Hubby asked me one morning if the homemade vinegar is finished yet, because it smells. I'd been noticing the very vinegar-y smell as I walked by, and had decided it was ready to strain and cover even before he asked.
Then he asked me what each layer is, especially that stuff on top. He thought it might be mold, or yeast, or something. It's mother-of-vinegar, the good stuff. The layer of stuff on the bottom is fruit mush that went through the strainer holes when I strained the fruit out a few weeks ago. Setting on top of the mush is a curled-up "piece of stuff" - that's the piece of mother-of-vinegar that I put in the jar several weeks ago. The layer on top is new mother.
I moved the thick gelatinous layer of new mother to a pint jar.
Then I poured the rest through a muslin-lined strainer into a quart jar. I gave the mush to the chickens. It will take the vinegar a few days to settle and become clear. Not even muslin will strain out all the sediment.
I poured enough vinegar into the pint jar to cover the mother-of-vinegar so I can use it in the future as a starter for another batch. (After filling the quart jar, I added more to this pint jar and nearly filled it.)
ADDED NOTE: Two weeks later, both the quart jar of vinegar and the pint jar of mother-of-vinegar covered with vinegar have grown a new layer of mother on top. It's amazing: this batch was so easy and it's as though it won't stop growing! Once it consumes all of the sugar, though, the new layer of mother will sink to the bottom of the jar.
And there you have it: homemade vinegar. Did you know you could do it? Did you know it was that easy? Give it a try!