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Jackfruit Cider?…We’ll See!

Fresh Jackfruit

Fresh Jackfruit

I recently aquired a free, big, fresh jackfruit. It involved a weird box of birthday prank presents from some teenage boys to my nephew. Yeah. Okay. Anyway, he wasn’t going to actually DO anything with it and offered it to me. I accepted it, not having any idea what to do with it…but I’m always up for a challenge.  You can read all about the challenges of preparing a ripe jackfruit here: https://mmmfoodies.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/jackfruit-what-you-need-to-know-before-you-buy-a-fresh-one/

So, after comtemplating for a day, I decided to use some of it for a cider experiment. The fruit isn’t juicy, so I decided to cook it in syrup first to break down the cells a little to start the process. I used 2 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water, brought it to a boil, added 2 pounds of fruit, and covered to return to the boil.

Making syrup...and prepared jackfruit

Making syrup…and prepared jackfruit

Stirred a couple of times as it cooked for five minutes.When the fruit was raw, it had an odd aroma and a flavor like banana plus pineapple/mango/peach? No acidity at all. I believe the cooking helped it all the way around.

Adding jackfruit to the syrup

Adding jackfruit to the syrup

While the fruit cooked, I prepared a 2 gallon fermentation bucket and added 2 crushed campden tablets and a teaspoon of pectic enzyme. Then I added a gallon of cold water and the fruit/syrup.

Stirring the fruit and other ingredients together in the fermentation bucket.

Stirring the fruit and other ingredients together in the fermentation bucket.

I checked the SG (Specific Gravity, an idicator of the potential alcohol) with my refractometer and got 1.02-ish. I added 3 more cups of sugar and a cup of honey (11 ounces), stirred to dissolve and checked again. This time, I got 1.083. As the fruit ferments, it may give up more sugar, so I’m good with an OG(Original Gravity…the starting point) of 1.083. I now have 24 hours to see what yeast I have on hand, and decide if I have something appropriate or if I need to go buy something different…and what. I was thinking of doing a mead, by the way, but I didn’t want to experiment with 6 pounds of honey, which would have cost at least $36 + tax. But I think it would be good. I believe that the relatively small amount of honey that I did include will enhance this recipe nicely.

Update: 6/3/15: I had a 1/2 envelope of a CY17  wine yeast from Vintner’s Harvest in the refrigerator…sounds appropriate, should be a good amount, and saved me a trip to the LHBS. It is supposed to work for meads and sweeter wines, so it should be okay for this project.

Pitching yeast in Jackfruit Cider

Pitching yeast in Jackfruit Cider

Update 6/5/15: I noticed the airlock had activity yesterday. Not aggressive, but regular. That continues today, so we will have something alcoholic eventually. Don’t know how it will taste…but there will be alcohol!

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I’m a Grandpa! (And General Update on Brews)

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Let’s just get this out of the way: Yes, I’m a Grandpa! My grandson was born on April 17, 2015 @11:23 p.m. and weighed in at 7 lbs 13 oz. I’m as proud as I can be!

Okay, back to brewing and fermenting stuff. Three things: Steinpilz Gose, Belgo Paleo Pale Ale, and kombucha.

The Steinpilz Gose has been in the bottles for a couple of weeks now an my friend picked up the rest for kegging  a little over a week ago. I have opened a bottle and tried it and she has tried it from the keg. Unfortunately, she does NOT like mushrooms, so it isn’t really her “thing”, but she said that it is “technically” good. Haha…I’ll take it. I think the bottled version needs more carbonation, but it is not bad. There’s not much aroma, but what I get is that German wheat beer smell with the earthiness from the mushrooms. The flavor is good…definitely has the German character. As for the gose style, I thing the tartness is good, but it could use just a little more salt. The earthy mushroom flavor is very present, but not overpowering. I look forward to trying the kegged version and getting some feedback from some more people (that like mushrooms, hopefully!).

