No, not your mama. Although your mother probably does create some magic in the kitchen, this mother, also called mycoderma in Latin, is a substance composed of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that develops on fermenting alcohol, which turns the alcohol into acetic acid. It is added to wine, cider, or other types of alcohol to produce vinegar.

Mothering is also applicable to sourdough bread, as sourdough starter is traditionally made with a small amount of old dough, saved from a prior batch, as well as yogurt.

Use today’s Word of the Day: Basic Refrigerator Pickling Recipe