Vinegar, which is an aqueous solution of at least 4% acetic acid, is the product ofthe oxidation of ethanol by the acetic acid bacteria, Acetobacter and Gluconobacter species. Acetic acid bacteria are strictly aerobic, Gram-negative rods, characterized by their ability to carry out a number of oxidations. They can tolerate high concentrations of acid as they oxidize alcohol to acetic acid (acetification).

Alcohol is commercially converted to vinegar using processes that provide readily available oxygen to hasten the oxidation reaction. The vinegar generator sprays alcohol onto loosely packed wood shavings that harbor a biofilm of acetic acid bacteria. As the alcohol trickles through the bacteria-coated shavings, it is oxidized to acetic acid. In principle, the vinegar generator operates much like the trickling filter used in waste-water treatment by providing a large surface area for aerobic metabolism. The submerged culture reactor is an enclosed system that continuously pumps small air bubbles into alcohol that has been inoculated with acetic acid bacteria. ■ trickling filter, p. 787 ■ biofilm, p. 104

Nester-Anderson-Roberts: V. Applied Microbiology 32. Food Microbiology © The McGraw-Hill

Microbiology, A Human Companies, 2003

Perspective, Fourth Edition

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