When I am making banana vinegar following this recipe, often times material will float to the surface. The material will grow in to what is called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), often also called the ‘mother’ of vinegar. These SCOBY take the form of thick, impenetrable, slimy disks that typically float on the surface.
Even though this material ‘rots’ a little bit, mostly what is happening is fermentation rather than putrefaction which can be detected by observing the (perhaps) pleasant smell versus a repulsive putrid smell. The microbes will slowly be digesting the material into alcohol and then vinegar over a 2-3 month process. The microbes associate with fermentation are often compatible with human health, while the microbes of putrefaction often are pathogenic and disease oriented in nature.
Placing a breathable lid such as a cloth over the container opening will keep bugs out preventing further contamination.
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