Steinpilz Gose from the bottle after about 2 weeks.

Steinpilz Gose from the bottle after about 2 weeks.

Belgo Paleo. This has been an odd start. The home brew shop guy said the yeast, Safbrew Abbaye, is the one some brewers use for Belgian trippels and quads, so to not let it go crazy…maybe put it in my spare shower and run some cold water into the tub to lower the temperature a little. The first two days, the yeast ripped into the wort…it actually seemed finished after three days. Late at night on day 2, I replaced the blow-off tube with an airlock and moved the carboy to the shower and added water to the tub. The initial temps were around 70-72F. The tub water slowly leaked out over the course of a week. Last night, I took a sample for hydrometer testing and the temp was 68.5F. The thing is, the SG is 1.020 and it is supposed to get down to 1.009. I reached out to my online brewing friends and it was suggested that I should have increased the temperature after the first day or two…exactly opposite of the advice from the LHBS guy. *steam* I have brought the carboy back into the kitchen and need to check it in another week.

Belgo Paleo at S.G. 1.020

Belgo Paleo at S.G. 1.020

Kombucha…I have SCOBY’s to spare and plenty to share! The 1 gallon jars with spigots are working out great for draining off the ready-to-drink kombucha.

Fresh batch, ready to start fermenting.

Fresh batch, ready to start fermenting.

SCOBY Hotel

SCOBY Hotel

Fresh batch, ready to start fermenting.

Fresh batch, ready to start fermenting.

Now I can add the tea, sugar, and water back without having to remove the SCOBY and extra starter kombucha to start the next batch. I am on a fairly regular staggered schedule 2 batches fermenting and 1 batch in the fridge to drink.

In the fridge to drink.

In the fridge to drink.

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Brew Day Belgo Paleo

Ready to Brew!

Ready to Brew!

Brew Day! I’m actually writing this on the day after, but it was a long day. I had to help prepare for my older daughter’s baby shower and, after brewing and planting several things in the garden, I had to go help with the clean up. I was sore and tired last night!

First, I want to address the fact that I have had an ongoing problem with overcarbonation in several of my brews. Most have been darker beers…stout, porter, Scottish ale; but that may not necessarily have anything to do with it. I’ve tried backing down on priming sugar, extending the fermentation period, careful sanitizing procedures. I have been wondering if maybe the equipment I’m using or the bottles may need replacing or heavy duty cleaning, rather than rinsing and sanitizing. Before this brew, I soaked EVERYTHING in a solution of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda…carboy, buckets, utensils, hoses, siphon, airlocks and stoppers. Before I bottle, I will soak the bottles in the same solution, run them through the dishwasher (including heated drying cycle), and sanitizing. If this batch winds up overcarbing, I will have NO clue what to try next. Keeping my fingers crossed.

The recipe I brewed is a Belgian Pale Ale called Belgo Paleo and it sounds pretty good. It uses Green Bullet hops for buttering, Tettnang at 30 minutes and Saaz at 15 minutes and dry hop. The yeast is a packet of dry Safbrew Abbaye.

Pellet hops

Pellet hops

I followed my usual brew day procedures, with one exception: I used my new stainless steel wort chiller for the first time!

New stainless steel wort chiller

New stainless steel wort chiller

I didn’t have to buy 8 bags of ice this time! I set up the chiller with hoses and kept it in a bucket of sanitizer until ready to use. I put the chiller in the kettle for the last 15 minutes of the boil, to sanitize it.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to manage leak-proof connections and a little water sprayed into the wort. It was right after flame-out, and I’m hoping it didn’t ruin the batch. I wrapped the connection in paper towels and the dripping happened away from the kettle, instead of into it. The chiller worked like a champ and my wort was down to pitching temp in under twenty minutes.

Most difficult part of the day? Pouring the wort from the kettle (actually, a S/S stock pot) through a funnel into the glass carboy. Next time, I’ll use a siphon! Should have aerated it well, though! And it’s a good thing, because the oxygen tank I have connected to an aerating “stone” evidently had the valve knocked open somehow and the canister was empty.

