I was happy with the "mother of vinegar" from a wine shop when I lived in Virginia. Different ones for different types of vinegar. If you can find the type of vinegar you want at a health food store, it may be more likely to have some "mother" settled on the bottom of the bottle. I have used that in the past as well. Have not made vinegar in several years.
http://www.vinegarman.com/VinegarMaking.shtml found this...perhaps something useful...
"A starter culture. Notice I said "starter culture". Don't make a big deal about getting a "mother", it will probably ruin otherwise good vinegar. What you need are the bacteria which make vinegar. Check the home brew stores or pick up a bottle of unpasturized, unfiltered vinegar. I have had great success with Braggs Apple cider vinegar. The vinegar in the culture keeps out the other molds and bacteria until the vinegar bacteria have had a chance to take firm control of the juice."
Half the time I have ever tried to make wine, I have ended up making vinegar. Now if I really want to make vinegar, I start with a bottle of Bragg's... but for the specialty vinegars I make, I order champagne vinegar by the case (four one-gallon bottles). Do NOT use white vinegar... it is a chemical concoction more than a fermented vinegar.
Cathy, couldn't you just ferment barley for malt vinegar?
Got it !!!!
Someone suggested Briggs cidar vinegar which is not cooked and has active culture or mother in it. I added Guinnes Ale ( no hopps) and it has a mother growing on the top. It smells great. I think I have to wait a while for it to fully develope. Some one from Dave's garden forums ( I post vinegar on a bunch) gave a way to test the acity. I am thrilled.
Love talking with you all. Cathy
Other forums I posted on- frugal living, sustainable alternatives, heathy living, home steading, recipes.
cfrie...thanks...I'll have to try that. Been looking at malt vinegar for a condiment base and making it is quite a project. There are only a few commerical sources and only one major one in the USA that I've found (Heinz). A few brew pubs make it but they are very careful to keep the vinegar away from their beers and ales. A brewmaster from the UK outlined the procedure on a brewing forum but warned others that if they were looking for a profitable add-on line to not get their hopes up (doesn't matter to me, I just want the malt vinegar).