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I'm trying to make white wine vinegar using the traditional method - leaving an open jar with water-wine solution in a warm place (~7% alcohol content in the mixture) and waiting for the right bacteria to make their way inside.

At the moment I have the jar covered with a paper towel held by a rubber band. I assumed it wouldn't be a problem for bacteria to get through and I need something to prevent dust and other particulate from getting into the batch (especially cat hair, I keep finding them everywhere). Is this setup fine for making wild vinegar, or should I uncover it to make it easier for bacteria to find their way inside? It can take a very long time for first colonies to form using this method, I don't want to wait a month just to find out I was doing it wrong.

As a side-note, the wine bottle I used for making this vinegar makes a "pop" sound every time I open it. Does it mean that I already introduced the right alcohol-eating bacteria into it? I covered it with an old cork I had laying on the counter, because the one it came with was so swollen, I couldn't push it back inside - that might have been a source of bacteria.

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  • I recall using cheesecloth, which is far more open than a typical paper towel is, while still blocking bulk contaminants, when I made cider vinegar decades ago.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 11, 2022 at 1:09
  • @Ecnerwal at the moment I have another, much smaller mixture and left it uncovered in case it starts earlier - then I can just transplant the mother and discard all the junk (I found a dead fly in it today, not very appetizing). Using a few layers of muslin instead of paper towel might be a good idea. I don't know why cheesecloth is so ubiquitous in cooking in English-speaking internet, because for years I had no idea where could I even buy it in my country and still don't know. Never seen it in any store. Nov 11, 2022 at 18:46

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