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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 123 Finally Bottling Pineapple-Mango Melomel

Setting up to bottle the Pineapple-Mango Melomel. Nice color!

Setting up to bottle the Pineapple-Mango Melomel. Nice color!

I decided it was time to go ahead and bottle the Pineapple-Mango Melomel. It was started on April 3rd, so about 2-1/2 months to this point. I love the color of it, like a golden late harvest Riesling or an ice wine. The ABV is at 15.09%. The flavor is hot with alcohol, but the pineapple is very evident. Hopefully, it will mellow over time and the mango will come out too. I got ten 12 oz bottles to put away for a year and a half or so…maybe November, 2015?

I like the Boulevard Brewery bottle in the foreground.

I like the Boulevard Brewery bottle in the foreground.

I may hold some until Nov./Dec. 2016. I also had enough to fill probably about  9 oz in another bottle, so I added a little bottled water and capped it with my fingers crossed. I used oxygen absorbing crown caps and I marked that last one with a black X. I’ll open that one sometime next Spring just for fun…and hope it isn’t bad!

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Day 115 Pasteurizing Soda, First Taste Major Nelson’s IPA

Pasteurized Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda

Pasteurized Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda

I kept an eye on my soda bottles all day. There was a build-up of the more pulpy stuff in the necks of the bottles. Around noon, I carefully lifted each bottle and inverted to distribute the contents and put them back down. No explosions…good! I checked the little tester jar and it was getting carb over night, but not until afternoon did I feel it was getting carbed enough. Around 2 pm, I put the tester jar in the fridge and planned to pasteurize around 3 p.m.

I filled my pressure canner with hot water and put it on high heat, loosely covered. Using a digital thermometer, when the water got to 190F, I removed the pot from heat and carefully added the sodas. Covered loosely again, just in case a bottle were to pop. Set the timer for ten minutes. When the timer went off, I carefully removed the bottles to a kitchen towel on the kitchen counter to rest and cool. When cooled off, I’ll transfer the bottles to the refrigerator.

The little tester bottle was chilled at this point, so I gave it a swirl to mix the pulp and drank it. It wasn’t carbed like a Sprite or Ginger Ale, but it was nice and tingly. I definitely get the mango and ginger…really like the flavor. The texture is the part that would be hard to get some people into it, because of the pulp. But overall, it’s good!

I did go ahead and put an airlock on the Wheat RyePA today and moved it to a place to let it go for awhile. The tepache is not yet showing signs of life.

Update: Chilled the ginger-mint bug pineapple-mango sodas and pulled one out to try this evening. The carbonation is good…not too much, but good. The flavor is interesting and I like it. The only odd thing is the amount of pulp…so it’s kind of like a pulpy orange juice/soda hybrid.

Pulpy, but tasty pineapple-mango soda.

Pulpy, but tasty pineapple-mango soda.

Later that evening: Opened my first bottle of Major Nelson’s IPA and wow!!! Head poured creamy and slowly backed down, but never dissipated completely. The aroma was big with hops. The taste was citrus up front that quickly turned to bitter with a resin finish. I’m very happy with how this turned out! I think I finally got the carb right! Technically, this may be my best beer. It is a tad bitter for me, personally, but I think it is exactly where it is supposed to be for the style.  Another couple of weeks in the bottle won’t hurt it, but it is surprisingly good right now!

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Halfway through, the head is hanging on nicely.

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Nice head on the pour…soft, creamy.

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Day 114 Ginger Bug Pineapple-Mango Soda, Tepache #2

The ginger-mint “bug” appears to be ready…nice and bubbly. I picked up a pineapple today and already had a couple of mangoes. I got some extra ginger while I was at it. So, tonight I used my little countertop extractor to juice the fruits and about a half ounce or so of ginger and wound up with about 32 oz of juice. I added 2 cups/16 oz of water for a total of 48 oz. Then I added 1/4 cup of strained “bug” and stirred well.

Little countertop juice extractor.

Little countertop juice extractor…before I cleaned the ginger out of it.

Next, I sanitized utensils and 4 bottles and caps. I bottled the juice and capped it and had a little left over, so I put it in a small canning jar with a lid. I’ll use that as a tester. Directions say to refrigerate when carbonated to desired amount…1 to 3 days. I know there’s a LOT of sugar in there, so I think I will pasteurize the bottles when ready, just to be safe. That’s a fair amount of work for four bottles of soda! But I’m hoping it will be worth it! I might try a commercial juice for the next batch, though.

