then into vinegar. Using juice works because that’s the sugar source. But isn’t there little to no sugar in vinegar? So how would this work?

    At what point do you know to switch from using a fabric cloth to putting a tight lid on it? You mention a hydrometer but what measurement value are you looking for? I’m brand new to this so I have no idea when to switch it.

    You say it’s better to store in a cool, dark place at all points in the cycle. How cool should it be?

    When it is ready, I can take out the mother to start a new batch, but then by taking out the mother the vinegar that’s left will be less nutritious right? (Taking ACV mainly for health benefits.) Wouldn’t it be far better to just shake it up so the mother breaks apart, then use that? Then you’re getting all the benefit from the mother.

    In your post you said you took the mother and some vinegar out of the first batch and started another. Now that the first batch has no mother, a new one will start to form from scratch? Did you need to add some more juice to that first batch to ‘feed’ it?

    • I haven’t tried adding a mother to pasteurized ACV. As you’ve read above other say they have had it work for them. On one hand, like you say, there is no food for the mother. However I have noticed that ACV that has a live culture continues to produce a new mother even after it is already vinegar. I will have to reread Katz and see if I can find an explanation.
      As for a time line to switch from fabric to a solid lid- I’d say a few months give or take, depending on factors like temperature. If you think it’s ready cap it and check back to see if any pressure is building. If it is a lot switch back to fabric, if only a little over some time “burping” the jar would be fine if you’d rather do that.
      What you are looking for is high acidity- store vinegar is 5%. You can use a hydrometer to figure out the conversion or try using PH strips as a commenter mentions above. I think that might be the easiest method.
      Cool and dark is mostly for storage. During fermentation temperature will affect how quickly the fermentation process takes place so warmer is generally better. Too hot will kill the live cultures tho so avoiding direct sunlight will give you more control over the temperature. Storing at room temperature is fine but avoid a place that gets additional heat -ie over the fridge,in direct sunlight, etc
      When you remove the mother you are removing the cellulose mass however the live cultures are still in the liquid. And it will form a new mother on top over time. That’s why Bragg’s vinegar contains the mother but doesn’t have a blob in it but we can grow a mother from it. Once the mother thickens up it doesn’t really break apart. You can eat it tho.
      You don’t want to add more juice to the finished ACV or you’ll have to wait for that juice to turn to alcohol and the alcohol to turn to vinegar. Time- wise it makes more sense to start a new batch and age or use the finished ACV.
      Hope I cover all you questions- if not ask away.

  52. Hi Moss. . .I would also really like to know a little more about what the process would be using regular pasteurized acv and adding the Braggs to start a mother and then continuous batches (less fermenting time etc?). . . I have read all of the comments and realize that you haven’t actually tried this yet yourself, though you seem pretty well versed with the process. . . I have a small amount left of a bottle of Braggs and would love to try that method. . .Maybe you could elaborate how we might go about this or even try it yourself at some point and post a companion article. . .Great piece by the way, very useful! Cheers!

    • Like you say I’ll have to try it. I’ll certainly be doing some research to see if the mother, once introduced, needs to be feed (which would seem to make sense) or if once the vinegar is inoculated with live cultures if will just continue to form new mothers (which also seems to happen in our jars of ACV). The experiment may take a while but I’ll certainly post the out come.

      • Thanks moss. Best of luck with your blogging etc are on the right track by acknowledging everyone’s questions and taking the time to respond.
        :)

  53. So I just looked at my ACV and it seems that there is larvae in the mother that is floating on top. I am supposing that little fruit flies left them as calling cards. I need to have thicker covering on the top instead of cheesecloth. My question is should I just throw away the whole batch? Will the fruit fly larvae ever leave my mother?

    • I’d toss it. Once the larvae are in the mother there’s a never ending cycle of fruit flies, eggs and larvae. If you feel like fiddling around with it you could remove the mother and carefully pour the ACV into a new container. Perhaps straining through a coffee filter. That might get rid of them and then a new mother would form. However, there’s a chance it won’t do the trick. I’ve had it work both ways.

      • Oh, thank you, thank you for replying! I really wasn’t sure about what I was seeing. I am so glad that you confirmed my suspicions. And you gave me an idea to try……bless you!

  54. Awesome! I am trying to make ACV using peels right now, left over from making apple sauce. Would you say it takes less time to start with a mother first? How long? It takes about a month otherwise.

    • You may have already found your answer (sorry I didn’t notice your comment earlier). I do think it takes less time if you start with a mother because the ACV already has the live culture and isn’t dependent on catching wild yeast and getting it going that way. How much less time I can’t really say. I haven’t kept a written record of how long different batches took, I’m just going on memory. If you’ve found an answer please feel free to share.

