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View Full Version : Is vinegar a mollusc?


lissener
11-20-2005, 05:34 PM
I recenty had a fruit fly problem. They got into EVERYTHING.

Also, as an obsessive cook, I buy a lot of my liquid staples in bulk: gallons of olive, grapeseed, canola, sesame, and peanut oil; and gallons of rice, cider, malt, red, and cheap balsamic vinegar; soy sauce, tamari, rice wine, chili oil, etc. I then transfer the contents into those semitranslucent squirt bottles. I have a couple dozen of them arrayed on my counter.

The vinegar I use most is the rice vinegar, so recently it's been the only one I leave out in its pointy little bottle.

So the other day, I go to grab it, from behind a bunch of other pointy bottles, and I see with dismay that it has a bunch of grotty little black specks in it. Yep, fruitflies diving in from the tiny hole at the top to do the backstroke of death in my vinegar. Then I see that there's what appears to be a white film on top of the vinegar. Yucky mold or something, musta got started on a dead fly then spread a scum across the vinegar. Mildly interesting, but grosser than it is interesting.

So I dump it out in the sink and let the bottle sit under running water for a while. When I go to dump that out, there's what appears to be a thin scallop, or a disc of squid flesh in bottle I have to manipulate it with a pair of chopsticks, to fold it and get it out.

It's solid; it's like flesh. If you had handed it to me outside of its context, my first guess would have been that it was a disc of squid flesh, or some other type of mollusc. It was also kinda like the flesh of a lychee, only more opaque--though not entirely.

It was really yucky.

Anyone know what bizarre alchemy took place in my vinegar squirter?

Random
11-20-2005, 05:42 PM
It's a vinegar mother.

http://www.sallys-place.com/food/columns/willan/mother_of_all.htm

Zabali_Clawbane
11-20-2005, 05:44 PM
Why don't you put caps on your squirt bottles to prevent such things as bugs getting into them. They sell squirt bottles with caps, didn't yours come with caps? You'd better check all your other bottles, especially things like olive oil. I don't know what was the deal with the thing you found in your vinegar, but I'm curios to find out if anyone else might know.

Polycarp
11-20-2005, 07:28 PM
It's a vinegar mother.

http://www.sallys-place.com/food/columns/willan/mother_of_all.htm

Nice catch! Thinking I knew what was coming, I was going to quote lissener's thread-title question, and then respond, "No, but its mother is!" :)

lissener
11-21-2005, 03:57 AM
Cool. Is it rare? I've had vinegar in my kitchen all my life and have never seen such a thing. Was it somehow catalyzed by the fruit fly corpses, or was that just a coincidence?

Shoulda kept it I guess.

Joey P
11-21-2005, 06:14 AM
Cool. Is it rare? I've had vinegar in my kitchen all my life and have never seen such a thing. Was it somehow catalyzed by the fruit fly corpses, or was that just a coincidence?

Shoulda kept it I guess.

If you kept it, you could have used it to make your own vinegar. But you should be able to buy it as well.

olpeculiar
11-21-2005, 09:19 AM
Lissener - you and I are cooks cut from the same cloth. But I have heard many say that you shouldn't store vinegar in plastic containers. I've heard that the plastic doesn't act as a proper oxygen barrier - free access to oxygen can oxidize the vinegar. But it seems to me that the high acid levels in vinegar might want to interact with the plastic. Maybe? Perhaps the lump of squid flesh is some residue from the vinegar reacting with the plastic?

I just use the same old glass bottles that I've had forever, and fill them from my gallon jugs. But I do like the idea of restaurant-style ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles for other liquids - Hmm, I'll have to think about that...

clairobscur
11-21-2005, 10:14 AM
Cool. Is it rare? I've had vinegar in my kitchen all my life and have never seen such a thing. Was it somehow catalyzed by the fruit fly corpses, or was that just a coincidence?
.


No, it's not rare. Try to store an opened bottle of vinegar for enough time, and I think it will happen most of the time, if not all the time. You probably usually use your vinegar too quickly for this to happen.

And I don't believe insects can have anything to do with it.

Fridgemagnet
11-21-2005, 01:19 PM
And I don't believe insects can have anything to do with it.
They don't. I recall the hermetically sealed sachets of vinegar in a large company canteen sometimes containing some vinegar snot, and soon developed a culture of condiment-wariness among the staff. Prospective vinegar users would hold the sachets up to the light (a bit like egg 'candling') to check before opening. I told a colleague about mother-of-vinegar, and he thought I was taking the piss until he Googled it.

Does anyone know if mother of vinegar bears any relation to the symbiotic organism that is kombucha? It's a similar slimy pancake that lives on tea and sugar. And how did these strange beasts get discovered? Kombucha cultures are started with a chunk of an existing kombucha culture, and I'm pretty sure they don't exist in nature, unless there's some strange land where pools of sterile sweet tea are abundant.

Chronos
11-21-2005, 02:26 PM
If you kept it, you could have used it to make your own vinegar. But you should be able to buy it as well.You can also use it to make vinegar pie. Yes, I've had it, but it's rather unremarkable.