Ginger bug, 4 bottles of Pineapple-Mango Soda and a l;ittle tester jar to check carbonation. (Tepache in fermentation bucket in the background.)

Ginger-mint bug, 4 bottles of Pineapple-Mango Soda and a little tester jar to check carbonation. (Tepache in fermentation bucket in the background.)

Since I was doing a pineapple for the soda, I went ahead and peeled and cored it for a batch of tepache. I only had a few ounces of the piloncillo Mexican raw sugar, so I made up the bulk of the sugar with regular old brown sugar. So, at least I’m multi-tasking and getting another product started for all my efforts! My American Wheat/RyePA was chugging along this morning. Later in the afternoon it had slowed quite a bit. It pretty slow tonight. I’ll probably go ahead and replace the blow-off tube with a regular airlock  in the morning. And, as ever, the pineapple-mango melomel continues to condition in a carboy and looks beautiful. Can’t wait to drink it…in November 2016.

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Day 112 IPA Sample and Soda Bug Progress

Major Nelson's IPA test bottle.

Major Nelson’s IPA test bottle.

I chilled my partial “tester” bottle of IPA earlier today. This evening, I opened it and poured it slowly through a cheesecloth lined sieve into a glass. I think that process pulled most of the carb into the head, because there was a big head and little carb. The reason for the filtered pour is because it looked like there were some floaters in the beer. Anyway, the aroma and flavor were both good. I’m looking forward to the final product!

The ginger starter for making soda seems to be coming along okay. I did add more water with the second ginger and sugar addition. I made a third ginger and sugar addition today.

Giving the "bug" a swirly every now and then.

Giving the “bug” a swirly every now and then.

Getting s few bubbles in the "Ginger-Mint Bug" for making soda.

Getting s few bubbles in the “Ginger-Mint Bug” for making soda.

The pineapple-mango melomel continues to carboy condition. All seems steady…nice and clear…pretty color. Maybe another month to bottling.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (Fruit mead). Look at that color!

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (Fruit mead). Look at that color!

I’m hoping to brew this weekend…maybe tomorrow. I’d like to do a Scotch Ale, but the fermentation temperature requirements may be too low for me to control. I’ll consult the home brew shop…maybe a rye of some kind?

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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 102 Tepache at 48 Hours, Updates on Others

(Pineapple) Tepache at 48 hours.

(Pineapple) Tepache at 48 hours.

 

Okay, at 48 hours, I am just barely starting to see minimal signs of fermentation beginning in my tepache. The liquid is very sweet and dark from the piloncillo, raw Mexican sugar.

If I want this to be alcoholic at all, I need to let it go longer. I have been doing some reading and have heard others talk of allowing their tepache to ferment from a week to over a month. Some say that it will tern to a spiced pineapple vinegar if you leave it in the refrigerator for a long time. The home brewer that let his ferment for over a month, like a beer wort in primary fermentation, said his fermented out dry and tart. So, it sounds like the trick is to check it regularly until it is the flavor you prefer. For me, I’m guessing about a week.

I’ve also heard people debate adding beer to the mix. Several said they did not prefer it…some said it was too bitter. I still think I want to try it with my strawberry blonde. It isn’t too hoppy or bitter, but I think it might cut the sweetness a bit. I’m estimating Sunday or Monday will be in the range to take the next step. That will be to strain, add some water and a beer and then let it go until around Wednesday? Then, it’s into a pitcher in the fridge.

Moving on to my longer term projects. The pineapple-mango melomel is nice and clear and conditioning in a one gallon glass carboy with very little head space. I’m going to let that continue…I don’t know…another 6 or 7 weeks? My plan is to then bottle it and age until the Fall of 2016. That’s a looooong term little project.  The other in-process project is another Murray’s Super Easy Cider, 1/2 gallon. It seems to be going slowly, but it keeps going. I can still see little bubbles at the top of the cider and rising from the bottom. The liquid is pretty clear, so as soon as it stops with the bubbles, I’ll get it bottled.

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (left) and Super Easy Murray's Cider (right)

Pineapple-Mango Melomel (left) and Super Easy Murray’s Cider (right)

I’m hoping to participate in the “Big Brew” this weekend, which will coincide with a national event. I plan on doing an all grain BIAB IPA (India Pale Ale). I’m looking forward to that!

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