I screwed my courage to the sticking point today and tasted the foetid brew. Not pineappley. Not vinegary. Just washed-out, watery, and vaguely beery.
Here is a picture of the pineapple not-vinegar. In the background is the sink down which the not-vinegar is about to get dumped. In the foreground is a beadwork snail who will be the sole witness to the dumping.
“About time," says the beadwork snail. “To the sewers with that nasty crap.”
The experiment was a flop from start to finish. Its fruit-corpse odor never gave way to the clean vinegary tang I wanted. The white scum on the top and the thickening dregs of yeast on the bottom make it resemble nothing so much as... well, if I tell you, I’ll have violated my own comments policy. Maybe, instead of the kitchen sink, this should go down a porcelain drain in a different room.
You know that when even a pretend snail is talking smack about something, it’s time to cut your losses and move on.
4:54 PM, 20 May 2012
There are actually two installments today. Scroll down for the news at the three-week mark.
I skipped taking a picture at the four-week mark because it was just getting grosser and grosser in that jar. But at Week 5, I can't take it anymore. I no longer wish to pretend that the pink and white scum on top is a vinegar mother.
I skimmed off that nasty crap, strained out the solids, washed the jar, and put back the liquid. I don't anymore believe this is turning into vinegar, but I have little to lose and it's hard to shake the effects of the sunk cost fallacy. We'll give it more time.
4:56 PM, 6 May 2012:
After the Week 1 picture, I found a small plate to drop in there. At three weeks, the vinegar was growing a pink and white cap. I surmised the cap was made of mold, yeast, and/or bacteria. Does anyone know what a vinegar mother looks like?
Quite a bit of bubbling going on in there, too. A big old bubble of what can only be carbon dioxide was collecting under the plate:
11:41 AM, 22 April 2012:
At one week old, the proto-pineapple-vinegar is cloudy. It smells yeasty and sickly sweet. I had to fish some moldy pineapple bits off the top, and I failed to convince the rest of the pineapple to submerge. Maybe I can find a plate or something that will fit inside this jar.
Assessment: This is not fun yet, but it’s no skin off my nose. To be continued.
7:09 PM, 17 April 2012:
Diana Kennedy, one of my food heroes, writes in The Art of Mexican Cooking that I can and should try to make pineapple vinegar. That Mexican cooks make escabeche (lightly pickled things) in it. That a fair substitute is half wine vinegar and half rice vinegar, but it’s not quite right.
She says it takes six weeks or more but that it is well worth the wait. A likely story. We’ll just see about that.
This is actually my second attempt. The first time, I stuffed the pineapple and liquid into a half-gallon juice bottle with no headroom and then screwed on the cap. On the fifth day of fermentation, I opened the cap and most of the liquid fizzed up and out of the bottle. FAIL. So I got a better jar.
It occurs to me that, for a person acting all skeptical and dismissive, I am investing rather a lot of resources in this idea.
Peelings and core of 1 pineapple, plus some chunks of the good part
4 T brown sugar
1½ qt water
We mix it in a vessel. We set it in a sunny spot. We wait. Fizz happens, then stops happening. A viscous disc is to form, and then firm up, at the top of the jar. This is mother of vinegar and should be retrieved, then put in with the next batch to hasten the process. The other solids should be strained out and discarded. The liquid is supposedly the deliciousest thing ever.
I’ll keep you posted.