Fermentation, to me, is a type of magic that can be explained with science. I have been creating unique fermentation experiments since I was a broke college student who would make their own booze to drink and share. About a decade later I have put hours of research and development into creating delicious drinks. My favorite fermentation to create would have to be honey-wine (mead). I have it down to a science of specific yeast nutrients I prefer to use and when to add them. Every once in a while I will attempt some wild fermentations aside from the standard mead making.
A year ago a friend told us about her prolific grape vine in her back yard. She said the grapes typically go to waste because no one harvests them. My wife and I decided to go gather as many grapes as we could to make some wine, because it had been a while since I had made grape wine. I thoroughly cleaned and sterilized my feet to stomp the grapes like they used to, this had always been a dream of mine to do. They were freezing cold and my feet went numb after a while. After doing all the stomping, straining, and sanitizing I transferred the liquid to a carboy to sit for a couple months to let the yeast eat the sugars and make some alcohol.
As a part-time homesteader, sometimes you start more projects than you can finish. Okay, most of the time. At this point I had some sourdough starters going, two other fermentations and countless gardens to tend. One of the most important elements of fermenting alcohol is letting the CO2 out without letting oxygen in, through the help of an airlock. Well, being distracted with other hobbies led me to forget to check the liquid in the airlock, which had fully evaporated. This ended up letting oxygen into the grape juice. Instead of dumping it all out and calling it a waste of time, I decided to make it into balsamic vinegar. I completely removed the airlock and let the fruit flies have at it. The natural yeast on the fruit flies helps the liquid turn to vinegar quicker, along with exposure to oxygen.
We are currently in the final year of the balsamic vinegar coming to life. After adding the oak chips we will have to wait another couple of years then boil it down a bit to get some nice thick oaky balsamic vinegar. I don’t know about you, but we love balsamic vinegar drizzle on our homemade pizza! I hope this article helps you realize solutions to your problems by looking at it from a different point of view. We really don’t have that much control of things that occur in life but we can learn to control how we react to them. Remember to practice non-attachment, to not be set on how outcomes should look. Go with the flow.
Written by: Scott Lawrence