  55. I have a question. Several sites say you leave the mother/vingar covered with a cloth while letting it age. You say, cover it with lid for it to continue to ferment. Do we need to cover it with lid or cloth lid while it is fermenting? One guy says it needs to breath still. Confused

    • Also, can adding additional sugars later on in fermenting process, make the ACV sweeter to taste or will it mess it up? I like sweeter vinegar. I heard that the longer it ferments, the more sour it is.

      • You want to leave the container “open” (covered) so it can breathe. After the main fermenting process is done you can let it age covered. You don’t want to cover it before then cause pressure will build and vinegar needs air. If you want your ACV less acidic you can age it less. I wouldn’t add sugar or then the fermenting process will start again- turning the sugar to alcohol and alcohol to vinegar. Hope that clears your questions up….

  56. I have this white powdery substance growing on the top on no “solid” mother. What’s the powdery stuff? It smells really vinegary. Should I dump it?

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  58. Thanks for the helpful article. I am having a hard time finding out how to know if ACV I made is safe for consumption or not. Basically, I had a few dozen gallons of cider pressed in the fall, and about five gallons that I couldn’t fit in the fridge in time before they turned, so I figured I’d let them turn to vinegar. I had it in good grade buckets out in my garage, cracked open to the outdoor air. The temp was colder than ideal most of the time. Finally I brought them into the house and they have been sitting since. I just want to know if there are any bad bacterial associated with the process that maybe I didn’t safeguard against, and how I can find out if my stuff is good or not. I wouldn’t mind just trying some if the risk was just a bad stomach ache or something, but I have no idea what kind of risk is involved. I’m just hoping the acidity of it means virtually no risks associated. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Tommy

    • To be honest I have no idea if your cider is good or not. However given that it’s cider it should have either turned into hard cider (alcoholic) or if it went beyond that into vinegar. Smell should tell you- there’s no mistaking the smell of vinegar. The only problem I have encountered that makes it unfit for consumption is mold and that would be apparent.

  59. Pingback: The Apple Cider Vinegar Experiment {Part 1 – The Set Up} | mossgrownstone

  60. Okay, so I have tried this a couple of times according to your directions here and I now have a few questions. The “mother” is kind of mucous-y instead of how yours in the picture looks and has some black color to it, no fuzzies or anything, I’m just not sure what that color indicates (mold?). It has been sitting for about 3 months now and I am not getting any vinegary smell, it still smells like alcohol. My godfather said that is how they used to make hard liquor?!?! I just want to know if any of what I am getting from this experience is normal to any extent, how I can improve it if need-be, and if I should go ahead and toss that batch and start over. I haven’t been using it because I am not sure about it but I REALLY want this to work. I refuse to afford 8 bucks for 12 oz. of Braggs that won’t even get me close to the many uses I have come across for ACV. I would rather be patient and make my own… I just need some guidance. LOL Thanks in advance!

  61. Hi there, MossGrown: )
    I’m thinking that the term “Mother” is used in the same way here as your mother made you and mine made me; just as ACV’s Mother makes ACV, Kombucha’s Mother makes more Kombucha and Sourdough starter makes more Sourdough?

      • I didn’t read all of the comments, please forgive me if I’m repeating here… If you go to a DIY wine/beer making shop, you can get a water filter which will keep your batches safe from fruit flies and unwanted airborne bacteria while the Mother works it’s magic: )

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  63. Thank you for this information on mother my daughter and I have been looking for this for 15years. That many years ago we raised mother from a little piece that a friend gave us . We put it in a gal glass jar with a sprite and we could get vinegar out with out bothering the mother. I had canned some apple juice at a scanner. And had stored it I a closet. When I open the Apple juice it must have been reminded be cause my mother must have gotten 5 time bigger. My friends told us that as long as we feed it every week it would just keep making vinegar. Is that statement right. Again thank you for the information.

  64. Hello, I am new to this homemade ACV, I have some questions.
    I make my ACV with cores and peels of apple which I have so many, I add sugar and let it sit, it’s fermented so quick because the weather in my area is really hot. But the problem is, the cores keep floating over the water and I think that is not good,right? or it’s just ok?
    If that is not ok,I will throw all away and start a new batch.
    Thanks a lot.

  65. I had to pick some very early little sour apples from my tree that is trying to make too many apples. Can I start ACV from these and sugar water alone? Do you think it would eventually form a mother?

  66. Hiya!
    I have a jar of pineapple vinegar coming along. It’s been a couple of weeks now. I’ve still got it covered in cloth and haven’t moved it at all. Another week or two and I’ll pull it down, smell it, and put a lid on. Might sound silly, but I can’t wait to smell it!
    Have I thanked you enough yet? *grin*
    Peace, Maija

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