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Jackie Clay

Q and A: making cheese, rum vinegar, and sewing a zipper

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Making cheese

When making Chevre Cheese from goats’ milk you instruct: Warm milk to 80 degrees by setting pot in a sink full of hot water. Stir in buttermilk; mix well. Add 2 Tbsp of diluted rennet. Stir well and cover. Let set at room temp for 24 hours or a little longer. It should look like thick yogurt. Drain curd thru a clean old pillowcase or piece of clean sheet; cheesecloth won’t work; you’ll lose a lot of cheese. Line a colander with this and pour curds slowly into center. Hang to drain 6-8 hours or til dripping stops. Am I to drain the curds at room temperature as well as the 24 hours after adding the rennet?

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

No, you only drain the curds once and that’s after you add the buttermilk and rennet and let it set for 24 hours or longer. — Jackie

Rum vinegar

Since finding you, your column plus the magazine boy the adventures in my life seem to keep coming. My husband does nothing but laugh at the new things that I am trying however he is a willing guinea pig so I guess it works out. My latest one was not something I was looking for, but since it presented itself I figure I better run with it. In doing a lot of research for this one and no answers I am hoping you can get me further down this road. I was given “Rum Vinegar” by a friend and would like to know if you have any suggestions on how to make the “mother” so that I can continue to make this. I would go back to my friend who made this originally but as he tells me something of an accident. I can find scads of things to do with it but not how to replicate it. Any suggestions? or how too’s?

Jill Lane
Salt Lake City, Utah

I have never even heard of rum vinegar, let alone know how to make it. Any readers out there have any help for Jill? — Jackie

Sewing in a zipper

My wife replaced a broken plastic zipper on a winter coat and now one side of the zipper fits the coat and the other side is an inch too long, sticking up and hitting my throat. The “bad” side is not bunched up. Why did this happen and how does she fix it?

Alan Wuertenberg
Salisbury, Maryland

It’s probable that the side that got too long was pulled on while sewing, effectively stretching that side. I’d suggest ripping the stitching on that long side then zipping the zipper together to see if it now fits properly. If so, pin the loose side in place and gently baste it in to hold it firmly. Then use a sewing machine with a zipper foot (if you don’t have one, do the best you can with a regular foot), sew the zipper firmly in place taking care not to pull it while sewing. Hopefully it will now fit. — Jackie

5 Responses to “Q and A: making cheese, rum vinegar, and sewing a zipper”

  1. Ellendra Says:

    You can make any kind of vinegar by making wine or liquor, then leaving it open. The organisms responsible for the conversion are in the air, much like wild yeasts are, they just need to be caught :)

  2. Susan Says:

    For in depth information on fermentation – vinegar, cheese, sauerkraut, and much much more – check out the book ‘The Art of Fermentation’ by Sandor Katz. I just got this book from my library and I’m finding it very interesting and helpful. Of course Jackie’s canning book is great, too. I got it for the pressure canning (which I’m still trying to find the nerve and time to try) but I’m using it a lot for everything else.

  3. Suzy (BamaSuzy) Says:

    There’s some good videos on YouTube about installing zippers if they want to watch….I learned things there and I’ve been sewing for about 53 years!

  4. Mike B Says:

    We’ve been making Rum in my organic Chemistry class. I keep a blog of each of my classes so I recently posted a blog on the fermentation part (step 1). This is the major step in creating the vinegar as well.

    Once you’ve made the alcohol (before distillation), you simply add Acetobacter aceti (a natural bacteria found in nature). This bacteria will convert alcohol into vinegar. You can do it with Rum, Wine, Beer, etc. The optimal range for vinegar is an alcohol content between 9 and 12% (over 15% alcohol will kill the bacteria).
    Check my blog for the entire process.

  5. Phil Says:

    You can leave a bottle of wine or whatever open in the hope that the right bacteria will find their way in. From what I’ve read, it may work or it may not. It’s true that the required bacteria are in the air but to increase your chances and speed the process up somewhat use a bit of unpasturised raw vinegar. There are several brands out there but Bragg apple cider vinegar seems to be the most popular. As it is unpasturised, it still contains the living culture. I have done this at home with good results. I diluted some vodka down to about 6% alcohol. I had about 2 litres of this 6% soloution. To that i added a slosh of raw apple cider vinegar, covered it in cheese cloth and put it in a dark cupboard. It’s important to note that you must use a glass, stainless steel or ceramic vessel to do this in, as anything else could taint the vinegar and even potentially poison you. Another note is that the bacteria don’t like light, hence the dark cupboard and it needs oxygen, so don’t seal the jar and use cheesecloth to keep the insects out. I like using glass as I can easily see what is going on within. A by product of the reaction is a cellulose film forming, called the mother. That is perfectly normal, just try not to disturb it. If it falls to the bottom just pull it out with clean hands. It can then be used to start the next batch off. By doing this with vodka I get just a basic white vinegar. I then use that as a plant to start off more exotic vinegars. I’m currently in the process of making vinegar from stout, pale ale and earl grey tea with vodka added. Not sure what the tea will be like but it’s an experiment. Hope this can help.

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