Thursday, July 4, 2013

Quiet Holiday

It was once again a busy week, with lots of ups and downs.

On the one hand, after hitting a mental block on the Gulag project, I was able to let my mushy brain rest, get good insights from my collaborator, and the end result is, we're off and running again.

Or we will be.  Tomorrow.

This is one of the few years in recent history when I don't have some kind of small July 4th plan--a party to go to, fireworks to see, a friend to visit.  And that's a good thing.

Yesterday, I was awakened out of a sound sleep at 4:30 a.m. by a sudden emergency involving one of my cats--my sweet, shy little girl.  I spent the next 2 hours debating whether to take her to an emergency clinic (after the initial crisis, she seemed okay), the following third hour on the phone with my best friend, getting moral support, and the remaining two hours waiting for the appointment with the vet.

It was a long 6 hours, needless to say.

But the good news is, she's okay, and will be even more okay in a few days.  I have the joy of single-handedly administering liquid antibiotics to a cat (it should be an Olympic sport) and taking care of her rapidly healing wound.

We all collapsed last night.  Because of course, my other cat was equally traumatized by it all.  Given the frequency with which he has taken to hiding under the couch on a whim, I think he keeps thinking he's next.

Let's hope not.

So I've decided the quiet holiday is a blessing in disguise.  I'm taking advantage of the peace and quiet and heat to try to catch up on the reading I've fallen behind on.  When I finally manage to do that, I'll actually have time to think about things to blog about.

It's been a busy first few weeks of summer.

I have two little projects under way as well: I'm going to attempt to make my own mascara (since as everyone knows, I seriously dislike cosmetic companies).

And I'm in the process of making my own mother.  For apple cider vinegar that is.

To make vinegar, you have to have something that, in the bread-making world, is known as "starter."  For some reason, vinegarians  (I just made that word up) refer to it as "the mother."

Actually, not "for some reason": it makes perfect sense.  It's the entity that "gives birth" to your vinegar--that creates it.

I suspect they call it "mother" in a desperate attempt to create some kind of bonding experience between you and the "mom," because quite frankly, it is simply a slab of glop.  Cellulose and acetic acid form on fermenting alcohol and... voila!


Isn't it lovely?  That's "Mother."

Yup.  Glop.

So anyway, you can make your own apple cider vinegar if you add sugar to leftover apple cores and peels (preferably organic, so there's no wax or pesticide), cover them with water, and let the whole mixture sit in a warm (70 degree), dark place.

And sit.  And sit.

In about a week, yeast will form and the mixture will begin to ferment.  Mold will also begin to form, so you should scrape that off.  But it's okay: it's just mold.  Think of it as "more glop."

You then strain the apple peels and cores out of the mixture, put it in a canning jar, cover it with cheesecloth (the yeast needs oxygen to "breathe"), and wait a few more weeks while the yeast consumes all of the available sugar in the mixture.

Over time, "the mother" will form and you can scoop this out and use it to speed up the vinegar-making process with the next batch.

Or, if you want to do this while the weather is warm in your basement, like I did, you can take a shortcut.  Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar is unpasteurized, so if you bring it home and let it sit, a "mother" will form.  I poured a bottle of Braggs into a quart canning jar, added fresh apple cider, covered it with cheesecloth, and, wouldn't you know it, I've got glop.

Pretty cool.  Why didn't we do stuff like this in high school chemistry class?  Make cider, talk about the ph level of hair, examine the chemical processes behind soap-making?  I think more people would have found it interesting if we had.

Have a Happy 4th, everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."