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Blueberry-Muscadine Wine, Adjustments and Yeast

24 hours after Campden Tablets added. Sugar, water, blueberries and muscadines.

24 hours after Campden Tablets added. Sugar, water, blueberries and muscadines.

Day 2 for the Blueberry-Muscadine Wine project…time to check the OG(Original Gravity), check the acid, add the yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, and pitch the yeast. I started with the refractometer and got a couple different readings from the sample I took after stirring the must. (Of course, I sanitized everything that touched the must). Anyway, I felt like I was at the 1.090 range,but wasn’t confident, so I took a larger sample to check with the hydrometer later.

Sample for testing acid and getting hydrometer reading.

Sample for testing acid and getting hydrometer reading.

From the sample, I removed 3ml to test the acid. Following the instructions for the acid test kit, it looks like I was at a reading of 0.225; shooting for the range between 0.55 and 0.65. The recipe called for 2-1/2 teaspoons of the acid blend, but I needed the full 2 ounces that I purchased to get to 0.565. At the minimum of the range, but okay. I also added 2-1/2 teaspoons of pectic enzyme and 3 teaspoons of yeast nutrient. Added to the must and stirred in. Then I sanitized the yeast packet and scissors, and pitched the yeast, gently stirring it in.

I resealed the fermentation bucket and cleaned my utensils. Next, I used the rest of my sample to take an OG reading with a hydrometer. It looks like I have a reading of 1.110 at 71.6F, which adjusts for temperature (hydrometer calibrated to 60F) to OG 1.111.

Hydrometer reading.

Hydrometer reading.

I guess I should not have added all the sugar at once, so this is going to be a higher alcohol wine than I wanted, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I just hope it tastes good! Montrachet yeast is supposed to have an alcohol tolerance of 13%, so if my FG comes in around 1.01-ish, it should be stopping anyway. (The color is good. The unfermented product is so sweet, it’s hard to get a real feel for flavor…but I think it will be good.)

***Update 8/27/15: Continuing to stir every evening, to break up the fruit floating at the top and submerge it all. Getting a nice steady action in the airlock. All appears to be on track. Obviously, it’s still extremely sweet; however, a small sip does have a little more fruit flavor than before, and a little taste of the fermentation.

After stirring down the fruit.

After stirring down the fruit.

Before stirring the floating fruit.

Before stirring the floating fruit.

Update 8/29/15: Stirred down the fruit in the fermentation bucket and noted that the appearance is pretty much the same as the above photos. I wonder if the blueberries that didn’t get crushed are fermenting? They don’t seem to be changing color…hmmm. The sample spoonful definitely has a flavor that has dropped in sweetness another notch.

Update 8/29/15: Continuing to convert sugar to alcohol…definitely a little more tannic feel in the mouth, more alcohol, and drier. I continue to note that the wine is still sweet, but what a difference! I like where this is going…at least, so far.

Again, before stirring down the fruit.

Again, before stirring down the fruit.

 

After stirring down the fruit.

After stirring down the fruit.

Sample for flavor and color.

Update 9/2/2015: Now tasting more like wine and less like sweet, fermenting juice. Photos aren’t showing any real difference, but the flavor is telling the tale!

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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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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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Tropical Fruit Cider/Mead?

I had some fruit that I needed to use before it was no longer suitable for anything but compost. I bought a couple of star fruits (carombola) and a mango on markdown at the grocery store and I had a couple of pears that were getting overripe. Also on hand were 3 large apples…Gala, I think. Might have been Fuji. I ran all the fruit through my juicer and added the juice of about 1/2 a lime and a dribble of bottled lemon juice, just to keep it all from turning brown. This all equalled about a half gallon of pretty thick juice. So, I added enough water to bring the volume up to a little over a gallon and the SG reading on the refractometer was about 1.022. To bump that up, I added about 12 oz honey mixed with hot water to dissolve. That brought the SG up to about 1.052. I finally settled for an OG of 1.073 after adding 2 cups of white sugar.

I’m in kind of a gray area between cider and melomel (fruit mead). The mix of honey and sugar, plus the relatively low alcohol potential, probably pushes it more toward cider. I also added 1/2 tsp  of pectic enzyme, 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient, and 1 crushed campden tablet. This will sit for 24 hours and then I’ll have to decide what yeast to pitch. Need to think about that one.  The final starting volume looks like approximately 1-1/3 gallons. I’m assuming that I’ll wind up bottling a little under a gallon when finished. I didn’t take any pictures yet…just jumped into it. I’ll snap some tomorrow when I pitch the yeast.