Ready for fermentation to start.

Ready for fermentation to start.

So, pitched the yeast and put on the airlock. There was action late last night and I heard that the Abbaye yeast is aggressive, so I switch the airlock to a blow-off tube set-up …

After fermenting 24 hours.

After fermenting 24 hours.

Blow-off tube and wrapped to keep light out.

Blow-off tube and wrapped to keep light out.

…and wrapped the carboy with a blanket to keep out light. The wort chugged all day today and is doing well, I think. As of tonight, about 32 hours after pitching the yeast, the bubbling has slowed slightly to once every few seconds.

Update: Steinpilz Gose: my brewbuddy came by and got the balance of the gose into a keg and is going to force carbonate it. I’m going to stick a couple of bottles in the fridge and we’ll compare when ready. Looking forward to that!

 

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SCOBY Hotel: Occupied.

One batch in the fridge, two fermenting and SCOBY Hotel (front, lleft)

One batch in the fridge, two fermenting and a SCOBY Hotel (front, left).

I moved a batch of Kombucha to the refrigerator today. It was in a 1 gallon carboy, with a narrow opening. The SCOBY has become rather substantial, so it is difficult to remove. I wrestled with it a bit and managed to get it into a clean bowl and rinse it off. The was a small, sludgy SCOBY that I disposed of, along with bits and globs. I took a couple of nice healthy pieces and started my new batch. I added the rest of the SCOBY to a quart size canning jar with a little Kombucha and a sprinkle of sugar…viola! SCOBY Hotel! I covered the top with a double layer of coffee filters and screwed on the ring. I’ll refresh the liquid in the hotel every couple of weeks and add or remove SCOBYs as needed. (I have 3 in the hotel currently…I actually started it last week with SCOBY from the 1/2 green tea & 1/2 Earl Grey batch.) The SCOBY Hotel is kept at room temp, indefinitely, with regular refreshing.

I have one other batch in progress since 3/23. I tasted it and it definitely needs more time to ferment…still sweet and no tart. I might need to go ahead and get a third batch into rotation, so that the supply stays steady. The good news is that I have drastically cut down on my soda consumption.

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Finally Bottled Bulk Aged Cider

Sample of cider...finally bottled!

Sample of cider…finally bottled!

I needed to free up some room in our refrigerator, so I finally bottled the cider that I made last Fall…September? October? Anyway, it bulk aged in 1/2 gallon carboys for months and I moved them into refrigeration when they started getting some carb/pressure in the carboys. I drank a few glasses, but it was kind of dry and boozie. It was made from a mix of crab apples, pears, Ginger Gold apples and Pink Cripps apples. I would have to go back and look in my notes to see what additional fermentables I added, but I do know that I bumped the OG up to 1.097 initially. The SG at bulk aging was 0.993, so the ABV was 13.65% at that point.

Once I combined all the 1/2 gallon jugs into a bottling bucket, I added a 1/2 cup of honey, dissolved in 1 cup of hot water. The OG is 1.000 and I’m not sure if that means the ABV went down and/or whether it will go up again as it carbs. Either way, it WILL be strong! I had enough left in the bottling bucket to taste and it is much nicer with a little sweetness. I hope that stays.

After bottling, I had 18 bottles and 1 tester that basically was the hydrometer sample, topped off with cider from the bottling bucket. In a couple days, I’ll check to see if I need to pasteurize. Glad to finally have this batch bottled!

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Quick Update on Mixed Fruit Cider

Mixed fruit cider, topped off. Ready for some time to rest.

Mixed fruit cider, topped off. Ready for some time to rest.

The mixed fruit cider looked like it was ready to rack off the last of the sediment…may get a tiny bit more over the next few months, while it bulk ages, but it should be pretty much done. I topped off with a little Culligan bottled water. It didn’t need much, but I didn’t want to leave much headspace in the carboy, for oxidation. Because the racking created a little oxygenation, I went ahead and put an airlock back on, for now.

