Technology

Vinegar production requires: ethyl alcohol, or a liquid containing ethyl alcohol (such as wine or fruit wine), additional nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, minerals, trace elements, vitamins), drinking water, acetic acid bacteria, air and fermentation equipment.
Biological fermentation means that the alcohol converts into vinegar, or more precisely the ethanol oxidizes to acetaldehyde, which then converts into acetic acid, that is vinegar. The process is carried out by acetic acid bacteria provided sufficient oxygen is available.

(CH3CH2OH + O2 → CH3COOH + H2O)
The fermentation will continue until the alcohol content of the vinegar is sufficiently reduced. The bacteria can be further oxidize the resulting acetic acid to carbon dioxide and water, but this additional oxidation will only occur if there is no more alcohol in the liquid.

Numerous processes of vinegar-making are known:

Orleans method

Rapid-generator process – Schutzenbach method

Generator method

Submerged method

Orleans method

This method came from the French town and became famous. In this process the wine was poured into a standing wooden barrel, some air slits were made in the top of the barrels which were allowed to sit at room temperature for several months. Meanwhile the “mother of vinegar”, a jelly-like membrane develops on the surface of the wine. After this the vinegar master filtered off around one-tenth of the raw vinegar and topped it up with new wine. (Filtration happened when the barrels of wine became vinegar and the alcohol content decreased to under 1%.)

High quality vinegar could be produced by the Orleans method but, as it was very slow, improvement was needed. The next process is linked to Pasteur. Since development of vinegar begins on the surface he made new equipment with a larger surface, so larger quantities of vinegar could be produced.

Rapid-generator process – Schutzenbach method

Fermentation is done in a container that consists of two chambers. The larger chamber is packed with solid materials almost to the top (wood shaving, corncobs). The upper chamber is separated from the lower chamber by a screen. Air is injected and blown upward through the top. The fermenting liquids are distributed evenly over the top of the material and allowed to percolate through the material. The resulting liquid is then pumped back to the top and re-circulated until the alcohol content is reduced to 0.5 %. The vinegar is drawn off and fresh alcoholic solution is added. This method can be used for wine, indeed any alcoholic liquid.

Generator method

During the procedure the mash (or pulp) crosses the packing, filling with a large surface area (mostly beech wood chips), several times. The mash is pumped through the fermentation space (from the collection chamber to the other chamber) more than once, so it drips through the vinegar mother several times. Higher acid content can be achieved by this method.

Submerged method

Our products are made by this process which is used for large-scale vinegar production throughout the world. The method and the acetator used can make any type of vinegar.

The fastest and most effective method. The acetic acid bacteria are free in the liquid, not floating on the top. Nor are they not fixed to a carrying material. The vinegar culture, which has a high concentration of bacteria, is added directly to the raw material while oxygen is mixed into the liquid. A certain part of the vinegar in the vat is drawn off and then replaced with fresh raw material.

Wine vinegar is a living substance so careful cellar work must be carried out for its development and storage. Following the completion of the fermentation the vinegar has several undesirable qualities. A little cloudy, raw, strong in taste, the components are not yet in harmony and it is generally not enjoyable to consume. Both time and several indispensible wine treatments are necessary for the complete clearing and the development of the distinctive aromas.

The treatments are to aid and direct the development of the vinegar, so that a harmonious balance can develop with the best taste and fragrance. The maturation of the vinegar lasts from the start of fermentation to bottling, indeed it continues until consumption.

During fermentation certain materials can be removed through clarification and filtration. Later, during maturation, there is significant settling, but to ensure the vinegar is perfectly clear certain materials are necessary. These include bentonite and gelatine.

Following fermentation the raw vinegar needs a little time for the tastes to harmonise. This ageing period can range in time from a couple of weeks to several years. Generally vinegar makers use wooden barrels. They can be made of oak, but other woods are also suitable e.g. cherry, black locust, mulberry etc. The barrel wood type, the order of storage in the barrel and the maturation period are all specified for the original balsamic vinegar for example.

Other materials from the barrel dissolve into the vinegar that make it even more delicious and complex, thus increasing enjoyment for the consumer.

Our wine vinegars are matured in oak barrels and during this time a complete harmony develops. They can be aged for anything from a couple of months to several years. This way of maturing has a beneficial effect on the development of the taste and scents, as well as lending valuable flavours from the wood. The secondary aromas in the vinegar develop during ageing in wooden barrels.

We consciously choose barrels that have been used for maturing Tokaji Aszú for a couple of years. Thus the intensive wood aromas that are typical of new barrels have softened, replaced by the distinctive vanilla and citrus notes of Aszú.