24 hours after adding nutrient, pectic enzyme and Campden tablet.

24 hours after adding nutrient, pectic enzyme and Campden tablet.

Update: Looked over the available yeast at the local home brew shop and decided to try a yeast made by Vintner’s Harvest, simply called Premium Wine Yeast CY17.

C17 Premium Wine Yeast

CY17 Premium Wine Yeast

It says “For full bodied, rich fruity aromatic white/blush and dessert wines. Excellent strain for white country fruit & flower wines.” It does say that it is a slow fermenter, but I’m in no rush. Pitched the yeast early this afternoon…no sign of airlock activity as of 7:45 pm.

6:40 pm  Earlier today, I noticed a slow bubble action in the airlock. This yeast is said to be a slow fermentor…I guess so. It’s definitely not taking off with a rhino fart aggressiveness…but it’s going!

2/10/15 Airlock action seems to have stopped after about 7 days…in fact, may have ceased a day or two ago. There’s no rush, but when I get around to it, I’m going to do the first racking.

 

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Day 144 Muscadine Wine

Crushing foraged wild grapes.

Crushing foraged wild grapes.

I foraged a little over four pounds of wild muscadine grapes yesterday. I have decided to try my hand at wine making this year, instead of jelly…at least with this first round. After a little research on the internet, I am combining a couple of different recipes to adapt to what I have to work with. I have put together 2 quarts of crushed muscadine grapes, skins and all.

Crushed grapes.

Crushed grapes.

DSC05332

I am going to have to run to the home brew shop for some supplies…a mesh bag and yeast. I may need more sugar from the grocery store. The plan is to combine the fruit (in mesh bag) with 6 quarts of water in a 2 gallon fermentation bucket, add enough sugar syrup to boost the SG to at least 1.090 and then add 2 crushed campden tablets, 1/2 t. pectic enzyme (scant), and 2 t. yeast nutrient. That will be covered with cheesecloth and sit for 24 hours. I guess I’m not supposed to seal the bucket yet, as the campden tablets cause a sulfur gas to be released and it needs to be allowed to dissipate. Yeast is to be pitched tomorrow…instructions say to leave covered with cheesecloth again, for 5 to 7 days, stirring daily. After that, it is strained and sealed with an airlock in place and given around 6 weeks to ferment out. Then it gets racked, probably a few times, to clear. Then it gets bottled and ages for at least two years! I’ll probably bottle in beer bombers…I don’t anticipate making enough wine to justify buying a corker and wine bottles/corks. I haven’t seen anyone express concerns with beer bottles. I might want to use the special oxygen absorbing caps, to reduce the risk of oxidation.

So far, I have boiled 3 cups of sugar with enough water to dissolve it…boiled until clear and set aside to cool…we’ll see if that’s enough to get me to 1.090 or better. The first quart of grapes that I crushed have a natural SG of about 1.048, according to my spectrometer. I’ll discuss yeast at the brew shop. The most likely candidates are Champagne yeast or Montrachet, but I’m open to suggestions.

Okay, after a trip to the brew shop and the grocery store, I was ready to proceed. I got a mesh bag, a packet of Montrachet yeast and a 10 pound bag of sugar. I sanitized the bag and a string and added the grape skins/pulp/juice to the bucket and tied off the bag.

Crushed grapes in the bag.

Crushed grapes in the bag.

Next I added the sugar syrup that I had prepared and I was still way low on the SG. I also realized that I was running out of room in the 2 gallon bucket, so I prepared a 5 gallon bottling bucket and transferred the grape mixture into it. Then, I weighed out five pounds of sugar and added enough water for it to dissolve into and brought that to a boil, removed it from the heat.

Making sugar syrup

Making sugar syrup

I tried adding in a couple of steps and it wasn’t getting close to SG 1.090 very quickly…but the final addition bumped it up to OG 1.113…oops. Oh well. And my volume is up to almost three gallons…I probably should add more grapes, but I’m out.

Volume at almost 3 gallons. Need to find more grapes? We'll see if I get a chance to pick more.

Volume at almost 3 gallons. Need to find more grapes? We’ll see if I get a chance to pick more.

