Where’s the Mother?

When Chad and I had gone to Kansas City last week, I needed to run by Whole Foods.  Chad needed some galangal which we can’t get locally and he wanted to know what I needed there.

Me:  All I need is apple cider vinegar.
Chad:  Can’t you get that at Wal-Mart.
Me:  I need some that has “the mother” in it.

Chad just looked at me and shook his head.  He’d never heard of that before!

Whole Foods used to have it in gallon jugs in one section but it wasn’t there so I walked over and asked a very nice lady who worked there.  She said  “Are you looking for the one that has the mother in it?”  Yes, I am!  You should have seen Chad’s face!

DSC07876Apple Cider Vinegar “With the Mother”!

I add it to the chickens’ water once a week.  It’s supposed to keep them from getting worms but who wants to talk about worms?  It’s also supposed to have all kinds of benefits for humans too but I’m just going to assume Dr. Pepper has those same benefits and forego driving vinegar in favor of drinking Dr. Pepper!



  1. 1

    Evelyn says

    Once I bought an entire gallon of apple cidar vinegar instead of apple juice – I didn’t READ the label – just looked at it, and it had an apple on it and was the right color for apple juice. My Mom had a good chuckle over that one and we had the apple cidar vinegar for a very long time! Haven’t heard of “the mother” part though.

    • 1.1

      Rose in MN says

      My daughter gives apple cider vinegar to their two horses along with the grain to keep the flies away. Has been their summertime ritual for past couple years. Just read about it also on the Bragg web site. In fact vinegar also benefits dogs.

  2. 4


    It’s like the yeast starter in a batch of sourdough. It’s clumpy and weird-looking, but without it, you don’t have vinegar. Most commercial vinegar has it all strained out.

  3. 5


    Yup…sorry to say I’d have looked at you just as strangely as Chad did…never heard of apple cider vinegar “with the mother”……..just how did it get to be called THAT?

    • 5.1


      Pat, it’s call the mother because it can make babies. 🙂

      I’m planning to make kombucha tea soon, and first you gotta make or get a mother. Then use the mother to make kombucha tea. And while that’s “brewing”, it can make another scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), which is a baby… which can become a mother and make babies of it’s own and on and on it goes. 🙂

      If you let your kombucha brew too long, it’ll take on a vinegar taste. So perhaps your chickens would like KT… but I’m not sure if you’ll forgive me for adding a new project to your list Judy! But your post made perfect sense to me!


  4. 6

    Donna in KS says

    So, DH and I sit here having a discussion about the ‘mother’ in vinegar….some of which has been quite humorous! But, what I really am curious about is what Chad wanted. galangal??? Yes, I followed your link, still wonder. What will he do with it?

  5. 7


    LOL Judy! Great story. And I’m with you on choosing Dr. Pepper over cider vinegar. How could anything with Dr. in its name be bad for you? (unless you’re a keyboard, that is.)

    Linda and Piwacket

  6. 8

    Julie H. says

    Like Jocelyn, I use Braggs Liquid Aminos too. It’s a much healthier version of soy sauce. I like to microwave an egg (break the yolk, put in a sprayed ramekin for about 44 seconds) then squirt it with Braggs and throw it on some whole wheat toast for a super fast, healthy breakfast.

    I’ve heard of growing your own mother. I may have done it accidentally once or twice. It’s along the lines of catching your own wild yeast.

    I haven’t heard of vinegar for the chickens. I think the way to prevent parasites is to keep them isolated from wild birds.

    Dr. Pepper ……..gotta be good.

  7. 9


    The “mother of vinegar” is a cellulose mat which is made by the acetobacters (vinegar bacteria) to keep them near to the top of the apple juice as it is turning into vinegar. The reason for this is that the reaction to turn into vinegar requires air, and without air the acetobacters die. So the acetobacters evolved this way of keeping themselves floating at the top of the solution by manufacturing their own cellulose.

    I suspect that it’s the acetobacters, rather than the cellulose mat which is the visible artefact, which is responsible for the benefits to be derived from “mother of vinegar”.

    If you get unpasteurised juice and leave it exposed to the air, you’re likely to catch yeasts from the air which will start it fermenting, but you’re also very likely to catch acetobacters. The vinegar reaction is probably going to win – when making alcoholic cider it is crucially important to exclude all air from the fermentation vessel for this reason.

    So you can probably just buy unpasteurised juice and let it “go off”. Alternatively, it’s quite likely that a small amount of “mother vinegar” like Bragg’s added to your juice will get the reaction started more quickly.

  8. 11

    Lurking Linda says

    Wow! I haven’t heard of the mother in vinegar for a very long time! My mom used to talk about it! I guess cause we don’t make our own vinegar any more, it’s a term that’s gone out of use! I am curious, like Donna, what is Chad going to do with the galangal? Looks like he might want to start his own naturalist practice–Dr. Chad?

  9. 12

    Lisa Stewart says

    I love that vinegar, you can buy it at Butler at Sandy’s Herb Shop. She carries the gallons or at least she did the last I bought.

  10. 13

    Sarahe4e says

    Judy I learn more on your blog than any other. You have the most interesting tidbits.

  11. 15

    Linda says

    If vinegar tasted as good as Dr. Pepper we’d all be drinking it. I understand apple cider vinegar is supposed to be beneficial for/against all sorts of things.

  12. 16

    carol c says

    ok I give-what is the MOTHER?

    I dotn really understand-dense I am.

    i wonder if it would work on cats? worms I mean, too-lol

    oh well getting them to drink it would be hard. It is actually 4 degrees cooler here, and I had to turn a fan off! I wish
    we had the weather other areas up north are mentioning.

  13. 17


    I love Bragg[s vinegar and liquid amino. I am going to try that microwave egg with the amino (better than soy, I think).
    But I don’t understand the galangal stuff. Do you use it like ginger, or is it something completely different. I use ginger for a tea when I am getting a cold. I just add honey to it when I drink it. I learn so much from this site.

  14. 18

    Lydia says

    I’ve heard of the mother in vinegar, but hadn’t heard about using it for preventing worms. That’s interesting. On the other hand, I’d never heard of feeding chickens yogurt, either!

    Like many of the other commenters here, I’m wondering what Chad’s using the galangal for — its alleged aphrodisiac properties?

  15. 19

    Carol says

    Thanks everyone for explaining what “the mother” in vinegar is. I just saw a program on The History Channel about the role of acetobacter in producing acids which help to create the Earth’s environment as we know it. I just love reading this blog.