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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.

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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 139 Making Ginger Beer, Bottling Tepache, Checking Cherry Belle Citra Saison

Bottled Peach-Pineapple Tepache and a soda bottle to judge carbonation.

Bottled Peach-Pineapple Tepache and a soda bottle to judge carbonation.

Tonight, I knocked out a couple little projects and checked up on one. My micro batch of Cherry Belle Citra Saison has a pretty color from the cherries and I think they’ve given up all they really have to offer. I’m going to rack this brew to tertiary tomorrow to settle for a few days before bottling.

A peek at micro batch Cherry Belle Citra Saison.

A peek at micro batch Cherry Belle Citra Saison.

I went ahead and strained my peach-pineapple tepache…it had a bubbly pellicle covering the surface. I siphoned out from under the surface and through a few layers of cheesecloth. I’m not sure it was necessary, but I feel good about it. The flavor is really nice. It’s sweet and tangy and the spice is coming through nicely.

Peach-Pineapple Tepache sample...sweet. tangy, spiced...good stuff!

Peach-Pineapple Tepache sample…sweet. tangy, spiced…good stuff!

The SG is 1.041 and I feel like it’s time for bottling. So I got that done and filled a soda bottle for carb testing. If it goes like I’m anticipating, I should be pasteurizing Monday morning (about 36 hours).

My other project for tonight was peeling a pound of fresh ginger,

A pound of fresh ginger, skin scraped off.

A pound of fresh ginger, skin scraped off.

 

shredding it in the food processor,

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Shredded fresh ginger.

and starting a non-alcoholic ginger beer for my brother in-law who is from Trinidad. I’m using a recipe from a cookbook he brought from Trinidad and it looks very similar to tepache, except it uses freshly grated ginger instead of pineapple skins. Here is the recipe:

Ginger Beer

1 lb fresh ginger, skin scraped off with a spoon, grated

8 cups water

Juice and zest from 1 lime

4 cups granulated sugar

1 stick cinnamon

4 to 6 cloves, whole

Directions: (I have adapted for my bottling procedure) Combine all ingredients in a 2 gallon fermentation bucket and stir to start sugar dissolving.

Ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Ingredients in the fermentation bucket.

Seal lid and install an airlock. Place in direct sunlight for 1 day. (We are having rain, so I’m putting the bucket on a heating pad overnight and most of tomorrow.) Next day, strain. I assume that this would become alcoholic, if I allowed it to ferment longer, but that’s not the plan for this batch. Sweeten to taste, if necessary. Bottle. (I’m going to top off to a gallon with fresh bottled water to extend the batch a little.) Fill a soda bottle to use for judging carbonation progress. It should take a day or two. Pasteurize and store in a cool, dark place and refrigerate before opening. (Open over a sink or outside just to be safe!)

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Day 111 Ginger-Mint “Bug” for Soda Making

 

I was giving credit to the website where I found this recipe, but they seem to be spamming now, so no more!

Anyway, I thought this sounded interesting and I have ginger and sugar on hand, so…what the heck. It begins with what they are calling a “bug”…a starter that you use each time and reserve a 1/4 cup and keep feeding it. Like a sourdough. Then they have a recipe for a pineapple-ginger soda…sounds tasty! I also can see making a mango-ginger or pineapple-mango-ginger.

Sugar and grated ginger in jar with water...plus some chocolate mint.

Sugar and grated ginger in jar with water…plus some chocolate mint.

My little twist is adding some cleaned “chocolate” varietal fresh mint. I pinched back the plant and tossed the leaves/stems into the “bug” mixture. I’m thinking basil would be a good alternative to try in the future, too!

For the bug, I added a cup of lukewarm water to a mason jar. I added 3 tsp. grated fresh ginger, with the peel on. Then added 2 tsp. sugar and a heaping tablespoon of fresh mint. I secured the lid and shook vigorously for several seconds. Then I loosened the lid, so that it isn’t air tight. Every day, I’ll add more ginger and sugar and shake. After about 4 or 5 days, the bug should be fizzy.

Added mint, shake, shake shake! Loosen lid.

Added mint, shake, shake shake! Loosen lid.

