Revisiting vinegar: Curing “nail polish remover” taint
A while back, my homemade vinegar died an ignominious death. I’m not sure why, though I suspect excess free sulphur in one of the wines I used. All I know is that, at a certain point, it stopped growing a cellulose mother, smelled like a mix of vinegar and wine instead of pure vinegar, and stayed that way. So I dumped it and moved on to other things.
A month ago, I started another batch, using the same technique as before. Everything was going fine, until the day I checked on it and was hit with an aroma that every vinegar-maker fears: ethyl acetate. My original vinegar-making inspiration, an article in Art of Eating No. 68, suggested that when this “nail polish remover” smell crops up, the only solution is to toss the batch.
But fortunately, I had also read the proposed cure in the book Lost Arts, as well as Derrick Schneider’s thorough exploration of it: aeration. So I carefully removed the mother, and whipped it thoroughly to incorporate some air. A few days later, it was back on track.