Some more vinegar questions....answered:
Do you remove vinegar from the top and place into another bottle?
Actually, you remove vinegar from the bottom. Once you start growing your own vinegar, a nice healthy mother will float on top of it. When your vessel starts getting too full, or your vinegar tastes like it is ready, stick your hand in there and lift out the mother and place it in another bowl. I used to try to use a strainer spoon to do this, because it does look kind of gross, and feels a little strange, but your hand is a better tool for the job. The mother will have several layers. Once it starts getting too big, you should peel off a few of the layers and give them away. I put the vinegar in an old wine bottle with a whiskey pour spout on for use. Occasionally, vinegar mother will start growing in my vinegar bottle, too. (cloudy stuff that floats on the top). That's okay, consuming it won't hurt you. In fact, it's healthy - consider it "probiotics". I have never grown a big blob in my vinegar bottle - I think it probably doesn't get enough air and it isn't dark enough to grow that big. Put your mother back in the vinegar making vessel (I use a small crock) and add more wine and you're ready to make more vinegar. Sometimes, when I have too much vnegar, I have to start giving it away to friends and neighbors.
How much wine can you treat at once? I have a couple of bottles I want to get rid of.
I never have done a whole bottle at once, but if I had a whole bottle, I'd probably only use a couple cups to start and then save the rest of the bottle to add to it weekly.
What kind of wine works best?
I think fruity sweet tasting wines work out great, but any kind will work. I find that after the holidays, I often have sweet wines left over because my relatives prefer those kind over the dry wine I prefer, so I will use that in my vinegar crock. But I mix wines up all the time - I don't stick to one type. This year, I might try to make an exclusive cranberry wine vinegar for the holidays. (Note to self: I better get started asap)
How long does it take to make vinegar?
A couple weeks, at least. I just started some a couple weeks ago, and I might taste it to see how it's doing this weekend. Even when it is done, if I don't have any room to put more vinegar in my vinegar bottle, I will just keep adding more wine. You really can't over do it, but the mother will die off if it doesn't get any more wine to eat. Just keep adding wine to already complete vinegar until you need more vinegar in your vinegar bottle.
How do you know if you killed off your vinegar mother?
I've killed off many a vinegar mother - sometimes out of neglect because I forgot to feed it more wine and and once because I tried a ceramic lidded container and it wasn't getting enough air. I think vinegar needs darkness, too, but am not sure that's a fact. So I always keep mine in an opaque vessel. First sign it's dead is that the mother is not floating at the top. Secondly, it doesn't smell vinegary anymore - sometimes it takes on the smell of acetone. When that happens, the vinegar won't taste good, so just throw out the whole thing, sanitize your vessel with bleach water and start over with some more Braggs and some wine.