I’ll see what it looks like later…I could add more grapes and another campden tablet tomorrow. That would push back the yeast pitch a day, but in a minimum 2 year process, another day is nothing and could make a huge difference in the finished product. Anyway, I put the lid on and sealed it and popped on an airlock. The brew shop guy thought it would be fine to seal and airlock the bucket rather than do the covering with cheesecloth thing…just seemed more risky.

Ginger beer note: the SG dropped to 1.057, so it’s moving…slowly. I thought all the Champagne yeast that I added to it would start it really chugging. It’s popping the airlock about every 10 seconds, but it’s not very aggressive. I guess it’s just going to take more time and patience than I was anticipating for this little side project.

Update 8/22/14,  10:00 a.m.: I went and foraged another 1 pound and 9 ounces of wild muscadine grapes this morning. After crushing them, there was a little less than a full quart jar.

Added additional crushed grapes and Campden tablet.

Added additional crushed grapes and Campden tablet.

I crushed an additional campden tablet and threw it in with the grapes. I opened the fermentation bucket, untied the bag and poured in the grapes and crushed campden. I re-tied the bag and gave a good stir. Refractometer reading gives a 1.109 updated OG, with a volume now of just over 3 gallons.

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Day 136 Peach-Pineapple Tepache

Peach-Pineapple Tepache, ready to ferment.

Peach-Pineapple Tepache, ready to ferment.

I bought some fresh peaches on sale about a week ago and they have been tied in a plastic produce bag and sitting in a basket in the kitchen since then. I went shopping today and got a good price on a pineapple, so guess what? Peach-Pineapple Tepache! Oh yeah, I pretty much gave that away in the title, didn’t I? Oh well, anyway…one of my peaches had already started to rot. so I pulled the pit out and composted the rest. The other five peaches, I peeled. The pits and peels all went into my tepache bucket and all the peach slices went into a bowl of water with a little splash of vinegar and went into the fridge, to eat later. Then I peeled and cored the pineapple and put the peels in the bucket and the fruit into a covered bowl in the fridge for later.

Peach peels and pineapple skins/core.

Peach peels and pineapple skins/core.

Recently, someone on a brewing site thread for tepache that I read, mentioned adding some other spices to his tepache, such as white pepper and coriander seed. I decided that peach might marry well with a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns and a pinch of ground allspice. I also threw in the usual stick of cinnamon and 3 whole cloves. I would have added some coriander, but I didn’t have  any. Also, I was short on the piloncillo raw sugar, so I used some brown sugar and some cinnamon flavored maple syrup.

Maple syrup, flavored with a cinnamon stick.

Maple syrup, flavored with a cinnamon stick.

Piloncillo(raw sugar), brown sugar and maple syrup added to fruit peels and spices.

Piloncillo(raw sugar), brown sugar and maple syrup added to fruit peels and spices.

 

Then it was 8 cups of water, a lid, an airlock and off to ferment! Original recipe said to ferment for 48 hours for this first step. I have learned that I like mine at about 72 hours or slightly longer.

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Day 75 American Wheat with Citrus & Citra…Final Racking

Racking from secondary to another bucket to settle for a couple of days before bottling.

Racking from secondary to another bucket to settle for a couple of days before bottling.

Today, I decided to rack the American “Breadbasket” Wheat with Citrus & Citra an additional racking. I wanted to get it off of the lees and let it settle for a day or two before I bottle it. Being a wheat beer, it’s not expected to be crystal clear; however, when I bottle it, I don’t want to have to worry about the sludge and the citrus peels and zest.

Drained

Drained

Dried (formerly) sweet orange peel and fresh lemon zest floating in secondary.

Dried (formerly) sweet orange peel and fresh lemon zest floating in secondary.

The aroma is floral and citrusy and has a little spice to it. The flavor is nice…good bitterness, lots of citrus and maybe a little clove? Whatever. It’s going to be really good when it has been bottle conditioned! I did a hydrometer check and the reading is 1.010 at 72F. Fermentation should be done. I haven’t seen any bubbles at all lately. I should be bottling this in two days.

Racked American Wheat with Citra and Citrus

Racked American Wheat with Citra and Citrus

Tomorrow is the monthly Big Brew at the Atlantic Brew Shop/Raleigh Brewery! This month, the special is a blonde ale. I’m thinking about making it a Strawberry Blond. I’ve done some research and I’ve read a lot of good experiences and a lot of bad. We will see. I need to go to a grocery store and see what is available.

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