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Update Kombucha and Fruit Cider/Wine

Kombucha getting started.

Kombucha getting started.

Following up on the two little side fermentation projects that I have going on: kombucha and a mixed fruit cider/wine thing….

First, on the kombucha, I have reached out to some folks online regarding my progress, because I don’t really know how this is supposed to look. I’m using 1 gallon of green tea, a cup of sugar, and the dregs from a bottle of kombucha soda. After a couple of days, I have some bubbles around the perimeter of the carboy, a small “island” in the middle, and a few floaters that appear to be dark green and hang down like a “beard”.

perimeter bubbles and "beard" floater.

perimeter bubbles and “beard” floater.

There’s a little more sediment at the bottom than I started with, too. The little floaters are my biggest concern…all the pictures that I’ve seen online show the “SCOBY” (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) are off-white to tan in color. A little further research shows the floaters to be common…need to watch out for mold growing on top. That would be mean throwing out the batch. Also, it sounds like I may need to make a “baby” SCOBY and start another batch to grow a “mother” SCOBY? It’s a learning experience, that’s for sure!

Moving on to my mixed fruit little experiment: I racked the juice and it was still pretty thick on the bottom. After racking, I have just a little under a gallon.

Ready for first racking.

Ready for first racking.

I may only get a half gallon by the time this batch is racked and aged enough. So, I took some juice from the dregs and strained it to use for a hydrometer sample…I hope any “body” in the juice isn’t affecting the hydrometer’s measurement.

Taking hydrometer and temperature reading.

Taking hydrometer and temperature reading.

The hydrometer reading is 0.998 at 70F, so that is 0.999 corrected. With the OG of 1.073, that puts it at 9.71% ABV. It’s still on the border between cider and wine…not sure what will end up being. (Other than delicious, I hope!)

Update 1/19/15:

Racking with a little mesh bag on siphon.

Racking with a little mesh bag on siphon.

Racked the mixed fruit cider to a 1 gallon glass carboy. I strained the dregs and took a hydrometer reading of 0.996@69F.

Transferring

Transferring

I’m thinking I may top off with Culligan bottled water next time I rack, so I have a gallon. Currently, it’s a little under a gallon…maybe 10% short? Looks good though and over 9% ABV, so a top-off won’t hurt it.

A little under a gallon of mixed fruit cider.

A little under a gallon of mixed fruit cider.

The Kombucha is coming along…looks like a pretty decent skin is forming…almost covering the surface. Now.let’s see if it thickens. The jug has a small neck, so I’ll need to figure out removing the SCOBY and find a new, more appropriate container.

Early SCOBY signs! Day 11.

Early SCOBY signs! Day 11.

Probably one of those 1 gallonlemonade/iced tea dispensers with the spigot. The smell is a little tangy…haven’t attempted a taste yet. I’m not sure whether this first batch is supposed to be drinkable or not. We’ll see when I remove the SCOBY…somehow.

Update 2/24/15:  Okay, so, I’ve been been saving some of a hydrometer sample of the mixed fruit cider, in the refrigerator. I’ve been taking a little sip every couple of days. It has settled nicely and the flavor is not agressive, but it IS distinct from straight apple cider. The jug is looking good…still needs more clearing. I’ll let it go another week and rack it onto just enough clean water to top it off…should only take about 2-3 cups.

Now for the kombucha: pretty much “Wow”. I sanitized a turkey baster to retrieve a sample. (I need a new wine thief!) I had  to nudge the SCOBY aside…it is definitely holding together as a solid raft. I may go ahead and go to the next batch soon! The sample that I removed was tart and tasted “lemony”. I’m not a huge tea fan, but this stuff is really good! Not much tea flavor…just a little. I’m glad I used green tea. So, thumbs up! Let’s see if it will continue with the next round.

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