The next step will be to draw off 1/4 cup of liquid and combine it with 48 oz of fruit juice. (The rest of the “bug” gets topped off and put back in the fridge.) I plan on extracting fresh pineapple and mango juices to make my soda. I’m also toying with the idea of coconut water. The recipe calls for the mixture to be divided into jars and tightly lidded for 1 to 3 days, until fizzy and then refrigerate. I think I’m going to try bottling it instead and, after carbed, pasteurizing it. Oh, and when I process the pineapple for the juice, I’ll save the skins and core to make another batch of tepache!

Speaking of tepache, I decided to open one of the three bottles I have left…I gave away a couple and drank a couple earlier. So, I poured the tepache to half fill a large pilsner style glass and tasted it. The carb is light, but pleasant and the flavor is very sweet, but nicely mellow with a little tang.

Part one: Tepache

Part one: Tepache

I then opened a strawberry blonde ale and topped it off. It’s not a sweet strawberry blonde, so it pairs well in making my awesome creation: Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

Part two: add a light ale of your choice and you have a Mateo's Tepache Shandy!

Part two: add a light ale of your choice and you have a Mateo’s Tepache Shandy!

 

This is really refreshing and I can TOTALLY see drinking this poolside or on the beach…or at a beach bar. I’m also thinking it would be great as a base for a shrimp or crab boil! I probably won’t get to try it anytime soon, because of severe allergies in the family, but I can imagine it!

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Day 26 Two Gallon Stout After Thanksgiving, Pitching Cider #4

Went to Atlantic Brew Supply today. They are off of Hillsborough St. and closer to me than American Brewmaster. While I will take advantage of American Brewmaster when they open in Cary, Atlantic Brew Supply seems to be a much bigger operation. They also have their own brewery, an onsite brew thing for home brewers one Saturday a month and will loan a burner set-up and sell the “recipe of the month” ingredients for 1/2 price. The guy that helped me was laid back, but knowledgeable  and very friendly and helpful. The grains are bulk and priced by the pound…those and a grinder are self service (or they will help). I was pretty impressed.

I bought a small bottle of a no-rinse sanitizer to try, some Safale s-04 yeast and the ingredients and recipe for a Dry Stout. I’ll make the stout after Thanksgiving. Tonight, I’m going to add some honey to cider batch #4…maybe 1/2 cup…since I was a little short on sugar. I’m also going to add some water, maybe a gallon, since I had extra juice. I’m going to separate the cider into two primary fermentation tanks, each with about 1-1/2 gallons of cider, so I can eventually rack at least 2 full gallons. Once they are separated and the honey is added to both with the extra water (heated to dissolve), then I’ll pitch the s-04 yeast. More on that later.

8:00 pm     Followed my plan and opened the PFB on cider batch #4, removed the pommace bag and squeezed the juice out of it. I had sanitized a second PFB, an airlock, some measuring cups and a spoon. I put 4 cups of hot water in a measuring cup and added    4 oz of honey and stirred to dissolve it. I added the honey water mixture to the cider.  I then divided the cider equally between the two buckets. To each, I added another four cups of water. I checked the OG and it was 1.034 @ 70F. Adjusted is 1.035. That seems a little weak. Maybe I raised the volume of liquid too much. I think I’ll add some brown sugar. I did go ahead and pitch the           Safale s-04 yeast, 3 grams in each bucket.

Okay, I added 8 oz of brown sugar to each PFB and stirred well. Checked the OG again and Bucket #1 is 1.052 Bucket #2 is 1.048 at 70F. Adjusted for temp and hydrometer calibration to 1.053 and 1.049.  The flavor is now sweet, but the apple may be a little weak. We’ll have to see how it ferments. I haven’t liked the idea of adding apple juice concentrate (thawed from frozen), but it may be necessary to get some apple flavor back.

Tomorrow might be a good day to go ahead and bottle Cider Batch #2 and try out one of the bottling buckets. Prime with priming sugar…no tablets!!! I’ve done 1/2 teaspoon per bottle or 1 oz per gallon (so about 1-1/2 oz for this batch). Using the bottling bucket, I think I’ll use the option of adding the priming sugar to the bucket. Name…name…name…”TARDIS Cider. Bigger on the Inside.”  I like it.

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Day 25 Pasteurizing Batch #3, Starting #4

Well, all the stuff I read said to let the cider go from 3 to 10 days after priming, checking carbonation until it’s “right”,  then pasteurize. It’s only been 2 days, and my test bottles gushed a bit when I opened them. May be a bit over-carbonated already. The taste is a little sharp. Hopefully, some time in the bottles will mellow them some. So, I’m into the pasteurizing process…going to 190 degrees, then removing from heat, cover and sit 10 minutes.

Using the pressure canner to pasteurize.

Using the pressure canner to pasteurize.

Right as I was reaching 190 degrees…BOOM! One of the bottles busted. I thought that gradually bringing the bottles up in temperature would be better for the glass, but maybe that builds too much pressure. Maybe I should have added the bottles when 190F was attained and pulled off the heat. It might have blown anyway. Could have been a defect in the glass, I don’t know. Anyway, ten minutes is up…have to go remove the bottles…CAREFULLY!!!

Bottle go BOOM!!! Cap stayed on, though.

Bottle go BOOM!!! Cap stayed on, though.

So far, so good. The bottles are on a kitchen towel, on the counter. Only that one bottle blew. Luckily, I was using my pressure canner that has a raised false bottom disk and I had the lid partially covering the pot. The bottle busted, but the cap stayed on! I ran my test 12 oz bottle through pasteurizing process and I put the soda bottle with the screw cap in the refrigerator. I think I’ll let these bottle condition for quite awhile…maybe until my birthday, March first. I’ll try the test bottle before then…maybe New Year’s Eve!

After they cooled to almost room temperature, I put the labels on the bottles. They look good, I think!

Watson's label.

Watson’s label.

Watson's Cyser. I know, no honey probably just makes it a sparkling cider. I'll fix the terminology before next labels are printed.

Watson’s Cyser. I know, no honey probably just makes it a sparkling cider. I’ll fix the terminology before next labels are printed.

Just have to remember to open them over a sink, in case they gush. (In the future, I’ll have to remember to go by taste and not by what is expected. The temperature has fluctuated in the house quite a bit over the last couple of days and at one point it got up to 75F…probably sped up the process. Had some of the test screw-cap soda bottle Watson’s this evening. Since it has been opened and had a slow gush, the carbonation level is way down. It isn’t entirely flat, though and I like the flavor and sweetness level.

10:30 pm     I picked some crabapples this afternoon…pretty sure this is the end of the crop. Have to pick through them carefully…some are rotting on the tree. Anyway, I picked about 5-1/2 lbs. Tonight, I cut off the stems and blossom ends and juiced them. I had 4 large Fuji apples on hand, so I juiced them as well. They probably weighed over 3 lbs. I thought I only had three and I had weighed them at over 2 lbs, before I spotted the fourth one. So, I got over 5 cups of juice (I usually have 4 cups.) I went ahead and put it all in primary with 6 quarts water, pectin enzyme, yeast nutrient, a capmden tablet (crushed), the apple pommace in a cheesecloth bag and   1 lb 9 oz  of white sugar. I would have done 1 lb 12 oz, but that’s all I had. I thought about adding some honey or brown sugar, but the OG is 1.050 @ 70F, so I think I’m ok. I can double check it tomorrow night and add some more sugar if I want to at that point.

Now, because I have a little over 2 gallons in one PFB, there is no way this isn’t going to foul the airlock. unless I divide it into 2 PFB’s before (or immediately after) I pitch the yeast. I’m afraid, by the way, that I may not have quite enough yeast. I only have about 2 grams of Safale s-04 yeast left. I think I’m going to run to the brew store tomorrow to get some supplies. In addition to yeast, I could use a no-rinse sanitizer to use in the bottle rack bottle sanitizer, maybe more beer brite, pectin enzyme and yeast nutrient. Maybe I’ll put together a kit for another batch of beer to save a trip after Thanksgiving. I know I won’t have time to brew it until then. ***YAAAAAAWN*** It’s getting late. I think I’ll go lie down and peruse some recipes. I was looking at stout recipes recently…hmmm. But my first taste of Guinness Stout from a bottle, many years ago, sucked. I like it draft, but not bottled. Maybe I’ll go another route. Who knows? Tomorrow is another day!

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